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Minimalist No-Knead Bread Technique (Part 1)


cdh
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Tried it this weekend with 30% whole wheat, the rest unbleached AP, SAF instant yeast and 1.75 tsp salt. First rise at 18 hours, second rise at 3. Baked at 450. Texture was ok but a little heavy, and moist, crust was fantastic. Flavor was meh. Has anyone tried rye with commercial yeast, vs. plain with a starter, to see how flavor might develop better? Or is cold retard the way to go?

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Tried it this weekend with 30% whole wheat, the rest unbleached AP, SAF instant yeast and 1.75 tsp salt.  First rise at 18 hours, second rise at 3.  Baked at 450.  Texture was ok but a little heavy, and moist, crust was fantastic.  Flavor was meh. Has anyone tried rye with commercial yeast, vs. plain with a starter, to see how flavor might develop better?  Or is cold retard the way to go?

I have tried rye, in a good 30% dose, and it was fantastic and the most rapidly consumed loaf yet. I cannot yet advise you concerning rye with commercial yeast vs. plain with starter, as I am not there yet. Am looking forward to rye with a chef in the coming week, to see what I get.

I think the "meh" stuff, though very common, is a direct result of this community's obssession with flavor. It certainly beats any grocery store $3 loaf I have had the opportunity to consume.

Everyone here just can't stand not tinkering with it, and it is just such a flexible recipe.

I blame all the non bread bakers jumping in. It is hard for us to contain ourselves faced with success with a relatively easy recipe and method. Its like little kids around an open fire. Someone has to poke it with a stick!

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Tried it this weekend with 30% whole wheat, the rest unbleached AP, SAF instant yeast and 1.75 tsp salt.  First rise at 18 hours, second rise at 3.  Baked at 450.  Texture was ok but a little heavy, and moist, crust was fantastic.  Flavor was meh. Has anyone tried rye with commercial yeast, vs. plain with a starter, to see how flavor might develop better?  Or is cold retard the way to go?

I have tried rye, in a good 30% dose, and it was fantastic and the most rapidly consumed loaf yet. I cannot yet advise you concerning rye with commercial yeast vs. plain with starter, as I am not there yet. Am looking forward to rye with a chef in the coming week, to see what I get.

I think the "meh" stuff, though very common, is a direct result of this community's obssession with flavor. It certainly beats any grocery store $3 loaf I have had the opportunity to consume.

Everyone here just can't stand not tinkering with it, and it is just such a flexible recipe.

I blame all the non bread bakers jumping in. It is hard for us to contain ourselves faced with success with a relatively easy recipe and method. Its like little kids around an open fire. Someone has to poke it with a stick!

Hi,

A lot of that "meh" flavor may have resulted from upgrading ingredients. Substituting kosher salt for table salt without increasing the volume just does not work. It is also obvious beneficial to weigh to get appropriate hydration.

Subbing 1/2 cup semolina and adding a Tbsp. of fresh herbs was excellent.

I also want to hear about the 36 hour refrigerated rise.

Tim

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My latest experiment:

I successfully baked a loaf in my All-Clad stainless 7-quart stockpot, by lining the inside of the pot with parchment paper.

First I crumpled the parchment paper in my hands, so it would be more flexible to fit the pot. Then I completely lined the inside of the pot with parchment paper. I overlapped the sheets of parchment to cover the interior of the pot. Then I put the cover on the pot and preheated it according to recipe instructions.

When I slipped the dough from an oiled bowl into the hot pot, I was very careful not to disturb the parchment paper lining.

It worked! My loaf baked up beautifully, without damaging my precious pot.

Hope this suggestion helps anyone out there who doesn't have exactly the right pot called for in the recipe.

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My first try a few weeks ago was with a Calphalon 5qt stock pot - It worked well and all bread was rapidly consumed. Then, as luck would have it, my wife's b-day present arrived (a Le Cruset pot, slightly larger).

I baked 2 loaves head to head, and can't say that one came out better or worse than the other. I think a large part of the success of this method is just in the auto-steam due to having the lid there.

Haven't had any sticking problems (but I'm prone to overdusting with flour)

~Nibbs

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another question about the bread recipe...would it work to increase all the ingredients by a certain percent (say, 30% for example) in order to have a bigger loaf? would it work? i guess i'd have to increase the cooking time too. any thoughts?

