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Minimalist no-knead bread technique

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#751 agray

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 06:58 AM

Very interesting. It might be worth giving this a try along with something Peter Reinhart blogged about last week - using a roasting pan lid (or aluminum roasting pan) as an ad-hoc couche. With a wet dough like this the bread would generate its own steam and the pan would keep it in so you'd get enhanced oven spring and a good crust without messing about with steam trays and spraying. I don't have any dough on the go right now, but I'll give it a shot in a day or two and see what happens.

Here's the link to Peter's post: http://peterreinhart...other-news.html (he's also updated this post with a link to a website where someone has a video of it in action - http://www.northwest...ite/videos.html).
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#752 Gayle28607

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Posted 30 November 2009 - 07:22 AM

Thanks for the link, agray. I have a sourdough rye loaf retarded in the fridge right now. I had planned to just bake it on the stone, but may go with the make-shift couche. Then again, maybe I should keep my learning experiences themselves separate, and just proceed as planned with the sourdough, as it is my first foray in the direction of wild yeast after many years absence. I planned to start a "minimalist" loaf today if the sourdough turns into a brick.
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#753 agray

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Posted 02 December 2009 - 06:38 PM

Okay, I've been doing some experimenting with doing this on a baking stone, and I'm back to report my results.

First, I did a regular no-knead bread in a cast iron pot as a control. The recipe I used was the slightly revised version from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything. I think I may have made it a little less wet than some though, as he didn't give weights, just cup sizes (curses!). So for 4 cups, I used 20 oz of flour (25% whole wheat) to 16 oz of water with just under 1/2 tsp of yeast and 2 tsp of salt.

I gave it 8 hours but it looked to be rising a bit fast for me, so I put it in the fridge overnight. Next morning I gave it a couple of hours to warm up then put it on the counter for another couple of hours before baking. I left the lid on for the first 30 minutes then gave it another 15 or so.

bittman_noknead.jpg

bittman_noknead4.jpg

It came out beautifully, with a browned, crispy crust, and a great crumb.

Then today I tried doing the same recipe but hearth baking with an aluminum pan as a makeshift couche.

no_knead_deux1.jpg

Again, it seemed to rise quick quickly and I was worried about overproofing. This picture is after 11 hours in a cool kitchen. I threw it in the fridge again for 2 1/2 hours, then brought it out to warm up. I shaped it into a rough ball and put it on parchment for 2 3/4 hours as it warmed.

no_knead_deux2.jpg

I misted the surface with water and slashed it.

no_knead_deux3.jpg

I put it on my baking stone (oven pre-heated with the stone at 500 degrees for 45 minutes) and popped the aluminum pan on it. It had a remarkable spring - after 20 minutes it had lifted the pan up off the stone, and I took it off. Less than 20 minutes later it was done.

no_knead_deux4.jpg

It rose so quickly it ended up a bit pointed at the top. It did seem a little blistered on the outside, and I think I am overproofing this recipe a little, but it did turn out to have a lovely crumb, though the crust is fairly soft. It also seemed a little bit less flavourful than my first batch, but this may be related to the longer fermentation of the first recipe (even if 10 hours of that was in the fridge).

no_knead_deux.jpg

So, verdict - interesting indeed. I was impressed with the bountiful oven spring under the aluminum pan, but the crust was definitely not as crisp as with the cast-iron pot. And also, I am going to have to look at my ratios, as I think Bittman's recipe may be using 4oz cups while I'm using 5oz, which is a 20% difference, making my dough dryer than some. I wonder also about using less yeast. Looks like some more experiments are in order.
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#754 melissafitz

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 05:55 PM

i'm sure others have discussed this here, but i've altered the recipe a bit for taste and have come up with a delicious orange/cranberry/nut bread --

for the water, replace juice of 1 orange, zest of said orange and water mixture to equal 1 5/8 cup
add heaping handful of cranberries
add tbsp of anise seed


when doing the quick knead, add heaping handful of toasted walnuts or pecans

bake as directed.

amazing sliced thin w/ creamy goats milk cheese

#755 Gayle28607

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Posted 15 December 2009 - 06:03 PM

i'm sure others have discussed this here, but i've altered the recipe a bit for taste and have come up with a delicious orange/cranberry/nut bread --

for the water, replace juice of 1 orange, zest of said orange and water mixture to equal 1 5/8 cup
add heaping handful of cranberries
add tbsp of anise seed


when doing the quick knead, add heaping handful of toasted walnuts or pecans

bake as directed.

amazing sliced thin w/ creamy goats milk cheese


That sounds really good. I'm going to have to try it. Thanks for posting!
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#756 deensiebat

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 10:17 AM

The ugly side of this recipe: I've been making tons of no-knead bread, using a cast iron Dutch oven with a clear glass pyrex lid. Unfortunately, any stray drops or films of oil on the lid (of which there have been many) have baked to a pretty unappealing dark brown, and are totally impossible to remove. Any advice? Other than resorting to oven cleaner?

