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Minimalist No-Knead Bread Technique (Part 1)


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I've folded all my loaves, so I can't speak to the action motion or the additional flour incoporation. I can agree that slightly drier is better. Like Sparrowsfall, after the first loaf I stopped measuring the liquid except for the initial cup and just go for the shaggy ball effect when doing the initial mix. As I am experimenting with different flours, this seems to make sense.

I've done two rye loaves. The first was 1 part rye flour, 1/2 part spelt, and 1 and 1/2 part bread flour. Very nice, but not enough flavor to make it a decent rye. Still got eaten with butter.

Next rye loaf, and I knew it would be this way but hubby was making "helpful" suggestions, I went with 1 and 1/2 parts rye, 1/2 part spelt, and one part bread flour. WAY to dense. We took out the electric knife to slice! One of those successful failure things though, in that it was better than some deli rye I have eaten as far as flavor is concerned. I did set back an egg sized portion of dough in a crock in the fridge from this one.

Today's mix will be closer to the proportions in the first loaf, with the leftover dough incorporated. Will report back tomorrow, when I am planning beer brats, kraut and salt potatoes for dinner.

I've only used enamel on cast iron or cast iron, but never had a stick. I did have one loaf stick to the towel once, but have made about a dozen so far. Probably because I adjust the hydration by eye and feel, and managed to get that one a little wet. The only difference in the pot was that the cast iron browned on the bottom faster. 20 minutes with the lid on does result in a thinner crust for me, but not as much crackle. Seems like I remember a salt water wash on the loaf when it goes in results in an almost crazed type of finish. Will have to research that and maybe have a go with it. Of the two, I prefer working with the cast iron on enamel.

Am looking forward to Christmas when I have an excuse to crack out more variations, as there will be more bread consumers around. Hubby loves bread, but with just him and me I don't want to overbake.

Anne

Edited by annecros (log)
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Yesterday I made this dough as I described above, with 20% semolina, but I made it into roasted garlic bread.

I'll meet your roasted garlic and raise you some bacon. In keeping with the life-mantra that bacon makes everything better, I fried some up, chopped it, and added it along with the garlic during the fold after the first rise. Ended up having to get in there squishing with my fingers to mix it in. Next time I think I'll just toss it in at the beginning instead, before ading the water--much easier to get it mixed through uniformly, and I think the flavors would imbue the bread very nicely.

I used the braised garlic from Bittman's other life-changing article [restricted access: http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricte...DA00894DD404482]. (Ultimate minimalist rendition of said article: simmer peeled garlic cloves in olive oil for 40 minutes.)

I used a couple or three strips of bacon (part sprinkled on top before baking), and the flavor doesn't actually doesn't come through much at all. I think I'll use A Great Deal More next time.

But it's yummy and beautiful.

gallery_6340_3969_26250.jpg

gallery_6340_3969_231368.jpg

Edited by SparrowsFall (log)

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

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Sparrowsfall, that's inspired! I didn't mix the garlic into the dough because a) I wanted the cloves to remain intact and they were very soft, and b) I didn't want any on the outside of the loaf where they could burn. But I have a bunch of home-cured bacon on hand right now, and that would be a great use for some of it. I think you need to get a slab and cut it into lardons or a large dice, to get more flavor into each bite.

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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.

SparrowsFall,

Those rolls sound scrumptious. I want to try making them. Do you know if your housekeeper preheated the muffin tin? Or just used a greased muffin tin at room temperature?

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I didn't mix the garlic into the dough because a) I wanted the cloves to remain intact and they were very soft, and b) I didn't want any on the outside of the loaf where they could burn. 

Actually, that's the other reason I thought of putting them in early--once the gluten's developed it's hard to work them in without smushing them. On the initial mixing, if you use a folding-like motion I think you could get full mixing without smushing.

I had three or four cloves on the outside. A couple touching the pan were burnt but easy to pull off. Ones on top were beautifully filling-pullingly chewy.