I had good luck just doubling the recipe in a lazy way: 6 cups organic white AP flour, 3 cups filtered water, 2 tsp DC kosher salt, but only 1/4 tsp Red Star yeast. Let it sit for 18-20 hours, turned it into a bran scattered baking dish for about 45 minutes, then rolled it into a hot, cornmeal scattered LC doufeu that had spent 45 lonely minutes in a 450° oven. Baked covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 20+ minutes until it looked right and had the right sound when knocked. I agree the flavor isn't as full as loaves that start with a biga or have more salt, but that's for more experimenting. I've also made it with marinated chopped olives (not as tasty as when done with kneaded dough), sourdough, 1/2 whole wheat (home ground) and all whole wheat (too heavy.) So far, my fave is the 1/2 whole wheat. Isn't this a great recipe to play with?

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I was using a Cloche, but part way through baking today the bottom saucer broke.

Cloche saucers seem to do that...... after mine suffered a similar fate, I resorted to using the dome on top of my pizza stone. Works well, but I think auto-steam I get with the closed LC doufeu gives a better loaf.

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Having too much fun with this.....just found this thread, 5 loaves or so into my experiments with this recipe.

I've been making this with 100% whole wheat flour--mostly hard white wheat. I'm getting very tasty breads, whether or not I've added a bit of sourdough starter with the liquid, which is what keeps me coming back to play with it.

My first loaf was 450g wheat, 400g water (weighing 1 5/8 C water as carefully as I could, it was 399g). Less water made a heavier loaf. Up to 75 g sourdough starter (about a 60:40 water:flour ratio) has been ok (still using the 1/4 tsp yeast) but the starter did not add much to the already excellent flavor of the loaf.

The crumb has been mostly a bit on the gummy side, baking to 205 degrees internal temp; increasing baking time with lid off at lower temps to get to 210 degrees without scorching has simply given a thicker, heavier crust (I like crust but it has gotten a bit unpleasant). I will try taking the lid off earlier to avoid that next loaf. Haven't gotten really pretty oven spring yet.

I've been coating the towel or linen with semolina flour, and that keeps the bread from sticking to the towel, but even after drying out completely afterward, the towel ends up stiff--not just a bit floury. I'm looking forward to trying the oiled bowl next time, or else the one bowl/no shape technique described above. Haven't quite decided which one.

My father, who has been making this with white flour, says he got better results with a little extra water than with less water--better rise. His best loaf was proofed warm with a water bath, given an overnight retard in the fridge in the middle of the first long rise, shaped and risen in an oiled bowl, covered, and baked in a preheated cloche.

I've also made this with my niece (9) and nephew (7) over thanksgiving, and the only problem was finding a way to split the labor so that they each got to do part of it.

Has anyone tried adding fats to the dough? Or did I miss that in my headlong rush through 11 pages of posts?

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I just mixed up the dough with 1/3 King Arthur white whole wheat and 2/3 All Purpose, plus 4 ounces sourdough starter for flavor and the usual 1/4 tsp yeast. Will post results tomorrow.

Also Rose Levy Beranbaum is blogging on the recipe. See her version and posts at her blog.

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Thanks for that RLB link, Fromartz. Here's what I don't get, though. She says she is getting a thin, crisp crust, and indeed, that's how her picture looks. But without reading all of the 11 pages again, I actually don't remember anyone here mentioning getting a thin crisp crust. I know I get a chewy, crunchy crust, and it seems like most people have been.

She's using more yeast, and she doesn't actually say she made it in a hot pot, right? Rather, that she'll stick to other baking techniques, correct? Could that account for it? I'm a little mystified about this.

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Thanks for that RLB link, Fromartz.  Here's what I don't get, though.  She says she is getting a thin, crisp crust, and indeed, that's how her picture looks.  But without reading all of the 11 pages again, I actually don't remember anyone here mentioning getting a thin crisp crust.  I know I get a chewy, crunchy crust, and it seems like most people have been.

My first loaf, with only white flour and 72% hydration, had a thin, crisp crust and a non-soggy crumb when it was 208F inside. My subsequent loaves, with different flours and higher hydrations, had thicker crusts. My daughter's favorite was the 50% whole wheat, accidentally 100% hydration, accidentally bulk-fermented for 48 hours--it had the thickest crust, and she liked it.

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Thanks for that RLB link, Fromartz.  Here's what I don't get, though.  She says she is getting a thin, crisp crust, and indeed, that's how her picture looks.  But without reading all of the 11 pages again, I actually don't remember anyone here mentioning getting a thin crisp crust.  I know I get a chewy, crunchy crust, and it seems like most people have been.