#757 judiu

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Posted 17 February 2010 - 11:55 AM

The ugly side of this recipe: I've been making tons of no-knead bread, using a cast iron Dutch oven with a clear glass pyrex lid. Unfortunately, any stray drops or films of oil on the lid (of which there have been many) have baked to a pretty unappealing dark brown, and are totally impossible to remove. Any advice? Other than resorting to oven cleaner?

Try this: remove strainer from sink drain, and put lid, knob down into the drain, and sprinkle the grease stains with baking soda. Fill lid with hottest tap water you have, and let soak. The crud should be able to be wiped off after a couple of hours. If not, try Bartender's Friend. HTH!
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#758 cajungirl

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Posted 23 February 2010 - 10:20 AM

Has anyone gotten Jim Lahey's new book? I got it a couple of weeks ago and am having a great time. The cheese bread is delightful and I substituted sundried tomatoes for the olives in the olive bread, again, its terrific. Today it will be a plain loaf with a little semolina added...this is also very "yum". :wub:
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#759 nakji

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 10:13 AM

A friend gifted me with a large-ish clay pot for Christmas this year, so I thought I'd have a go at this bread. I introduced the recipe to my parents in Canada, who bake it regularly in their cast iron dutch oven, to great success. I have a hard time getting my hands on proper Western-style bread, so if I can get into a rhythm making this bread, it'd improve my morning toast frequency dramatically.

I put on a batch this afternoon at 4pm, and am hoping to punch it down tomorrow morning at 8 and bake it off at ten. The dough is shaggy but not nearly as liquid as some of the doughs I have seen in this topic - having just read through all 16 pages! I used dumpling flour, which I hope will have enough gluten to produce a good loaf. I can see that already I should have upped the salt to 2 tsp; I've noted that for future use.

With the clay pot, I'm hoping I won't have any sticking issues. I can see that many people eschewed the towels listed in the original recipe; am I right in concluding from the experiments here that a successful loaf can be produced by just mixing down after the long rise in the same bowl as before, and then after the short rise, turning the dough straight from the mixing bowl into the heated pot? Or should I turn it onto parchment or something else?

The other question I have is with regards to creating a starter/flavour enhancer. While any bread will be an improvement on the local product, I would like to make a reasonably-decent tasting loaf. On page 10, annecros lists out her method -

Oh, it is so standard. Equal portions flour and water. I am sure others here who have more experience with sour doughs will chime in, and I am honestly incredibly inprecise in my cooking! I think this is why this recipe appeals to me on such a gut level.

I pinch off a tablespoon of the ferment before I shape and dump it into a glazed crock that would otherwise be gathering dust on a shelf. 4 tablespoons of flour (been half and half rye/bread flour lately, just because) then because the ferment is stiffer, 6 tablespoons of cold water, stir it up (but casually, so that the dough will not think it is important or something) with a wooden spoon, cover it with the lid and ignore it. The next morning after about two cups of coffee I have the "climb" on the side of the inside of the crock ("they" tell me you look for this, and it sort of looks like refuse on the inside of a milk glass that a teenager has left on the dresser, in all honesty, I think it is where the dough puffed up and then blew out) and the liquid inside is full of tiny bubbles. I dump about a third of it out, go back in with 3 tablespoons of flour and 3 tablespoons of water, stir it nonchalantly while talking to someone else in the room or the TV, cover it with the lid. Ignore it until late afternoon when I make up the next batch of dough. I then dump it into the flour, salt, yeast stir up then add water for a shaggy ball.

I have had much better success recently in proportion to the amount of inattention I pay to the loaf. In fact, I am almost convinced that ignoring it is a vital step in the process.


This addition is meant to improve the flavour, but not replace the yeast in the recipe, is that right?

