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Minimalist No-Knead Bread Technique (Part 1)

Bread

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#61 andiesenji

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 05:17 PM

How much heat can a romertopf stand? Thanks-

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No higher than 450 degrees:
as they say
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#62 andiesenji

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 05:59 PM

Regarding baking this type of bread in plain cast iron.

I have an old (ancient) cast iron footed "Dutch" oven, sometimes called a doufeu, which is the French take on a self-basting lid - ice cubes are placed in the depression on the top. But these old cast iron pots have been around a long time. Chuckwagon cooks in the "Old-West" depended on them for baking breads, including sourdough.

I used to bake sourdough and yeast bread, rolls, baking powder biscuits, etc., in it on camping trips.
I have also used it in several different barbecues, including the Weber large kettle.
The pot is placed directly in the coals and more coals are heaped on top of the flat lid with the rim that keeps them from falling off.
These are modern ones, mine has a deeper rim.

Lodge makes them and markets them as "Camp" Dutch ovens they have a 12 inch size that is just perfect for bread. these also have a deeper rim.

The bread bakes more rapidly in a closed barbecue but also bakes just fine in an open fire, in a fireplace or whatever. If it is properly seasoned, the bread will not stick - I generally just stuck a long fork into it near and edge and levered the loaf out.

The pot I have is quite rare - I have never seen another like it. It has "J. Wright" "# 12" stamped on the bottom and #12 stamped on the underside of the lid. Penn. is stamped on the underside of each "ear" to which the heavy wire bail is connected.
"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett
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#63 SparrowsFall

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 08:11 PM

Okay, second batch is done. I cooked it darker and that solved the problem of the crust softening after cooling--wonderful crust, lots of oohs and aahs from friends and family. Interior is still a bit more elastic than I like, but the extra cooking definitely improved it.

The lid on the pot (I assume any pot would work fine) is the big Aha here.

MUCH SIMPLER: After the first rise, poke it down with your wooden spoon in the bowl. I even managed to "fold" it twice with the spoon, though I suspect this is little more than a fetish--not sure it has any effect. Another two hours, then straight from the bowl into a hot Le Creuset. Untouched by human hands. The results seemed largely identical to the folded and handled version.

We're talking three minutes to mix (rise 18 hours) one minute to knock down (rise two hours) then bake. One bowl and one wooden spoon, both a breeze to clean. For a pretty darned impressive loaf.

I'll definitely up the salt a bit next time. Two teaspoons sounds right.

The dough for the second batch was a bit drier, seemed more manageable. Variations of volume measuring. (Though weight measuring has humidity issues...) Bittman says that the water/flour ratio doesn't seem to be much of a critical issue with this recipe, and based on my two loaves, that's true.

I have a third batch rising now. I'm tempted to skip the second rising and see what happens...

Steve
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#64 maggiethecat

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Posted 10 November 2006 - 11:10 PM

It was good. The crust crackled, we got tons of oven spring ... a very very good loaf.

I think we're ditching the wooden spoon next time, and we'll take it for a short spin in the KA -- we had a few gobs of unmixed flour, totally embarrassing.

But oh, the crackle and flavor. This was fun. It works.

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#65 weinoo

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 05:59 AM

My first try was fairly unsuccessful - the dough was so wet that folding it was nearly impossible...I did what I could...and after a second rise, it went into the super hot cast-iron pot...no real oven spring, so I ended up with a foccacia-like bread (in looks) which actually tasted okay - great crust, I might add...but definitely in need of a bit more salt.

So I set up my scale and found that the way I scooped the flour (not like the video, but with a scoop into a cup and then leveled off) gave me 4.2 oz. of flour, whereas when I used the scoop method (a la the video) I ended up with 4.8 oz. of flour - quite a difference!

I set up a weighed batch last night around midnight, which will bake sometime around 5 today, and I'm really looking forward to this loaf! Everyone's pics look fabulous.

Edited by weinoo, 11 November 2006 - 12:35 PM.

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#66 Ruth

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 07:22 AM

Eagerly awaiting the next installment of your story, MelissaH! 

