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Minimalist No-Knead Bread Technique (Part 1)

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Fascinating article on letting time and yeast do the breadmaking work for you in order to achieve superior results. Anybody have experience with using this technique? Any thoughts on refinements that might improve on the method outlined?

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html

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although not as extreme, jeffrey hamelman and dan lepard are both proponents of wetter doughs, less kneading (by hand or machine) and longer fermentation times.

i made some ciabatta that ended up being almost "no-knead". baked on a stone with hot water thrown on the bottom of oven for crust development. i like the idea of baking in a preheated pot. i think i'll give it a try.

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Fascinating article on letting time and yeast do the breadmaking work for you in order to achieve superior results.  Anybody have experience with using this technique?  Any thoughts on refinements that might improve on the method outlined?

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html

Sounds a lot like the techniques described in Suzanne Dunaway's book, No Need To Knead. Amazon link here. I've tried several of her breads, which require little to no kneading, with excellent results.

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With the exception of one bread, I use exclusively sourdough starter for my breads and no machine mixing or kneading. And the one I do use commercial yeast with and a mixer for the initial mix doesn't get kneaded either because it's just too wet. My doughs are two-day (generally) fermentations with a build-up of flours and ingredients.

I don't know that I'd call it "minimalist," though. It's a pretty complex, drawn-out process.

For illustrative purposes, if you'd like to see my own results, you can check out my web site (pics head several of the pages there):

The Village Bakery

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Hmmm...I'd like to try out this recipe. The only thing I'm wondering is how well-seasoned a cast iron pot would have to be for this recipe. Mine is reasonably seasoned but I still wouldn't consider the surface appropriate for over-easy eggs.

I'd hate to get to the end and have a stuck loaf. Any thoughts?

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Hmmm...I'd like to try out this recipe. The only thing I'm wondering is how well-seasoned a cast iron pot would have to be for this recipe. Mine is reasonably seasoned but I still wouldn't consider the surface appropriate for over-easy eggs.

I'd hate to get to the end and have a stuck loaf. Any thoughts?

If you're going with the pot technique and are worried about your cast iron pot, I'd maybe put the dough on parchment paper first and then put it in the pot.

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Sullivan St. Bakery is one of the top bakeries I've come across and I've always been tantilized by Lehays doughs, which are very light and airy. I talked with him once and he mentioned using the Le cruset pot but I found it difficult to negotiate slipping a boule in the VERY HOT pot. But now, looking at the bread video demonstration at the NYTimes.com site (for members), it's clear he just plops the dough in and lets it deflate. The heat and steam reinflates it.

I plan on trying the technique this week and will post my results. I may also try it with sourdough...

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Devlin,

Gorgeous breads. I'm curious, what hydration do you use, when you say you don't knead?

Also I was curious that Lehay lets the bread develop 12 hours at room temperature - most sourdough recipes I've used call for a retard in the refrig because the dough would proof too long at 70 F. Do you find that to be the case?

Thanks, Sam (an avid home baker)

For illustrative purposes, if you'd like to see my own results, you can check out my web site (pics head several of the pages there):

The Village Bakery

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So, folks familiar with the workings of this technique, how would one apply this method to a dough that contains oil? Just toss it in there with the extra water and let it go... or would recalculations be required?

I have in mind something like the wonderful walnut bread from Beard on Bread. How would one hack this recipe to use the new method?

5 cups all purpose flour (preferably unbleached)

1 Tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 packages active dry yeast

2 cups warm milk

½ cup walnut oil or 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted but cool

½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped

¾ cups onion, finely chopped


Edited by cdh (log)

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So, folks familiar with the workings of this technique, how would one apply this method to a dough that contains oil?  Just toss it in there with the extra water and let it go... or would recalculations be required?

I have in mind something like the wonderful walnut bread from Beard on Bread.  How would one hack this recipe to use the new method?

5 cups all purpose flour (preferably unbleached)

1 Tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

2 packages active dry yeast

2 cups warm milk

½ cup walnut oil or 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted but cool

½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped

¾ cups onion, finely chopped

cut the yeast to 1/4 teaspoon or even less (1/8 teaspoon due to the sugar here).

Mix the oil with the other ingredients.

Increase the hydration by using some water in addition to the milk so you have a very slack dough.


Edited by cognitivefun (log)

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Fascinating article on letting time and yeast do the breadmaking work for you in order to achieve superior results.  Anybody have experience with using this technique?  Any thoughts on refinements that might improve on the method outlined?