#760 nakji

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Posted 23 January 2011 - 02:19 AM

My first attempt:

After "kneading":

Posted Image

I put it on the towels rather than parchment, as it's much cheaper to wash them than it is for me to procure new parchment paper.

I thought that the 1 tsp of salt made for a good enough flavour. The crust was very crisp, and the crumb was quite moist. I was disappointed with the height, though - it didn't rise much in the oven.

Posted Image

I've got another one going now, this time with 2 tsp. of salt for comparison. I'll heat the pot for a bit longer, I think to try to get more oven spring. Otherwise I'm quite happy.

#761 Mjx

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 07:44 AM

When is the lid supposed to come off?

I'm in the middle of giving this a go (540g flour, 0.5 L water), gave it 18 hours to rise, got in in the oven, and... wasn't quite certain of what to do next. I ran out of steam after reading aobut 8 of the 26 pages that have accumulated for this thread so far, an d put together my plan from what I gleaned .

I put the bread in a 450F/230C oven and set the timer for 35 minutes. I wondered about crust development with a lid on, and did get a sense that it should come off at some point. At the 35-minute mark, I removed the lid, and could see this would need another 20 minutes or so to develop a proper crust.

Did I leave the lid on too long?

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#762 nakji

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 07:59 AM

According to the original article, it comes off at twenty minutes.

#763 Mjx

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 08:53 AM

According to the original article, it comes off at twenty minutes.


Erin, thank you for pointing that out: somehow, the only original article I managed to spot was the one in the original post, which doesn't include a recipe, just a description of the process. The bread actually came out decently, anyway, and tastes terrific, which is a testament to the claim that a kid could do it. It's a bit flat (which may be partially due to my completely flaking on slashing the loaf), but not a complete pancake.

Edited by Mjx, 30 January 2011 - 09:28 AM.

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#764 xoknives

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 07:54 AM

Not sure if people are still following this but if so here goes. Has anyone tried doing the following...after the initial rise, rather than turning it out onto a floured surface leaving the loaf in the bowl and sort of pulling it all together and then dumping it into a cold enameled pot for the 2nd rise and then putting the covered enameled pot into a cold oven, turn on the heat to 450 and then cook? If you can follow what I just wrote and have tried this how long is the baking time?

My thinking is given the wetness of the dough and not really being able to do a true knead why not just fake it and leave it in the initial bowl to do the 2nd rise after a punch down with a silicone spoon/spatula. It would save a lot of cleanup and removes another variable and for those with small kitchens a simpler way to manage the process. Just thinking. If no one has tried this I guess I will have to give it a go and 'ruin' a few loaves in the process.

Thanks...

I just noticed this was my first post....woohoo. I had been reading 26 pages and did not realize I had not posted anything anywhere on eg.

Edited by xoknives, 04 March 2011 - 07:55 AM.


#765 Blether

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 08:01 AM

Not sure if people are still following this but if so here goes...


Hi, xoknives. Comgratulations on losing your breaking your duck.

My no-knead bread goes like this: mix ingredients. Shape. Put in loaf tin. Allow to rise. Preheat oven. Bake. Your approach sounds unnecessarily complicated :wink:

#766 Special K

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 09:34 AM

My no-knead bread goes like this: mix ingredients. Shape. Put in loaf tin. Allow to rise. Preheat oven. Bake. Your approach sounds unnecessarily complicated :wink:


This is exactly what I do, ever since I burned my hand trying to transfer the dough into a searing hot preheated dutch oven when I first tried this bread. Now sometimes I use a cold lidded dutch oven, sometimes a lidded pullman loaf pan, and (another breakthrough for me!) recently just a French baguette double loaf pan (no cover at all). The bread comes out fine every time.

So, while I do think the oven does need to be preheated, I have found that I don't really have to preheat the baking vessel, and I don't even have to fuss with a lid at all. I conclude that the real secret to this method is not the preheated pan, and not the lidded pan, and not the business with the towels or parchment paper or whatever. It's just that wait time.

#767 xoknives

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 09:58 AM

Thanks for the welcome mat and I did it without my 'apron' on.

Okay, one step and much mess removed. Happy to do away with a step or two. So when putting everything into a cold oven what are the cooking times? I would guess they differ from the original. Just trying to ballpark as the breads plump when you cook'em and don't want to prematurely open the lid and lose moisture or rise.