She's using more yeast, and she doesn't actually say she made it in a hot pot, right?  Rather, that she'll stick to other baking techniques, correct?  Could that account for it?  I'm a little mystified about this.

I got a pretty crisp crust by removing the lid after 15 minutes at 480 F and let letting it bake for another 20-25 minutes. RLB mentions she's using some pot that injects steam - hey, I'd love to try that too but don't know what it is.

My last experiment, 4 ounces of starter with the usual recipe did not work. I did a 12 hour rise, shape, 3 hour rise, and the life went out of the thing. Very little oven spring, ie, it over-proofed. I think that is a common symptom here with failures. The recipe seems to work in the original but once you start messin' with it it starts messin' with you. But I'm determined to make it with more flavor and equal ease.

Finally, there's 127 pictures tagged "no-knead" on Flickr with successes and evident failures as well.

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Forgot to mention in previous that I used the parchment paper technique. It did not work for me. The paper got too moist from the dough and when I baked it all in the pot, the paper stuck to the bottom of the bread - so I used a knife to try and get it off. Was a mess.

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My daughter's favorite was the 50% whole wheat, accidentally 100% hydration, accidentally bulk-fermented for 48 hours--it had the thickest crust, and she liked it.

beccaboo, I just love this post!

:biggrin:

Anne

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to Fromartz:

So sorry the parchment paper technique didn't work for you. But I notice from the posts on this thread that people are mixing up doughs of different wetnesses, probably because they measure flour differently. Also, there can be significant differences in flours by region and by brand, and certain flours will simply absorb more water.

When I baked with the parchment paper lining, the paper showed crinkles from moisture, but the bottom of my loaf was golden and caramelized, and came right off the paper. It sounds like the bottom of your loaf never dried and set, because once that happens the loaf should come right off the parchment paper.

Alas, these things happen. Once in a cooking class someone said that he couldn't think of any disasters he'd had in cooking. Another person replied to him, "Well, you're not cooking enough."

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Instead of a dutch oven, has anyone tried just doing this on a baking stone and covering with some kind of dome? Seems like you could use an upside-down dutch oven for this, or a big stainless or stoneware mixing bowl, or one of those domes caterers use to cover roasts.

Any thoughts? seems like it would be easier than dropping dough into a pot. Maybe you'd have to preheat whatever you're using for the dome, especially if it's heavy.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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Thanks for that RLB link, Fromartz.  Here's what I don't get, though.  She says she is getting a thin, crisp crust, and indeed, that's how her picture looks.  But without reading all of the 11 pages again, I actually don't remember anyone here mentioning getting a thin crisp crust.  I know I get a chewy, crunchy crust, and it seems like most people have been.

She's using more yeast, and she doesn't actually say she made it in a hot pot, right?  Rather, that she'll stick to other baking techniques, correct?  Could that account for it?  I'm a little mystified about this.

I'd describe my crust as relatively thin and crisp, but I only kept the lid on for 20 minutes.

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Thanks for the advice! I've been leaving the lid on for the prescribed 30 minutes. Next time I'll try in the 15-20 minute range and see if that gets the crust to lighten up. I am using a cloche, which bakes a bit differently, but the same principle would seem to apply with this.

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Second attempt at parchment worked fine - I used a slightly heavier paper.

Made the loaf with 4 ounces starter, 1 cup whole wheat flour 2 cups all purpose, and the usual 1/4 tsp yeast and 2 tsp salt. I did a first rise of 12 hours and a second of 90 minutes. I got oven spring. This was a success with very good flavor. With my previous version, it overproofed - rose too long - but this rise was just about right.

Also take note, Nancy Silverton in Breads from La Brea Bakery writes: "I have found most breads in this book will measure 210 degrees F when fully baked. (Denser loaves - walnut, fruit and nut, and multigrain - will measure less than 200 degrees F)."

This is from her note on making white sourdough. It seems to confirm findings here on baking temp. The problem with cooking at a consistenly high temp (475 or higher) is that you can't get to 210 in a boule without burning the top. (You can with a baguette - in fact, higher temp is preferable with a baguette I've found).

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Instead of a dutch oven, has anyone tried just doing this on a baking stone and covering with some kind of dome? Seems like you could use an upside-down dutch oven for this, or a big stainless or stoneware mixing bowl, or one of those domes caterers use to cover roasts.

Any thoughts? seems like it would be easier than dropping dough into a pot. Maybe you'd have to preheat whatever you're using for the dome, especially if it's heavy.