Don't do the bacon on top, btw. It just falls off (even though I patted it in some), which leaves all sorts of valuable bacon on the cutting board instead of in your mouth where it belongs. And it makes you worry (with reason) about the bacon burning, so you might pull out the bread before you would otherwise.

I used probably 30 cloves of garlic, and felt like it could use a bit more. A little sparse on the ground for us garlic lovers...

Steve

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

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Well, after a week off on the west coast, I'm back to baking - can't seem to stay away from this recipe/topic.

A couple of observations:

My breads are both appearing and tasting better and better.

I'm using a 4 quart enameled cast-iron dutch oven from Belgium...baking at 450, covered, for 25 minutes, then uncovered 20 - 25 minutes more till the crust is nicely browned. The last two loaves I've water sprayed the dough after plopping it into the dutch oven...this has made the crust even crispier.

Haven't had any problem with dough sticking since I moved to rice flour on my cloth - I am rising in a banneton, covered with a cotton towel that is then floured with the rice flour before setting the dough in.

I have started saving a piece of old dough - around 3-4 oz....I feed it with a couple of tablespoons of flour and water and then it goes into the fridge. Bring it out an hour or two before mixing my next dough. then I dissolve it in the water for the next batch...it seems to have added a nice boost to the flavor...haven't eschewed commercial yeast yet, but may try to decrease it to 1/8 tsp. and see how that works. First rise is between 12 - 14 hours, and second is generally just 2 hours.

I've switched to King Arthur Bread and A/P flours...makes a big difference, imo, though I have to travel much farther to buy these!

The bread lasts for 2 -3 days on the counter, cut side down, covered with a kitchen towel - toasts up beautifully.

This latest bread has 5% whole wheat and 5 % organic rye - the rest is KA bread flour. Flavor and crust are both very, very good. Here are a couple of shots - I slashed this loaf slightly after placing in dutch oven:

gallery_6902_3887_2087.jpg

And the interior:

gallery_6902_3887_39522.jpg

A shout out to Bittman and Lehay for what appears to be the start of bringing bread-baking to the masses!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

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A while back upthread, someone was wondering if a Pyrex bowl would be safe to use...I dunnit, and it was fine. I overturned my loaf from its oiled bowl onto a circle of parchment paper that I had just gently laid on top of my very hot clay saucer, then clapped my biggest Pyrex bowl over the top. The bowl was hot too, it was a little inconvenient to handle but with a big fish slice, it wasn't really hard to remove from the saucer. The same fish slice removed the hot bowl for the last part of the bake.

Nothing broke and the bread was good.

Now, I think I could make a tongue-twister out of "oiled bowl." Let's see: "Oy, a boiling old oiled bowl." Three times, quickly. :biggrin:

Miriam

Miriam Kresh

blog:[blog=www.israelikitchen.com][/blog]

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Tammy, if you leave it for 18 hours, it will be ready. And if you stick to the amount of yeast specified, it won't be over-ready. Once I let it rise only 14 hours, just because of poor planning, and the results were good, but that didn't convince me to shorten the rise in general. 18 hours seems to work perfectly.

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Tammy, little bubbles should blanket the surface of the dough at the end of the first rise. Watch the video if it's still accessible.

With 100% unbleached A/P or bread flour, I think the dough is more forgiving of long durations, but less co-operative with a high percentage of heavier flours. I'd err on the side of conservative time periods during initial attempt(s). Don't wait too long.

The loaf will probably still thrill after over-proofing, but it will be extremely runny when poured on the counter, suck up a lot of the flour that you use for dusting while preparing it for the second rise, and will not spring very high in the oven.

