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cdh

Minimalist No-Knead Bread Technique (Part 1)

595 posts in this topic

Does anyone else wish the measurements had been given in mass? Despite seeing exactly how the measuring was done in the video?

eta: Two modifications I'd look at for next time, if this is as promising as the article made it sound: swapping in some whole wheat flour, and replacing the smidge of yeast with some of my sourdough started. That's where I really miss not having masses. Guess I'll just have to weigh things next time myself.

MelissaH

I converted to weight, 1 cup = 4.5 oz (should have used a tad more after checking online for conversions, I found it should have been 4.83 oz) and of course water 1oz (volumn) = 1oz (weight). I'm at work and the dough is in the bowl sitting on the counter at home since about 10PM last night. I'm really excited to try this..hope it works well. I'm going to use cast iron, but will watch closely due to the dark color. I'll use rice flour on the towel...it works great! Let y'all know on Monday how this works out.


Just a simple southern lady lost out west...

"Leave Mother in the fridge in a covered jar between bakes. No need to feed her." Jackal10

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Sooo... the bread should be cool soon; do let us see the inside and tell us how it tastes!

The loaf is cool. The crust has cracked a touch, but that doesn't bother me. However, I'm not going to cut it open for a couple more hours. We're hosting a pre-game dinner tonight with a few friends, and I'm keeping the bread whole for the "oooh" factor. (It's going with meat loaf, spaghetti squash, and broccoli.) I will, however, take pictures when I slice into it.

Sorry to keep you all hanging. :laugh:

I should add that the bread was really easy to make, and involved less hands-on time than many other recipes I've tried. My house is also at about 65 +/- 1 degree F, so it's a little cooler than the recipe specified, but I didn't run into a problem with this particular dough.

As far as the weight, if you watch the video, you can see exactly how the flour was measured by the baker. In this case, he scoops out the flour from a large bowl and then seems to shake the measuring cup to level the top (which would of course pack more flour into the cup). He's presumably using a one-cup dry measuring cup to do the flour.

The water also got scooped out of a bowl with a DRY measuring cup. The video's not quite as clear about how the water is measured, but there are clearly two different measuring cups on the bench, so it's logical to assume that the other is a half-cup measure.

Next time I try this, I'll measure it as the video does, but add it to a bowl on my scale to get proper mass measurements for easy duplication.

I'm curious to hear how the bread does in a dark cast-iron pan. (Maybe that's an experiment I'll have to do myself in the same oven, to get the direct comparison.)

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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That caught my attention as well when he was using the measuring cups. I thought he used a dry measure for the liquid, and it appears to be all shot in one take. Will check back tomorrow for your "Internal" investigation MelissaH, and thanks for doing the dirty work and blazing a trail. He also said "one and half" when measuring the water, so the adjustment in the recipe to one and five eights may have been some sort of compensation.

I want to sub some rye flour into the recipe in the future, if this works out for me.


Edited by annecros (log)

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That caught my attention as well when he was using the measuring cups. I thought he used a dry measure for the liquid, and it appears to be all shot in one take. Will check back tomorrow for your "Internal" investigation MelissaH, and thanks for doing the dirty work and blazing a trail. He also said "one and half" when measuring the water, so the adjustment in the recipe to one and five eights may have been some sort of compensation.

I want to sub some rye flour into the recipe in the future, if this works out for me.

I, too, noticed that the printed recipe said one and five eighths, whereas the video specified one and a half. For this first go-round, I pretty much followed suit from the video. But I didn't feel like getting out a half-cup measure, so I just eyeballed the five-eighths part as a little more than halfway full of my one-cup. The dough was plenty gloppy, but definitely foldable this morning.

In my photos above, you can sort of see where the loaf split on its own. The split seems to be more or less along a fold (remember, it rises on the towel seam down, but goes into the pot seam up).

Ooh, rye flour. Possibly with some sourdough added? Or...I could get some cornmeal that isn't blue, and use that in the loaf! All kinds of possible variations to try, and I bet among eG we'll try most of them.

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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For those of you who are experienced at baking breads, could you suggest some possible variations to try?

What would be the likely result of adding more flour?

What would be the likely result of adding more water?

What would be the likely result of substituting egg for part of the water, for the same total volume?

How about other types of flours, as annecros has suggested?

Would the amount of yeast need to be adjusted for added egg, or other flours?