Two nights ago, I started this recipe.  Our kitchen has been a bit cold, so I put some water in the crock pot, inverted the lid, topped with towels, and set the bread bowl on it.  Upon checking the next morning, I was unhappy to learn that a lot of heat was coming out of the crock pot --way too much.  So I turned off the pot and set the bowl aside on the counter.  When I arrived home from work last night, I followed the rest of the directions, but the dough didn't rise a second time.  Looks like the initial excess of heat did it in.  I didn't bake it.





When the house is cold I use a heating pad inside a regular cardboard box and let the dough proof on a rack over the pad with a towel over the box to keep in the heat
The pad has three temperature settings and I am usually able to keep the box in the low to mid70's
For this no-kead bread the system worked perfectly


Ruth

Edited by Pam R, 11 November 2006 - 12:11 PM.

Ruth Friedman

#67 merrybaker

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 09:43 AM

Back to high school algebra!

The NYT article says the dough is about 42% water. The recipe calls for 1+5/8 cup water (13 oz.) So, 42% of the combined flour and water is 13 oz. Then:

.42 (flour + 13) = 13
.42 flour + .42(13) = 13
.42 flour + 5.46 = 13
.42 flour = 13 - 5.46
.42 flour = 7.54
flour = 7.54/.42
flour = 17.95 oz. :wacko:

Or let's say about 18 oz. flour

That's about 6 oz. flour per cup, more than most have been using. That could be why many have said the dough is too wet.

BTW, this works out to a 72% hydration dough.

Mine is rising now, and I based it on 18 oz. flour, so we'll see how this works out in real life.

Edited by merrybaker, 11 November 2006 - 09:45 AM.


#68 jgm

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 11:48 AM

I'm very pleased with the results of my bread, but it was not without problems.

The main problem is that it didn't rise very much the second time. Could the culprit be a too-cold kitchen? The yeast is pretty fresh; it doesn't expire for several more months. And also, I allowed it to rise for 20 hours, because of my schedule.

Any input would be appreciated!

#69 weinoo

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 12:52 PM

Thanks, merrybaker!

On my second try, which was weighed at 15 oz. flour, the dough is also too wet to be able to shape into a boule...3 more oz. of flour may just do the trick...much more flour by weight per cup than what I thought was generally accepted as the conversion factor... 4.25 oz. per spooned cup of flour in the King Arthur Bread Book.

It looks as if based on the amount of water in the Times recipe, the flour should actually be more than 4 cups!!
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#70 Fromartz

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 03:23 PM

I used the recipe proportions and found it was not too soupy ... the difference here may be due to flour since different flours produce different hydrations.

I also just tried a sourdough version (I use metric so the conversions are equivalent hydration)
375 grams water = 12 ounces
500 grams flour = 16 ounces
100 grams starter (50 percent hydration starter) = 4 ounces
1 tbs salt (a bit salty but I like it that way)

So this recipe is slighter more hydrated - about 75 percent vs. 72 percent in the recipe.

I did a 15 hour first rise, 2 hour second rise in a bratform. I rose a baguette in a couche.

I used a 500 degree oven for the first 15 minutes, then went down to 480 for 15 minutes. The baguette cooked at 500 for 15 minutes (with steam by pouring water into a broiler pan on the bottom of the oven).

The boule was a bit small and spread out rather than rounded in shape and on the outside looks a little overpoofed. The baguette looks better. Based on the baguette, I don't think I let it rise too long - I think the boule didn't spring much because it was too small and spread out.

Posted Image

The boule had good large bubbles, light crumb and a kick-ass taste that hands-down beats straight yeast. Using only a little bit of starter (about 10 percent of total) gives you great flavor but not the sour acidic taste typical of SF sourdough that I try to avoid.

Posted Image

I think the rising was helped by the fact that we had a pleasant 75 degree day in DC today.

#71 Fromartz

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 03:25 PM

Just to compare to my previous post here is a picture of the yeast version. Holes are slighly smaller and the crumb was softer than the sourdough.

Posted Image

#72 merrybaker

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 03:41 PM

Well, I baked a half-recipe in a 2.5 liter Corningware dish with a thick metal lid from another pan, using 6.5 oz water and 9 oz flour. That works out to the 42% water mentioned in the article. It made a loaf 7" diameter, and 3.75" high. The flavor is good enough, but the holes aren't as large as I'd like, so next time I'll try a little less flour. The crust is spectacular! As soon as I removed it from the oven, there was musique du pain loud and clear! Another change would be to preheat at 450 degrees. I preheated at 500 and baked at 450, and the bottom got too brown.

