Rosemary No-Knead Bread from the Windowsill Herb Garden …

Light snow is falling outside and the temperature here in Vermont is hovering around 30 degrees fahrenheit. A winter storm is expected tonight and it is predicted to continue throughout tomorrow. Meteorologists are promising us six to twelve inches of fluffy, new snow here in the Green Mountains. It sounds like I will be doing some shoveling and snow-shoeing with Oli on Monday. This season is filled with many pleasures, but some parts of winter are easier to deal with than others. I am already starting to miss the convenience of  ‘shopping’ for tomatoes and cucumbers in the backyard potager. True, there are stores of potatoes, onions, squash and other produce in the root cellar – but it will be awhile before I can sample the full flavors of spring and summer in my kitchen.

Of course a little bit of summer does manage to migrate into my house for the winter. Edible plants such as mint, oregano, thyme, sage and rosemary line the countertop on either side of my kitchen window. Although these herbs prefer to live in the garden, I usually bring a few, (OK, as many as I can cram beside the sink), indoors to enjoy during the long months of winter. Rosemary is one of my favorites seasonings, and while it can be a fussy winter guest, I like to keep a small plant inside until late spring. I have had good luck growing rosemary indoors when I position the pot in a cool, (but not drafty), bright spot. Never let this plant dry-out. It is important to check the potting soil regularly. But take care not to kill with kindness – this Mediterranean plant dislikes overwatering. Rosemary’s soil should be kept on the slightly dry-side of moist, with a free-draining potting mix.

Although I love houseplants, and I always enjoy the scent of herbs when I brush against them beside the sink, the primary motivation for my indoor herb garden is, of course, cooking and baking. Yesterday afternoon, I mixed the dough for no-knead bread – my second experience with this recipe. And this morning, I baked two loaves in my new Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Round French Oven. This pretty blue pot was a holiday gift – one I have been coveting for years. Beware: this is not an instant gratification recipe. In fact, the entire process takes about 21 hours. But the steps are quite simple, and I must say the results are very rewarding. The bread that came out of my oven today was every bit as good as any I can find within 20 miles of my home. It’s definitely worth the wait. In addition, the fresh herbs, (in this case rosemary), make for a very special dinner loaf and an especially fragrant home during baking.

Over the coming winter months, I will be writing more about edible indoor-gardening and cooking with fresh herbs. After experimenting with this recipe a few times, I thought it might be a good place to start. I’m eager to read about your results…

Rosmarinus officinalis, (rosemary), on my kitchen countertop

Rosemary No-Knead Bread

(Adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe for the New York Times and the original Jim Lahey recipe via Martha Stewart Living)


(Makes one 1 1/2 pound loaf of bread)

3           cups bread flour, (I use King Arthur), plus extra for dusting

1/4        teaspoon instant yeast *

1 1/2     teaspoon salt, (I use ground sea salt)

1 1/2     cups water, (room temp)

1 1/2     tablespoons fresh, coarsely chopped rosemary, (or other herbs)

Olive oil for coating bowl

Cornmeal, (optional, I used flour for this recipe), for dusting

* If you can not find instant yeast, you may substitute 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast: Warm the 1 1/2 cups of water and add 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast. Let stand 10 minutes, or until foamy. Follow the remaining directions as listed below.


First Afternoon: Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large working bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, (room temperature), and blend to a shaggy looking mix. I added the fresh rosemary at this point, but if you forget, you can also add it, (or other herbs), on day two durning the folding process. Use olive oil to lightly coat a second large working bowl. Transfer the dough to the second bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm room, (70 degrees fahrenheit is ideal), for 18 hours. Bubbles at the surface of the dough signal that it is ready to rework.

Next morning: Dust the work surface with flour and place the dough in the center. Lightly flour the top of the dough. Gently fold over a couple of times. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. Once again, dust the work surface and your hands with a bit of flour and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Sprinkle a plain, smooth cotton towel with flour, (or cornmeal), and place the dough on center. Cover with a second cotton towel. Allow the dough to rise until double in size, (about 2 hours).

After an hour and a half of final rising: begin preheating the oven to 500 degrees fahrenheit. While preheating, place a  2 3/4 – 8 quart heavy, lidded pot, (such as pyrex or enameled cast-iron), in the center of the oven. I use an enameled, cast-iron Le Creuset round, Dutch-style oven with lid, (I prefer this to glass for even baking of bread). Heat pot for 1/2 hour. Very carefully remove the hot container from oven with heavy mitts. Slide dough into the pot and shake to evenly distribute. Cover the pot and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Oven temperatures will vary, so watch very carefully the first time you make this bread.

Remove bread from the oven, roll out of the pot and cool on a wire rack. The loaf will stay freshest in a bread-box or bread-bag, loosely wrapped in plastic and/or a paper bag. Wrapping a loaf of bread tightly in plastic will make the surface soft instead of crusty. It’s best to eat fresh bread the day it is baked. Enjoy !