My understanding was that it was the initial blast of heat and moisture that gave it the rise. My food science is a little off.

#768 thampik

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 06:25 AM

Been meaning to try this method for ages and finally have - twice in a week - using the original NY times recipe (3 cups flour, 1 5/8 cup water etc) and a Le Creuset cocotte.

The crust was fantastic and the bread itself pretty good. Using a sourdough starter and a slower fermentation would make it even more flavorful I would imagine.

For the first loaf, I used 2 1/2 cups of Tipo '00' flour with 1/2 cups of Rye flour. 1/4 tsp yeast. 1 5/8 cup water. 2 tsp salt. Left outside for 12 hrs and in the fridge overnight. In pre-heated hot cocotte with lid for 20 mins and 20 mins without.

P1000182.gif

Did the second loaf by the book using strong white flour. 1/4 tsp yeast. 1 5/8 cup ish water. 2 tsp salt. Left to prove outside for 10 hrs and in the fridge overnight. In the cocotte with lid for 30 mins and without lid for 20.

P1000185.gif

This is the go-to bread method from now on!

#769 Blether

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 07:30 AM

... So when putting everything into a cold oven what are the cooking times? I would guess they differ from the original. Just trying to ballpark as the breads plump when you cook'em and don't want to prematurely open the lid and lose moisture or rise.

My understanding was that it was the initial blast of heat and moisture that gave it the rise. My food science is a little off.


Hi again. Mmm... how long did you bake in a pre-heated dutch oven / enamel pot ? I do a 100% wholewheat loaf of a bit over 2lbs, for ~40 minutes at 190C (375F ?) in a (greased / paper-lined) thin-walled, aluminium loaf tin, letting the loaf rise in the tin beforehand as I said. It's ready when I unmould it and rap lightly on the bottom with a knuckle and it sounds hollow. If it doesn't it goes back in the oven for 5 or 10 minutes. I could always drop the temperature by 10C / 20F if I think the extra time will brown the loaf too much, but for this loaf in my kitchen I'm well beyond that sort of experimentation.

Bakers call the oven rise when the loaf is first exposed to baking heat "oven spring", and there's much discussion, if you care to listen to it, of how to replicate the initial burst of steam that is available in commercial ovens, in the domestic one. The "advanced search" function on eGullet (gear wheel icon beside the search box) is very useful, and I can tell you that the wealth of expert knowledge on bread-making (not mine, I'm no expert) already written down in eG even in 2007, is one of the things that attracted me to join.

Nice loaves, Thampik.

Edited by Blether, 22 March 2011 - 07:31 AM.


#770 thampik

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 07:52 AM

Thanks, Blether. Now to stop myself from eating the whole damn loaf!

#771 Blether

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Posted 22 March 2011 - 08:32 AM

... So, while I do think the oven does need to be preheated, I have found that I don't really have to preheat the baking vessel, and I don't even have to fuss with a lid at all. I conclude that the real secret to this method is not the preheated pan, and not the lidded pan, and not the business with the towels or parchment paper or whatever. It's just that wait time.


Some time ago I concluded that the secret to good flavour in bread of all kinds (well, savoury loaves, rolls and pizza) is the long rise / development time. Long, undisturbed rising gives an open, coarse (big holes !) crumb. You can make the eventual crumb finer with one or more knock-downs during that time.

Kneading the dough intensively at the beginning means you can achieve a high rise in a shorter time (than with the no-knead approach). In my experience the flavour of the bread is far better after long rising / development, and the good flavour can be achieved with both no-kneaded and kneaded approaches. Good flavour in bread is important to me - far more so than crumb texture, crust, appearance - and I spent some time experimenting to find out how to get it. I've noticed significant difference between different flours, even with the long-rise approach. Some flours are stellar, others disappoint.

#772 thampik

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 01:18 AM

Blether, Can you share a no-knead recipe that delivers on flavour?

While I was delighted with the crumb and crust quality, I felt the flavour was a little lacking as compared to the regular sourdough bread that I normally bake.

The only thing I can think of where I am not following the NYT recipe is in allowing it to sit for 18 hrs outside as I think it would be significantly overproofed - mine feels on the edge in about 10-12 hrs. Maybe I am putting too much yeast (1/4 tsp) in?

Any thoughts appreciated.