#73 Abra

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 05:22 PM

Oh, I'm so glad I've waited to start my dough until someone else did the math - thanks, Merrybaker! Plus, I've heard and loved la musique du pain but I never knew the name for it. Wonderful.

I'm going to start some now for baking tomorrow morning.

Edited by Abra, 11 November 2006 - 05:23 PM.


#74 snowangel

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 08:51 PM

I baked this today, and used the measurements exactly as specified in the recipe. My comments:

If you think your LC pot is clean, just wait until it sits in a 450 oven for 45 minutes -- empty. The boy earned $2.00 by taking bar keepers friend to it. I'm embarrassed to show the photo of the pot.

This bread is easy, but odd. The crust is great, and we ended up eating the crust, but leaving the middle. The middle part was just flat too wet and "heavy" although I did get some magnificent holes:

Posted Image

Also not terribly well flavoured. I did up the salt to 2 t., but still...

This was not nearly as good as the Mixed Starter Bread I baked recently from Baking with Julia. The mixed starter bread was just, well, more flavourful, and the crumb was not nearly as wet. I did use the instant read before I pulled the Minimalist bread from the oven, and perhaps I should have taken it higher than the 210 degrees (F) that I did. Perhaps the Minimalist bread would have more flavour if a person were to let it rise (ferment?) at room temp for 12 hours, fridge for 12 hours, and then give it another 12 hours to work magic? Add more flour? I dunno, but I know that I'll next time again do the Mixed Starter bread. But, I'm a bread novice.

Edited to add: The bread came out of the LC so easily, and when I set it on a rack, it crackled! The kids got a kick out of thatl. First noisy bread I've ever made.
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#75 Sony

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 09:22 PM

I'm so excited to see everyone's results! I have sadly not been able to start this baking project because I can NOT find instant yeast anywhere in local grocery stores! My unserstanding is that instant yeast is different than rapid rise or regular active dry yeast.....

What's a girl to do? As a novice baker, I'm not sure is any substitutions for the instant yeast are appropriate. Suggestions, please?

And snowangel, I hope your LeCreuset is OK. Thank goodness for Barkeeper's Friend- and helping hands!

#76 cookman

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Posted 11 November 2006 - 10:14 PM

I'm so excited to see everyone's results! I have sadly not been able to start this baking project because I can NOT find instant yeast anywhere in local grocery stores! My unserstanding is that instant yeast is different than rapid rise or regular active dry yeast.....

What's a girl to do? As a novice baker, I'm not sure is any substitutions for the instant yeast are appropriate. Suggestions, please?

And snowangel, I hope your LeCreuset is OK. Thank goodness for Barkeeper's Friend- and helping hands!

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Rapid rise yeast is the same as instant yeast.

Rapid rise yeast is more finely granulated than active dry yeast, so it does not need to be dissolved in a liquid first. It can be added directly to the dry ingredients.

#77 Fromartz

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 09:13 AM

This bread is easy, but odd.  The crust is great, and we ended up eating the crust, but leaving the middle.  The middle part was just flat too wet and "heavy" although I did get some magnificent holes:

Also not terribly well flavoured.  I did up the salt to 2 t., but still...

This was not nearly as good as the Mixed Starter Bread I baked recently from Baking with Julia.  The mixed starter bread was just, well, more flavourful, and the crumb was not nearly as wet.  I did use the instant read before I pulled the Minimalist bread from the oven, and perhaps I should have taken it higher than the 210 degrees (F) that I did.  Perhaps the Minimalist bread would have more flavour if a person were to let it rise (ferment?) at room temp for 12 hours, fridge for 12 hours, and then give it another 12 hours to work magic?  Add more flour?  I dunno, but I know that I'll next time again do the Mixed Starter bread.  But, I'm a bread novice.


