In 1998, Suzanne Dunaway was behind the takeout counter at her wholesale bakery, Buona Forchetta in Los Angeles, when a literary agent walked in to select up some bread. The agent was an everyday buyer, and he or she had an concept. “Do you need to write a e book on this?” Dunaway remembers Betsy Amster asking her on the time. “Nobody’s ever carried out it earlier than.”
The “it” that Amster was referring to was making artisan bread with out kneading it. Typical knowledge dictated that to make most sorts of bread, regardless of the flavour, type, or selection, some type of kneading was required, as a result of kneading developed gluten and gluten gave construction to bread. However at Buona Forchetta, Dunaway’s breads — focaccia, pan rusticos, baguettes — have been all made with out kneading. The breads have been combined with quite a lot of water, folded a few instances, left to rise, then baked. “Everyone I knew was making sourdough loaves in a single day, or ready every week for the starter to bubble,” she says. “I simply mentioned to myself — that is very easy, a child might do it.” Dunaway took Amster’s provide, accumulating the recipes for the no-knead breads that she’d been honing on the bakery right into a e book. It was printed the next 12 months, in 1999, with the title No Have to Knead: Handmade Italian Breads in 90 Minutes.
Any individual with even a imprecise curiosity in baking would probably acknowledge the time period “no-knead bread.” In 2006, Mark Bittman wrote an article for the New York Occasions on the topic, crediting Jim Lahey of Sullivan Road Bakery for his “revolutionary method” to bread-baking. Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe required mixing flour, quite a lot of water, salt, and yeast; letting the dough rise in a single day; shaping, proofing, after which baking the bread the subsequent day in a Dutch oven. Bittman mentioned that the two-step method — letting time develop the dough and steam from a lined Dutch oven create the crust — will “blow your thoughts.” It’s one of many Occasions’s hottest recipes ever printed, with upward of 15,000 scores, resulting in the publication of Lahey’s 2009 e book My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Methodology.

Final month, probably fueled by greater than a 12 months of individuals entering into making bread at dwelling, Occasions cooking author J. Kenji López-Alt revisited the 2006 recipe, tweaking a few of Lahey’s strategies, emphasizing how “massively influential” the no-knead technique was. Within the story, Peter Reinhart, creator of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, instructed López-Alt that Lahey’s “genius was in incorporating and modernizing a number of totally different outdated strategies recognized to bakers” however crucial improvement was the identify. Lahey concurred: “Mark gave it the no-knead identify,” Lahey instructed the Occasions. “I assumed it was a mistake — it’s simply historic bread made earlier than fears and electrical energy — however he’s the author so we went with it.”
“Quickly, dwelling bakers and professionals started iterating on the method,” López-Alt wrote. A piece of López-Alt’s story was titled, “No Have to Knead.”
Dunaway had printed the primary English-language e book with reference to no-knead and was livid: She believed that the Occasions had rewritten historical past, not as soon as, however twice. When she noticed López-Alt’s article, “How the No-Knead Bread Recipe Modified Baking,” Dunaway sat down and instantly wrote a letter to the Occasions cooking editor, Sam Sifton. “‘You realize, possibly your researchers made a mistake someplace,’” Dunaway wrote. “Right here’s my e book. Right here’s the image of it.”
Under no circumstances was Dunaway’s e book obscure: No Have to Knead had been nominated for a James Beard Award in 2000, was featured in Bon Appétit and the Los Angeles Occasions, and Buona Forchetta, which closed in 2003, was ceaselessly hailed as one of many prime bakeries in Los Angeles. In 2017, Dunaway had been featured in Modernist Bread, a five-book, 2,500-page tome, crediting her as an early progenitor of the no-knead method. “Everyone knew about this. My publicity was all over the place,” Dunaway says of the time interval a number of years earlier than Lahey’s recipe got here out. By the point Lahey’s recipe was printed, Dunaway had moved to Rome. “I wasn’t on the market faucet dancing,” Dunaway says. Lahey’s recipe went viral and he was heralded as a revolutionary.
Who will get to be a revolutionary? All through the historical past of bread-baking, feminine bakers toiled in home settings, making bread for his or her households (or white ladies’s households), a reality that folks like Michael Pollan have usually inspired dwelling cooks to romanticize. “Don’t eat something your great-great-great grandmother wouldn’t acknowledge as meals,” Pollan says, forgetting the customarily hidden unpaid labor that ladies and other people of coloration needed to carry out for generations to get that type of meals on the desk. The lionizing of home recipes tends to occur when they’re translated right into a mainstream skilled sphere, ceaselessly by male cooks.
However is it really attainable to invent a brand new method or recipe with the oldest meals on the planet? Possession of strategies and recipes is a fraught idea in each home {and professional} settings — meals narratives by means of historical past have been stolen and coopted as a perform of white supremacy — and there’s an extended recorded historical past of bread-making that exhibits no-knead strategies are removed from new. Lahey’s loaf has been lauded for its revolutionary simplicity in bringing bread-baking to the plenty, however it’s solely one in every of many. One of many earliest no-knead recipes was printed 80 years in the past in a cookbook by British meals author Doris Grant, who grew to become recognized for her wartime “Grant Loaf.”
Within the 1943 e book Your Each day Bread, Grant wrote a complete chapter on breads that have been quick and simple to make, as a method to encourage housewives, who have been her main viewers, to supply healthful meals to their households. Grant loathed industrial meals and the way in which very important vitamins have been stripped from staples in service of commodification, so her resolution was to develop quick, straightforward recipes to counter the hurt of business. “OF COURSE it’s faster to open a tin than to organize an equal home-made dish, particularly for the housewife who’s out at enterprise all day,” Grant wrote in her e book Pricey Housewives in 1964. So the Grant Loaf, made with stone-ground whole-wheat flour, salt, yeast, and somewhat sugar, required no kneading. The headnotes on the recipe reads, “Keep in mind that whole-wheat dough should not be kneaded and solely requires a couple of minutes to combine.” Whereas Grant is credited as an early originator of no-knead bread in Modernist Bread, Grant is given no airtime in Bittman, López-Alt, Lahey, or Dunaway’s writing of the no-knead bread historical past.
These recipes could also be simply totally different sufficient that no-knead bread is much less a way than a broader idea, however solely one in every of them, ultimately, grew to become the default. Lahey instructed Eater over electronic mail that each one of that is “nothing new.”
“My recipe may be very easy, makes use of minimal yeast, and has an extended gradual ferment,” he wrote. “I consider that, in essence, my bread making method is much like a way practiced for hundreds (THOUSANDS) of years, with the exception being using business yeast.” (Bittman didn’t reply to a request for remark.) To Lahey, nonetheless, “most 90-minute bread recipes make mediocre bread.” Grant and Dunaway’s loaves — for the sake of ease and accessibility — will be produced in that period of time.
Perhaps it’s the case that there’s nothing new underneath the solar, that each one concepts are simply mirrors of others earlier than them. Lahey’s “revolutionary” Dutch oven method is a repeat of a baking technique used since Roman instances; the moist dough method was recognized amongst skilled and residential bakers for many years. “Plainly [Dunaway] was upset when Bittman and my article got here out (and it will seem nonetheless is),” Lahey mentioned, including that he hadn’t heard of Dunaway or her e book earlier than that. “My technique led a revolution in dwelling baking,” Lahey continued, “and books on baking incorporating my technique.” Lahey’s viral recipe catapulted him into notoriety after it was printed, regardless of proof that his technique was — as he put it — “nothing new.” Years later, Lahey’s no-knead recipe is the no-knead recipe.
Everybody else who got here earlier than him? They only laid the groundwork.

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