Start with good bread flour, fresh instant yeast and ground sea-salt for good results…

Next, add fresh, coarsely chopped rosemary to the dough…

Mixing the shaggy, sticky dough on day one…

Bubbles on the wet, sticky surface the next morning…

The shaped dough, resting in an olive oil coated bowl …

The no-knead dough, settled into a heated, Le Creuset French oven…

And the finished loaf, rolled out to cool on a wire rack



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13 Replies to “Rosemary No-Knead Bread from the Windowsill Herb Garden …”

  1. Patti

    I am thrilled! this bread looks delicous Plus It does not have egg or milk … YEAH! ( I have food allergies ).. I can’t wait to make it:<)!

  2. Jim

    Try it next time with a less flour. The NY Times article intentially has you leaving the dough sticky for a reason. Looking at your picture leads me to believe that it is more like pizza dough when you put it in the pot. The fermentation has more success this way, given the no-kneading that the recipe calls for. I have made it with all different combinations of flour and everyone who has had some agrees that the one the results from the “tacky” dough is the best. Also, are you weighing the flour, pouring it in the measuring cup, or dipping the measuring cup in the flour? Each has very different results. If the recipe calls for a cup (with no weight), it is most common to assume 5 – 5 1/2 oz. per cup. This way, at least, you can consistantly reproduce your results, or alter with scientific measurments, the next time.

  3. Michaela

    Hi Jim,
    I have tried this recipe the way I originally found it, (with slightly more water), and I had the same end-results both ways. The Bittman recipe I have calls for 3 cups of flour. I tried it with more water the first time, as Bittman’s recipe called for ever-so-slightly more, (1 5/8 cups). I found another version of the recipe, (on Martha Stewart’s website), using slightly less water. It was actually still pretty sticky, (stayed on my flour-less thumbs), and it wiggled around in the pan quite a bit. The end result was quite airy, and springy. Maybe there is a bit of difference with amount of flour on the working surface. Also, the first time I followed Bittman and used all-purpose flour. The second time I used bread flour. My very unscientific home-tester thought today’s bread was lighter and more springy. But, to each his own. I am all for experimentation ! Nice to hear from you, and thanks for the tips. It sounds like you are far more experienced, and I appreciate the input!

  4. elin

    Looks DELICIOUS! Your post is an inspiration to bake on a snowy day – and your blog an inspiration to capture the art in our daily lives -even a most basic condo kitchen can be transformed by a little baking. Stay warm and snug during the snowstorm. :-)

  5. Michaela

    Hi Elin,
    I think this bread IS as delicious as it looks. Actually, it’s better than it looks. It’s so crisp on the outside and airy and springy on the inside – plus the slow fermentation gives it real flavor ! That Jim Lahey is a genius. I can’t believe it came out of my oven. The best part is how easy it is … all it just takes time. Thank you for your encouraging words about TGE. You made me smile. Not much snow here in the south, but plenty of w i n d d d d d ! Hope you are snug up north !
    xo Michaela

  6. Michaela

    Below is an excellent tutorial-link from Rosy Levy Beranbaum, (goddess of bread). Rose also recommends the water/flour ratio I posted here, (3 c flour to 1 1/2 water). She uses even more salt than I did, but the rosemary adds flavor, so I would stick with 1 1/2 tsp of sea salt. If you can not find instant yeast, 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast will work, (warm the 1 1/2 cups of water first, add 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast and allow it to foam for 10 minutes. Then add it to the dough and proceed with the recipe as described). The dough will be wet and shaggy. This is normal.
    Here’s Rose Levy Beranbaum’s link:

    Let me know how it goes !

  7. Patricia

    Hi Michaela, this rosemary bread sounded so good to me, but I wondered what you meant the size of iron cast french oven, as 2 3/4 – 8 qt? I have this 5.5 qt enameled cast iron Dutch oven with the lid, will this dough fit in? I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thanks, Patricia

  8. Michaela

    Hi Patricia, The size of Dutch oven will determine the shape of the bread. A smaller (2 3/4 qt) oven yields a lofty little loaf. A larger oven —such as yours 5 1/2 qt size— will yield a wider loaf with less height. I’ve experimented with different sized ovens —including oval shape— and all will work. Keep a close eye on the loaf toward the end of the bake-time, as different sized ovens may affect this factor. Have fun and good luck! ;) M

  9. Patricia

    Good morning Michaela, Oh really? Ahh now I wanted all kinds of cast iron sized ovens :) I haven’t started kneading the dough yet as I was busy stocking up tapped water bottles, made a huge pot of hamburg soup and my son brought me home two french loaves in case we get no power from the expected gust winds last night, sure the wind came like 55 mph and the wood debris were all over the yards this morning, but we still have the power! YaY \o/ :)
    Thanks, Patricia

  10. Ellen

    This is the third loaf of no-knead type bread I’ve made in my Calphalon cast iron and I just love it. My hubbie and I haven’t had the bread machine out in quite awhile :)

    Thanks for posting a recipe for the rosemary olive oil bread that I used to pay 4.75 for at my local store :)

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