#773 Blether

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 07:24 AM

Well, I won't write detail about ingredient ratios. I use a very simple flour/water/salt/yeast and I tend to like higher-side hydration. I put a tablespoon of good olive oil into a loaf made from 400g of flour, for flavour and a little more keeping power. I haven't made a point of trying leaving it out, but I'd be surprised if it has much influence on whether the loaf has stellar flavour or not.

18 hours does sound like a lot :biggrin: - but is that 'outside' as in outdoors, in the NY climate ? In which case, very much ballpark, depending on the season.

Proofing time for me tends to be around 5 - 6 hours at my 20C-or-thereabouts room temp, no knock-downs. A standard breadmaking text might well call it overproofed, but I've learned the point to stop it before it's too far gone for me. I rely on a breadmaker for a lot of my daily bread, and for 'hand-made' kneaded loaves I cheat by using it to knead dough for hand-baked loaves and for pizza, just cancelling the breadmaker cycle when I want to stop it.

When I do all-breadmaker bread, I'll add a little sugar sometimes to get a higher rise. As I expect you know, the sugar gives the yeast a fast start both at releasing gas and multiplying, so you get to any given level of raise in a shorter time. I don't get to alter the programming on the maker, and the cycles are pretty short.

For your hand-made loaves, I think you're right to question the amount of yeast you use. I like about 1/4tsp, again for 400g of flour, or less if I have the time / feel patient. I believe less is more, flavourwise, having experimented with it quite a lot. How much flour do you use 1/4tsp with ? I suspect your yeast ratio is already like or less than mine.

Lastly, flour. I had found a favourite brand, Haruyutaka, here in Japan, with an 11.3% gluten content, soft for a bread flour. It made such delicious bread - a featherlight long-rise loaf from this, some fresh butter and a cup of coffee and I was happy. Then last year it was discontinued and disappeared from the market. I don't know the details and I'd be happy even now to find I'm wrong about that (are you listening, helenjp ?!). I'm still in the process of testing for a replacement - I have - just a moment - 4 different white bread flours in stock.

My working hypothesis is that it's the weaker flours at about this level that have the flavour. I tried a couple of ultra-strong flours (for the Japan market, that is - the range seems lower here than in North America) at about 13% against the Haruyutaka, but they were nowhere. The second best was minori-no-oka, good flavour too but not as good as the Haruyutaka.

I'd be really interested to hear about your own trials. I can even feel the conversation pulling me towards the loaf tins already.

Edited by Blether, 24 March 2011 - 07:30 AM.


#774 Blether

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 07:43 AM

Rogue's Gallery:

Bread as described
Morning rolls based on the same core approach
More rolls, like it says
Creative and original garnish idea

Edited by Blether, 24 March 2011 - 07:44 AM.


#775 thampik

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Posted 24 March 2011 - 11:57 AM

Blether, Some interesting points to consider. Thanks.

I am in the middle of a variation to my original approach.

4 cups flour, 2 cups water, 1/8th tsp yeast.

I'll prove it for about 10 hrs. Stir it to remove the air pockets and leave it to prove again for 12 hrs.

Will post the results tomorrow.

#776 thampik

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 05:09 AM

I think this has been the best one yet - better flavour, more oven spring (not sure why), same crust and crumb.

Bread_3.gif

Amazing that it could be so easy to bake such good bread!

#777 Blether

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 05:57 AM

That looks excellent. Are you not yet ready to share what your variation was this time ? I wanted to ask to, what sort of ambient temperature was involved in the 12-hour rise ?

#778 thampik

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 06:47 AM

4 cups flour, 2 cups water, 1/8th tsp yeast (half as much as in my previous attempts). Wheat used was "Waitrose Very Strong Canadian Bread Flour".

First proving for about 10 hrs (at around 20C) loosely covered with plastic wrap.

Stirred to remove air pockets and left to prove again for 12 hrs (at around 16/18C)
- covered with a cotton kitchen towel.

Removed from bowl, folded over four corners and left to rest for 15 mins.

Shaped the dough gently. Left to rise for 2 hrs.

Pre-heated oven to 230C with a cast-iron cocotte for 40 mins.

Put the dough in cocotte and closed the lid and baked for 30mins. Removed lid and continued baking for another 20 mins.

#779 Blether

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 07:28 AM

Wow. That is a lot of development ! Thanks for the details. I haven't gone with bread today, but I did do a wee meat project in honour of Anglo-Scottish co-operation... to be posted over the weekend after baking off, maybe in its own topic.





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