* * *

For my second try, I decided to bake a larger loaf, maintaining the same amount of bread flour, yeast and water as specified in the original recipe, but increasing the size by 50% with 1 1/2 cups of WW flour, and so on. I used 1 T of sea salt and an additional 1/3 c of water to reproduce the texture I recalled of the dough I mixed when following the published recipe. This was destined for a 4-quart enameled Dutch oven. (#26 inside French lid.)

I wish I had started this dough after Sam Fromartz's most recent report. Next time I will aim for:

a) a 12-hour rise

rather than the long time I left the dough while out running errands. It over-proofed in a hot kitchen (77 F) and ended up with concrete boots when trying to spring in the oven. (Abra gives different advice in answering Tammy, but I need to see how I feel about a 12-15 hour rise.)

b) less water.

Even though WW flour absorbs water rapidly, it would be better were I to cut back the amount. The soggy dough slurped down an additional cup or two of wheat bran, some flour and corn meal while resting on the counter and being "shaped" into a loaf. No need to discuss what happened to the waxed paper I naively put down on the counter and floured for the 15-minute rest.

c) 475 F

I tried using a slower oven (450) and it took forever to creep from an internal temperature of 203 to 204 to 206 dark bottom crust to 206 darker to 206 too dark on the bottom, enough already.

The new steps I plan to retain:

a) WW flour and bran

More flavor. Nice crumb even despite lack of height.

b) Lid off after 20-25 minutes for perfect top crust, not too thick

c) checking the internal temperature as per Abra's advice

d) using buttered bowl instead of floured towel

I used a squat Depression glass salad bowl so that the dough rose slightly over the top and there wasn't a long drop into the hot pan. Next time I may dust bottom of Dutch oven with wheat bran before upsiding bowl, but otherwise all was well. For a second it looked as if I might have a disastrous sticking problem, but when lid was lifted, all dough had shrunk from sides.

e) removing loaf from pot during last minutes

While the practice used to brown traditional loaves isn't necessary, it does prevent the bottom crust from scorching. I'd like to experiment with shorter durations in the pot since my jaw's getting tired.

f) lots of salt

I kept a little dough scraped from waxed paper. Left it on counter overnight by accident. It's now fed and in fridge.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Tammy, little bubbles should blanket the surface of the dough at the end of the first rise.  Watch the video if it's still accessible.

With 100% unbleached A/P or bread flour, I think the dough is more forgiving of long durations, but less co-operative with a high percentage of heavier flours.  I'd err on the side of conservative time periods during initial attempt(s).  Don't wait too long. 

The loaf will probably still thrill after over-proofing, but it will be extremely runny when poured on the counter, suck up a lot of the flour that you use for dusting while preparing it for the second rise, and will not spring very high in the oven.

Yeah, the reason I asked is that I'm pretty sure my first loaf, with a full 18 hour rise, got overproofed. It was very wet and I got no oven spring at all.

I had bubbles all across the surface after only about 12 hours, but I waited for about 15 before doing the fold, then two more. It's in the oven now, and I just peeked at 20 minutes to see if I should take the lid off yet (5 more minutes, I think). Beautiful oven spring this time - I'm really excited to try this loaf. I used Abra's recipe for the larger loaf with 20% semolina.

Edited by tammylc (log)

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Well, after a week off on the west coast, I'm back to baking - can't seem to stay away from this recipe/topic.

A couple of observations:

My breads are  both appearing and tasting better and better.

I'm using a 4 quart enameled cast-iron dutch oven from Belgium...baking at 450, covered, for 25 minutes, then uncovered 20 - 25 minutes more till the crust is nicely browned.  The last two loaves I've water sprayed the dough after plopping it into the dutch oven...this has made the crust even crispier.

Haven't had any problem with dough sticking since I moved to rice flour on my cloth - I am rising in a banneton, covered with a cotton towel that is then floured with the rice flour before setting the dough in.