I find this whole thing quite intriguing, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with it.

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The flour and water additions would depend on quantity. More flour will make the dough dryer, harder to work. More water would make it softer, and maybe equally harder to work.... Since you're already working with a highly hydrated dough, I wouldn't suggest more water (unless you're working in a very dry atmosphere).

Egg is considered a fat and will potentially soften the crust and moisten the crumb, making it a little more tender, and a little heavier.

The yeast should remain constant.

The egg/water substitution should be essentially to 1 to 1.... at least, I believe that's what you would do with baker's math.

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I could not wait. Here it is. It went through a 14 hour rise, 2-1/2 hour second rise. I did not find it soupy as others did. (I used Whole Foods 365 brand organic all purpose flour). The only downside was I burned a finger when it touched the extremely hot Le Cruset pot. WATCH OUT! The darkened part on the top was a bubble that burst when I flipped it out of the pot.

gallery_39515_3791_40887.jpg

I couldn't wait to see the inside so I cut it open. It's a very soft crumb, tasty, though not as tasty as my sourdough. Crust was perfect. Salt was good, reading other posts I went up to 2 tsp sea salt. I'd say the recipe is a winner, though will try it next time with a starter and maybe 20 percent King Arthur whole wheat white.

gallery_39515_3791_65503.jpg

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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?

I took my loaf out of the oven an hour ago. It is beautiful and exactly as Leahy said it should be . I used a 5 qt oval le Creuset and had no problem. I think 4.5 qt might work but definitely nothing smaller as the dough might hit against the lid.

I think the recipe does not call for enough salt. That is the only fault I can find with it and easily remedied.

Ruth

'kay, I started a batch of this within five minutes of spotting the article. (Finished reading it as I worked.)

Worked pretty well--looks *beautiful*--but various issues/ideas/thoughts:

1. It was so wet even after 18 hours that the idea of "folding" it as instructed was like folding pudding. Couldn't put it in the pot seam-side up as instructed because there weren't no seam. Two possible reasons:

a. It's a volume- (not weight-)measure recipe so it's possible there was too little flour--flour-to-water ratio was short.

b. My house thermostat kicks down at night to about sixty, so maybe it didn't do enough fermenting to build the glutens/align the proteins. Longer time or consistent warmth might change that.

2. When I pulled it out of the oven it had a great crunchy crust, but by the time it cooled it was chewy not crunchy. I  only cooked it to light/medium brown (15 minutes after the pot lid came off), not dark brown. That might explain it.

3. The internal bubbles are beautiful, but the texture is much more elastic, even rubbery, than I tend to like. Would prefer more crumby. I wonder if one of the following would change that:

a. higher flour-to-water ratio

b. longer/more fermentation

c. longer/browner cooking

4. I am an almost obsessively minimalist bread baker. Read: lazy. (My everyday toast/sandwich white bread involves 5 minutes/2 hours rising/form into loaves (never touching the bread board which would require cleaning)/half hour rising/bake.) So this recipe is *way* attractive to me. Drawbacks:

a. It really gums up the bread board, which then must be cleaned. (Which in turn gums up the sponge... I told you I'm lazy.)

b. It *really* gums up the towel that's recommended. Pain to clean.

BTW, it does *not* stick to the pan as I feared. If I get good success with this I'll devote a pot to it that I rarely or never bother to clean, like my bread pans.

I have another batch fermenting now (which seems to be a bit drier). I'm going to try minimalizing it even more, going straight from the bowl (maybe knocking/stirring it down once for a second rising) into the hot pot, forming it a little bit with oiled hands in transit.

I'll let you know. Other folks' results?

Steve

I'm with you two. Too wet, not enough salt. Really not very good except for the crust. I wonder if more salt would kill the yeast and prevent the proof?


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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How much heat can a romertopf stand? Thanks-


BeefCheeks is an author, editor, and food journalist.

"The food was terrible. And such small portions...."

--Alvy Singer

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How much heat can a romertopf stand? Thanks-

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

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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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

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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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


"Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon." --Dalai Lama

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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.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

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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 (log)

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

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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 (log)

Ruth Friedman

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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 (log)

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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!

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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!!


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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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.

gallery_39515_3791_67179.jpg

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.

gallery_39515_3791_72757.jpg

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

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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.

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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 (log)

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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:

gallery_6263_35_75453.jpg

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.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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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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