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html

Thanks so much for sending this link. Its an interesting technique and I plan to try it this week, maybe start it tonight.... I've been experimenting with less and less kneading, but several folds as J. Hamelman teaches in his book. I will be looking for others to post their results of this technique and I will do the same :biggrin:


Edited by cajungirl (log)

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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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If you're going with the pot technique and are worried about your cast iron pot, I'd maybe put the dough on parchment paper first and then put it in the pot.

Thanks for the tip, Devlin! And I have to echo the sentiment- your breads look AMAZING and I hope my mine will bear some resemblance to those loaves. Just looking at them in a chilly, flourescent-lighted office made me feel warm.

rxrfrx, you advice has given me more confidence in trying the bread without the parchment layer. I might try it sans parchment first. Worst case scenario is I have to scrub the bottom layer of crust out of the pot.. and then try it with a parchment round :smile:

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Cool! I am going to give this a shot. I am very arthritic, most notably in my hands, and have found over the last several years that keeping my patience while kneading has become more and more difficult for me. Especially in cooler or changing weather when I most crave a loaf of bread in the oven.

Thanks. I'm excited!

:biggrin:

Anne

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I've been working from Suzanne Dunaway's No Need To Knead for a couple months now and I've been turning out some of the beast loaves I've ever made in my life using this method. It's so little work that I've begun making our basic bread for home no matter how many hours a week I'm working. I can come home at the end of the day and still do a couple loaves. It's easy. I figure with my brother's arthritis, I could still teach him to do this. Sometimes he has trouble holding a spoon but I do pretty much everything with my hands any more and don't use a spoon so much. We've pretty much stopped buying bread now.


Edited by duckduck (log)

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I have had fantastic results using an unglazed romertopf.


Edited by Wolfert (log)

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I'm excited about this because of the long rising time. I work full-time, and have been looking for a way to bake my own bread without having to schedule my life around it. This looks like it may be an answer. I'm going to let it go 20 hours instead of 18, though, and I hope that works. Otherwise, I'll have to start it at midnight, to be able to work with it again at 6 the next evening when I get home. But I am very, very excited about this recipe and method.

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Wow, cool! Given the choice between using my cloche and my Le Creuset, I wonder which would be better. In the video he emphasizes that the pan should be "blazing hot" which sounds more like the Le Creuset, unless you heat the cloche in the oven?

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I have had fantastic results using an unglazed romertopf.

Hmmmm, I have one. Do you heat it up first as in the NY Times article or use it cold?

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I have No Need to Knead and I like the method.

I use a dough bowl or dough trough because it is just easier for me.

I also took a 2-day class on "Slack-Dough Breads" a few years back. I think my brain is deteriorating because I simply cannot recall the name of the baker. Somewhere I have the "manual" which was a computer printout.

We did one batch that was started the first day, refrigerated overnight in a plastic bag and baked the next day. It did develop a lot of flavor.

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I did the No Need to Knead pizza dough the other night. Really easy. Buzz it up in the food processor, put it in a freezer bag and toss it in the fridge overnight. It was pretty decent for my first try at pizza. I think next time I might try doing it ahead so it ferments longer than just overnight. When I do Susan's pan rustica, I've started the starter before I went off to work and finished it up when I got home. It made a nice all round basic bread. I've also started the starter the night before and forgot about it until late the next day. The starter went for 18 to 20 hours and it was a nice sour bread for turkey sandwiches. Works great with a grilled turkey burger.

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I have been using the method pretty much except for mixing in a food processor (like Bittman mentions) but I am working on a sourdough batch that I mixed without the processor.

In the video the dough isn't as hydrated as my dough is. I am probably at 80% or 82%, almost a batter.

For my new sourdough batch, I mixed with cold water, retarded immediately in the refrigerator, and took out this morning and folded twice in two hours. The dough is much stickier than in the video, but it is workable due to it being cold.

Later I will proof and try the baking in a dutch oven method. Looking forward to it!

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I've been using a wet dough and minimal kneading process for pizza dough for awhile and have settled on it as the best and easiest way to get the results I seek. Makes sense that it might work well for bread also.

Granted - I reduce the amount of yeast drastically and I do knead for about five minutes or so but after that it sits in the fridge in a covered bowl and I just punch it down every once in awhile when I happen to pass through the kitchen and think to do it. Very unscientific but it works.

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I've never worked with yeast before, so forgive what may be a dumb question.

The recipe calls for using a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot and the pictures show the bread rising about half way up the sides. I've got a 4.5-quart LC oval pot I'd like to try this with. In your experience, will this work or do I need to bite the bullet and find a bigger pot?

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