I have started saving a piece of old dough - around 3-4 oz....I feed it with a couple of tablespoons of flour and water and then it goes into the fridge. Bring it out an hour or two before mixing my next dough. then I dissolve it in the water for the next batch...it seems to have added a nice boost to the flavor...haven't eschewed commercial yeast yet, but may try to decrease it to 1/8 tsp. and see how that works.  First rise is between 12 - 14 hours, and second is generally just 2 hours.

I've switched to King Arthur Bread and A/P flours...makes a big difference, imo, though I have to travel much farther to buy these!

The bread lasts for 2 -3 days on the counter, cut side down, covered with a kitchen towel - toasts up beautifully.

This latest bread has 5% whole wheat and 5 % organic rye - the rest is KA bread flour.  Flavor and crust are both very, very good. Here are a couple of shots - I slashed this loaf slightly after placing in dutch oven:

gallery_6902_3887_2087.jpg

And the interior:

gallery_6902_3887_39522.jpg

A shout out to Bittman and Lehay for what appears to be the start of bringing bread-baking to the masses!

I second that shout out. I haven't baked bread in years. Now I have my third loaf in 2 weeks in the oven. This was the wettest dough yet so I'm curiuos about the differance it will make. I really like this idea of saving some dough back and putting it in with the water. What a great reason to start loaf number 4

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Bread just came out of the oven. Baked it in a Le Creuset 5 qt at 450. No damage to the lid and no sticking (for those who were concerned). Smells wonderful, love the crackling sound as it cools. Easiest bread I've ever made.

Photo taken with cell phone so not as professional looking as everyone else's.

Will post again after I taste it.

gallery_40769_3972_69587.jpg

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Pontormo, do you think the bran might be affecting your oven spring? I remember reading long ago somewhere that bran flakes can sort of "cut" the gluten strands with its sharp little edges.

I have no experience with proofing this dough with whole wheat or any of the additions that might make it absorb more water, so that contributes to our different advice. And also, for sure there's a yeast difference. I'm using SAF Gold, which is formulated for long fermentation, so I suppose that it would take longer to overproof as well.

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Wow. Ok, all I can say is wow. I always hated making bread as everytime I have tried making it in the past the payoff has always been sub par and totally not worth all the effort. I decided to try this recipe mainly because it seemed too good to be true.

I used 18oz KA bread flour

13 oz water

2t kosher salt

1/2 t red star fresh yeast cake dissolved in 1T warm water.

Mixed, let sit 18 hours, folded, covered with a mixture of corn meal and rice flour, let sit 2 hrs. Baked 30 minutes covered 450 and then 30 minutes uncovered.

gallery_22527_2409_83216.jpg

gallery_22527_2409_486698.jpg

The bread had really good flavor, nice crumb, super crispy crust, overall I am super impressed with the results. Already have another batch ready to go tonight before heading to bed.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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Wow.  Ok, all I can say is wow.  I always hated making bread as everytime I have tried making it in the past the payoff has always been sub par and totally not worth all the effort.  I decided to try this recipe mainly because it seemed too good to be true.

gallery_22527_2409_83216.jpg

Yep. Wow. Amazing isn't it?

Lovely loaf of bread, and I so totally know how you felt when you looked upon it.

Wow.

You did a great job there. Qualifies for food porn - now where is my room temp butter?

Edited by annecros (log)
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Dinner Thread-style owws and ahhs, John, Weenie and other for recent posts, first.

Pontormo, do you think the bran might be affecting your oven spring?  I remember reading long ago somewhere that bran flakes can sort of "cut" the gluten strands with its sharp little edges.

I have no experience with proofing this dough with whole wheat or any of the additions that might make it absorb more water, so that contributes to our different advice.  And also, for sure there's a yeast difference.  I'm using SAF Gold, which is formulated for long fermentation, so I suppose that it would take longer to overproof as well.

Bran only added since it was sprinkled on counter after over-proofing. Interesting information, though, Abra. Thanks. I have to stop this 19 hour biz of an initial rise and I should be fine. Since I invested in supermarket brand Rapid Rise/Instant Yeast for the first time just for this recipe, I'm not prepared to track down or order a professional (?) type of yeast. I've got enough to keep me in this kind of loaf for a long, long time.