I would go up to a 500 degree oven, or cook it 5 minutes longer than you did. The wet crumb is from being undercooked. Also, to build flavor make this bread but retain 1/4 cup of the dough and put it in the refrigerator. When you make the next batch, within 2 days or so, add that 1/4 cup old dough to the water required in the recipe and break it up, then mix as usual with the flour, salt, yeast. This is a traditional baker technique and will add flavor.

#78 Fromartz

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 09:15 AM

I am using active dry yeast and it works fine. It does not need to be dissolved first, but you can throw the 1/4 tsp into the water if you like.

#79 SusanGiff

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 09:18 AM

If you think your LC pot is clean, just wait until it sits in a 450 oven for 45 minutes -- empty.  The boy earned $2.00 by taking bar keepers friend to it.  I'm embarrassed to show the photo of the pot.

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No kidding! I made a loaf yesterday and for a while I was afraid I'd completely destroyed the color of my lovely yellow pot. Then I had to go to the Le Creuset website for care instructions, fill both the pot and the sink--because the outside was messier than the interior--with a bleach/water solution and go to a movie while it all soaked. Now it's clean, in time for me to start my second loaf. If I stick with this recipe, I may have to buy a cast-iron dutch oven just for this bread.

Which was, as others have said, delicious, with a terrific crunchy crust, but a little too wet inside. I'm not a good bread baker, and this is so easy that I'll probably keep making it anyway. For the batch I'm making now, I upped the flour by half a cup (haven't gotten into weighing yet). I let it rise longer than the first batch, but it actually seems even soupier than the first loaf I made. There was just no way to place it seam-side down for the second rising, because there was no way to make a fold or a seam. So we'll see in a couple of hours.

Susan

#80 weinoo

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 12:56 PM

I let it rise longer than the first batch, but it actually seems even soupier than the first loaf I made. There was just no way to place it seam-side down for the second rising, because there was no way to make a fold or a seam. So we'll see in a couple of hours.

Susan

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Exactly what my dough was like - and even though I floured the towel very well, the dough still stuck...but I'm looking forward to batch #3, using merrybaker's ingredient measurements.

And Fromartz, great idea to use the "old dough." How long will it stay active in the fridge?

Question - is everyone using a/p flour, or bread flour? I'm been using Gold Medal bread flour and wonder if I should just try it with a/p?
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#81 merrybaker

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 01:49 PM

If you think your LC pot is clean, just wait until it sits in a 450 oven for 45 minutes -- empty.

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Same with the Corningware I used. :shock:

and even though I floured the towel very well, the dough still stuck

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If you have rice flour, try using that to flour the towel. It's like Teflon for sticky doughs.

Question - is everyone using a/p flour, or bread flour? I'm been using Gold Medal bread flour and wonder if I should just try it with a/p?

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Did you use regular GM bread flour or their new Harvest King? I used King Arthur bread flour, but thought I might try their a/p next time.

#82 dockhl

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 02:55 PM

I bake my bread in a covered terra cotta pot (Schlemmertopf) that's essentially a cheaper version of the "La Cloche" product mentioned in the article.  The results are far, far better than with steaming the whole oven.

The bread will release from just about any surface after it's done baking.  You shouldn't need to worry about the seasoning in your pan.

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rxrfrx~

do you soak your pot first and then heat it to 450" ?

#83 phlawless

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 03:09 PM

I started my first attempt this afternoon. Some details:

-Like a lot of the other posts I read, my dough was very wet, so I added probably an extra 1/2-2/4 c flour. I am using a locally milled unbleached all purpose. I also used filtered water.

-I don't think our kitchen is quite 70 degrees, so I might let it go a little longer if needed. We are making pizza tonight for supper, so with the oven being opened a lot, maybe it will warm it up...we'll see.

Here's my dough after mixing:

Posted Image
"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

#84 Abra

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 03:57 PM

Having read about the "too wet" doughs, and trusting the 42% solution, I started with 18 oz of flour. I didn't have bread flour in the house, and used King Arthur all purpose. The dough was actually too dry (!) and I added a couple of tablespoons of water to get a moist, shaggy mass. Having worked with slack doughs a fair amount, I'd say this wasn't nearly as wet as a ciabatta would normally be. Based on comments here, I also upped the salt to 2 tsp of DC kosher.

The only yeast I have right now is SAF Gold, which is an instant yeast formulated for sweet and fermented doughs. Although it's not what's called for, I figured it would work fine with the overnight ferment.