I can't imagine why this wouldn't work just fine. From all the posts here and elsewhere (and my experience with enameled cast iron, cast iron, tin, and ceramic), it seems that what pan you use has fairly little effect.

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

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I've done probably ten loaves now, mostly just following the recipe with small variations (like not folding, but stirring instead) to experiment. And I've read zillions of posts here and elsewhere. Some observations and questions:

I think the oven spring is one key to this being as good as it can be. The volcano effect cracks up the top and makes for many more crunchies. A couple of my batches haven't done that, resulting in a smooth domed top which wasn't nearly as good.

On my next batch I'm going to try messing up the the top with a knife some after it goes in the pot, to contribute to this crackly-top effect.

I *think* that a slightly dryer dough contributes to this volcano effect. But it may be that the drier dough simply means that it's possible for me to fold it more effectively (I do it in the bowl with a spoon rather than messing up the board and a towel), as opposed to basically stirring it down with wetter stuff, which folding maybe creates some tension contributing to spring. But I'm not convinced.

In any case, people seem to be having more luck with the drier (1.5 cups water) dough recommended in the video, as opposed to the 1-5/8 in the recipe. I agree. Also when I've sprinkled/incorporated extra flour during folding, I've had better results, so I'm going to try simply using a drier dough to begin with. (I don't mess with hydration or weights; I just go by my sense of texture, which probably measures the same thing pretty closely.)

I've seen nobody who has been happy with the 500 degrees recommended in the video (burnt bottoms). Use 450, works great every time.

Reports, please: are those who aren't bothering with the whole fold-and-towel shenanigans--i.e., just dumping the bread into the hot pan straight from the bowl after the second rising--having as much success as I am? (Abra, you promised to try this method...) Anybody tried a direct head-to-head test with a double batch? Does folding actually do anything, or is it (as I suspect) just the extra flour that gets incorporated in the process which makes it better?

I tried two teaspoons table salt. Too salty. Stick to 1.5.

I've had two different loaves stick quite badly--one in cast iron, one in a ceramic souffle dish. (Again, this may be because the dough's too wet, which is what djyee100 surmised on the parchment failure.) So I give the pan a quick aerosol spray of oil before putting the dough in the pan. Seems to have no effect except preventing sticking.

My housekeeper said she made rolls with this recipe for thanksgiving, but added butter, sugar, and a little milk. (Not measured, just added, with flour adjusted a bit.) Dropped dollops into muffin tins, used aluminum foil for the cover. She said they came out great, really crunchy, folks loved them.

I tried it in tin loaf pans cause I wanted that shape, also using aluminum foil to cover. Worked well, though I divvied the recipe into two so it would fit, and the loaves were rather flat. Didn't get much oven spring so I think this would have worked better if I'd had drier dough.

I currently have a batch going that's a variation on Abra's roast garlic loaf. On its second rise now. I'll report soon.

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

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If you want to use cloth to move your dough around, linen, such as that used for a baker's couche, is the best natural non-stick cloth and it holds the flour well. You can buy it in various widths from this place.

You can also make your own waxed muslin, using the heavy weight unbleached muslin found at most yardage stores.

You have to wash it twice to get all the sizing out - I generally run it through the second wash without any soap (and certainly no fabric softeners) then put it into the dryer just long enough to fluff it up.

I then tack or staple it to stretcher bars (that are used for artist's canvas) and let it dry. It will shirnk as it dries and will be quite taut.

You will need a chunk of pure beeswax, which is not difficult to find nowadays as there are candle-making shops just about everywhere - you can also find it in hobby shops, quilting and needlework shops, etc.

Rub the beeswax firmly into the cloth, trying to cover every inch.

When finished, lay the framed cloth face down on another piece of muslin and iron it with a fairly warm iron, pressing firmly, so that the beeswax melts into the weave of the cloth.

Check for bare spots, rub the beeswax into those spots and iron it again. It doesn't have to be 100% solid because you aren't going for waterproof, only to keep dough from sticking.

Flour it well and give it a try.

When you are finished, shake off the loose flour and allow it to dry completely and any residual bits of dough will dry and flake off.

Do not wash it!

Roll it up in plastic wrap or fold it and put it in a plastic bag and store it in your freezer. When ready for your next batch of dough, remove it from the freezer an hour or so before you will need it and allow it to warm to room temp.

Beeswax is naturally antibacterial and antiseptic.

"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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