Recipe: No-Knead Pain au Levain, 4% Rye, 7% Potato Flakes

This is the no-knead basic “The Loaf 2.0”, with the addition of 7% instant mashed potato flakes.

No-Knead Pain au Levain, 4% Rye, 7% Potato Flakes

Dough Yield: 900g

PDF version

Yield one 900g loaf


  • Use all-purpose flour with a protein content of about 12%, such as King Arthur brand. If unavailable, use bread flour.

  • Any type of rye flour will work here, as will gluten-forming whole grain flours like wheat, barley, or spelt.

  • Since the initial proof takes about 12 hours, the best approach is to start the dough in the evening, shape the bread in the morning, and bake the loaf late in the day or the following morning. Or start very early in the morning and shape in the evening. 

  • In step 1, use levain that has been recently refreshed as described [here]; the recipe should work with older levain, but it might take longer to proof in step 5.

  • Because the recipe uses such a small amount of levain, its hydration doesn’t really matter.

  • If your kitchen is cold (below 70˚F), you should increase the amount of levain in step 1 to 10% (50g); in the heat of summer, reduce it to as little as 1% (5g).

  • Step 5 is the most important one—you want to be sure the dough has doubled in volume and is domed and bubbly before moving on to shaping, otherwise it won’t have enough activity to complete the fermentation in the fridge. You also don’t want to let it proof too much longer after that stage, or it can turn slack (especially when ambient temperatures are above 77˚F). But as a rule it is always better to err on the side of overproofed rather than underproofed. 

  • The loaf can be retarded (refrigerated) in step 7 for 8 to 24 hours, depending upon whatever timing is most convenient for your schedule (it will get more slightly more sour in flavor the longer it proofs).

Overall Formula

89.0% high protein all-purpose flour

7% instant mashed potato flakes

4.0% rye flour

78% water

2.2% salt

5% levain

Final Formula

378g cool (75˚F) water

35g instant mashed potato flakes

25g levain

432g high protein all-purpose flour

20g rye flour

11g salt

  1. Place 10 grams (~2 teaspoons) water in small bowl and set aside. Place ~70g water and potato flakes in large bowl and whisk until smooth past forms. Add remaining water and levain in large bowl and stir with whisk until levain is mostly dissolved. Add flours and stir until no dry flour remains. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.

  2. Sprinkle salt over dough, add reserved water, and knead gently in bowl until incorporated. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  3. Using lightly wet hands, fold dough until tight and uniform, 6 to 8 folds.

  4. Desired dough temperature: 70-75˚F

  5. Bulk Fermentation: 11-13 hours at 75˚F, until dough is domed, bubbly, and at least doubled in volume. A peek at the underside of the dough along the edges of the bowl should also show a web of fine bubbles.

  6. Preshape into round and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  7. Shape and transfer to floured banneton, couche, or lined basket. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes, then transfer to refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours.

  8. One hour before baking bread, adjust oven rack to middle position, set covered heavy-bottomed Dutch oven on rack, and heat oven to 475 degrees.

  9. Lay 12- by 12-inch sheet of parchment paper on counter. Remove loaf from fridge, dust bottom of loaf with flour, and invert onto center of parchment paper.

  10. Carefully remove Dutch oven from oven, place on stovetop, and set lid aside. Score loaf as desired. Pick up dough by lifting parchment edges and lower into Dutch oven. Carefully cover pot and transfer to oven. Bake for 20 minutes.

  11. Carefully remove Dutch oven from oven, place on stovetop, and set lid aside. Remove loaf from pot and transfer to bare oven rack. Reduce oven temperature to 450˚F and continue to bake until loaf is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes longer.