My oven has a Proof setting, so I let the dough proof in that for about 8 hours, then turned off the oven for the night and left the dough to its own devices in the slightly warmed oven overnight.

I was able to round the dough up onto a boule with no problem. The dough wasn't sticky or wet, just tender.

Posted Image
I set it on floured parchment, since I couldn't see any reason to use a towel. I did cover it with a floured towel. It didn't rise much during the second rise period, maybe 25 - 30%.

I baked it in my cloche, which I preheated at 450 for 45 minutes. I didn't soak the cloche.

Posted Image
I got a beautiful oven spring, with the boule popping to an almost spherical shape. I baked it to an internal temperature of 205, when it sounded hollow as a drum. The crust was crunchy, rather than shattering, but it did sing as it cooled.

Posted Image
Here's where we can see that the dough wasn't wet enough. While the texture is partly open, I would have liked bigger holes, and a more even distribution. I think that's all about the wetness - right?

Posted Image
The crumb was elastic and moist. Oh, and some garlic roasted in duck fat goes really well with this bread!

Overall, I'd say the bread was very good for the amount of work involved. I've made a number of breads with a 2-3 day ferment, and they have better flavor. But I think that Fromartz' suggestion to use a bit of old dough would solve that. I'd still like more salt, and will probably take it to 2 1/4 tsp next time, remembering that it's DC kosher I'm talking about, not table salt. I think a little semolina flour would also boost the flavor.

So for me, next time will be a little wetter, a little saltier, and though I forgot to save dough to add next time, I will put in a touch of semolina flour. Fortunately, it makes a smallish loaf so I won't have to wait too long to try again.

#85 hsm

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 04:26 PM

My very first loaf of bread is out of the oven and in me (well, not all of it, not yet, anyway).
Thanks to Ruth, MelissaH and SparrowsFall for their encouragement and the (even more) simplified way - and to everyone for all the info.

I used King Arthur AP flour and scooped 3 cups with a little settling, so I'm sure I was on the high-side of the flour measurement, 1 5/8 cups of water plus a couple of extra tablespoons because it seemed a little dry (like Abra's). I let it sit for 18 hours, about half that time on top of the oven, which was turned to warm - the temp is cool in my kitchen - and then another 2 hours after I scooped it over itself a few times.

Following SparrowsFall advice, the dough went from the bowl to the LC. The place smelled divine. My timing and the look of the loaf is very close to MelissaH's (sorry, no camera). And sure enough, it slid easily onto the rack.

And it's tasty! :wub:

There were a couple of small blisters on the top and quite a few small and medium holes inside but is a little denser than I'd imagined (or hoped for) so perhaps a little wetter next time? And there will be a next time! Forgive a newbie's newbie enthusiasm, but I did a small happy dance. (We'll see what kind of bread-baking monster this creates.) :wink:

#86 Abra

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 05:24 PM

I sent Mark Bittman an email asking him to drop by this thread and chat with us about this technique. I don't think I've ever seen him on eG, but it would be great to get his input.

#87 tamiam

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 05:40 PM

I'm so glad that you invited Mark B to drop by. It would be great to get his insights and ideas.

And I am totally going to borrow the floured parchment idea when mine is done fermenting later on.
Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther

#88 cookman

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 06:24 PM

I sent Mark Bittman an email asking him to drop by this thread and chat with us about this technique.  I don't think I've ever seen him on eG, but it would be great to get his input.

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Great idea. I've been thinking all along that the best way to get the proportions right here is to ask Bittman to ask Jim Lahey at Sullivan's Street Bakery to convert the recipe he gave out to metric (weight) measurements, for us compulsive eGulleteers.

#89 Abra

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 07:14 PM

Of course, MB doesn't know me from Eve, so there's no guarantee he'll even consider it.

#90 SusanGiff

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Posted 12 November 2006 - 07:32 PM

May I ask a total amateur question that possibly belongs in another thread?

Is there a connection between this super-long rise and the method of baking the bread? In other words, could you use a different bread recipe and also bake that in a hot pot for a crunchy crust? Or is the high water content here necessary to get the amount of steam you need for the crunch?

Thanks.

Susan





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