Laura Vitale’s No-knead rustic bread: bread flour vs whole-wheat

Hey there! It’s been a minute…

I’m back this week with a new experiment on something I’ve been wanting to try for a long time: rustic bread. Disclaimer: I’ve had a couple of failed experiments in the past with no-knead breads. I’ve tried a rustic bread that promised to be ready in 3 hours (it was, just not worth doing), and a beer bread – which was likely just because of wrong expectations (as I am now looking at beer bread recipes, mine did actually come out correctly it seems).

Nonetheless, today’s experiment involves Laura Vitale’s no-knead rustic bread. I struggled with what should be the variable of this experiment because this recipe is just so simple. In fact, I wasn’t planning on doing two loaves today but the first loaf ended up being 10 minutes of effort, if that, so I decided to change the type of flour again and see if it is possible to make this loaf fully whole-wheat instead.

The set-up

Ingredients of the original recipe (reorganized to order of use):

  • 1½ cup (360 ml) warm water (approx 115ºF)
  • 1​¼ tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp white granulated sugar (I accidentally put 2tsp…)
  • 3 cups bread flour – variable of this experiment
  • 2 tsp salt

Note: I accidentally put 2 tsp of sugar in my recipe, so I kept it consistent in the whole-wheat and did 2 tsp of sugar as well.

Total time start to finish: 19 hours (10 min active time)

Temperature: 11ºC / 51ºF

Humidity: 87%


Super quick set-up for this bread…flour, yeast, water, sugar, salt. That’s it!


Loved making this recipe – you let the yeast activate and use that time to measure the flour and salt.


Here is one thing I had trouble with in this recipe: using volume for flour measurement is tricky. As flour sits on your shelf or the bag is dropped on the counter, flour can become more packed, so 3 packed cups are very different from 3 sifted cups…I think in bread recipes, flour should be provided in grams instead for this reason.



Mix wet and dry ingredients, first with a spatula or wooden spoon until it becomes hard to keep going…


The mix by hand for 1-2 minutes until flour is incorporated.


Here is a view of the whole-wheat load around the same stage as the picture above. Whole wheat is lumpier and also a wetter dough.


White dough done!


Whole wheat done! Now we wait 18 hours…


Fully proofed: 18 hours later you have a huge difference in the two dough’s – here’s a look at the white one, super stringy and sticky…


…and here is the whole-wheat, it’s somewhat stringy but really compact and not at all elastic.


Final outcome – white loaf: super nice texture, big air bubbles, great flavor, soft inside with a crusty exterior.


Final outcome – whole-wheat: by contrast, this loaf is really compact, not risen, no air bubbles. It wasn’t pleasant to eat so we didn’t…


Side by side (or top and bottom?): white bread and whole wheat, you can really see how different the two flours behave in this recipe.


  • bread flour will go a long way in this recipe, beautiful air pockets, crunchy crust, soft inside, great flavor
  • avoid whole-wheat for this one: flavor is acceptable, however the texture is all wrong, it’s a tight loaf that makes it unpleasant to eat
  • I discovered I prefer to have flour listed in gram format better than volume, I guess I’ll have to find out later on how much you can play with the amount before results are off (packed flour vs sifted flour in the next experiment perhaps?)
  • one thing you can’t see in the pictures above is that about 3h into proofing, the doughs were reaching the top of the bowls and then came down a little until the 18 hours were done, that’s likely where the whole wheat lost its elasticity.

Here’s a couple of ways we’ve enjoyed the white bread, which is already halfway gone…


Tomatoes, salt, olive oil


Olive oil, salt, pepper

Super happy I gave this recipe a try, I definitely recommend this recipe but use bread flour, not whole wheat!! It takes a long time, but it’s pretty much entirely hands-off. type of bread, so if you’re not travelling for the weekend, just go for it.

Let me know if you’ve tried this recipe – maybe more successfully incorporating whole wheat than I have 😉

See you next time!




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