I am going to PM Sam Fromartz in a second to ask him to weigh in on the starter he used and reasons he's been cutting back on time for WW mixture. I have a copy of Bread Alone at home and no need to bake more than one loaf a week, so plenty of opportunity to follow the book's instructions and turn some of my WW flour into sourdough starter before Friday when this loaf is through. I'll simply go back to 3 cups of flour, total, 1 1/2 c of water, etc. and see what happens. I note that RLB uses only 8% whole meal for her loaves. We'll see.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I've made several loaves now...

In response to the request for reports from those not using the towel, here's mine: I used a towel only the first time. It's just too difficult for me to handle. I'm a klutz by nature, and I need the help of something more rigid. I just use my cutting board, and it's working great.

Most of my first rise times are around 20 hours, because that's what works with my schedule. I make the dough around 10 p.m., and I'm not home and ready to work on it until 6 p.m. the next evening. It's working just fine. :smile:

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Well, I'm on loaf #4 (first attempt described way above).

In short: loaf #1 was as per the printed recipe: 1-5/8 cup water and baked in a 7 quart Lodge Dutch oven I had a dickens of a time finding (printed recipe said 6-8 quart). Result: OK. Not as much oven spring as I'd like, and "gummier" inside than i think optimal. Probably cut into it too soon.

#2: dropped down to 1-1/2 cups water and picked up a much more easily available Lodge 5Q. 1.5 tsp salt. Nicer shape, inside less gummy, still wanted to work on it.

#3: almost the same steps as #2, but substituted about 1/3 cup whole wheat for an equal amount of the bread flour. Result had a more complex taste (no surprise) and the texture was nicer: though I added another splash of water (guess the WW soaked it up). Baked it to an internal temp of 207 degrees.

#4, just finished this evening. 1.5 cups of water, 2.5 cups bread flour, 0.5 cups semolina. 1.5 tsp salt. Cooked to 207-208 F and... inside still a little gummier than I'd really like. Could definitely have left it in for a little longer--bottom was almost about to burn but not in any real danger quite yet.

Though the smaller container definitely seems the way to go, I'm not getting as much oven spring as I'd like; I'll have to pay better attention to proofing. In all cases, it's 18 hours first rise, shape, then 2 hours and bake.

gallery_50065_3974_95669.jpg

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Scott~

how did you like the flavor of the semolina vs the whole wheat?

Ah, one more thing I meant to add: I'm going to drop back to 1.25 tsp salt; I find 1.5 too salty for my taste, and it interferes with my sensory enjoyment of the loaf--to be, when things taste salty, I'm not sure I can tell much else.

That said... don't know if it's exactly the flavor that made the difference, but so far, I liked the WW better. First, the saltiness seemed less apparent, and second, the loaf had less of the gumminess. Still, I've only cut a piece or two from the new loaf, so I'll have to give it more thought.

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Pontormo writes:

>just curious as to the reasons you: 1) are favoring shorter initial rises & 2) seem to be using

> starter a lot in new attempts. Flavor?

I think you need a shorter rise if you're using whole wheat. This may be due to the nature of whole wheat, which is often added to increase activity in fermentation (of starters). When you increase the activity, you risk burning up the yeast, so you need to reduce the fermentation time.

Here's a rule of thumb - Lahey calls for you to look for bubbles on the surface of the dough at the end of the first rise. Another method: make sure it has at least doubled. But don't let the dough collapse or go slack. When you begin to see a lot of wrinkles on the dough, as opposed to a kind of supported surface, you've probably proofed the dough too long. You will lose the oven spring.

As for adding sourdough, yes I'm doing that to improve the flavor - or at least to get closer to my idea of what a good-flavored bread should be.

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