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Minimalist No-Knead Bread Technique (Part 1)


cdh
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So you didn't even bake it???

Wet doughs may be messy and tricky to work with, but they can make very good bread. Still, many (including me) have dropped the water measure to 1.5 cups (to the 3 cups flour). And I don't use a floured towel underneath the dough (for 2nd rise) anymore: I use a flexible cutting board, flour the top, and cover it with the towel. When its ready for the dutch oven, I just take off the towel, pick up the cutting board, and flip it into the oven.

Also: for folding, I use a dough blade to scoop it over itself.

Overall, there's really very little handling involved.

Tips, if you don't know them already: make sure your hands are well-floured when you do handle the dough and use your fingertips when you can, not your whole hand (especially when dumping the dough out of the bowl after first rise). And a "well-floured surfaces" means a well-floured surface.

I've worked with wed doughs ... this was ridiculous. it was like glue. flour was helpless against its wrath. i thought it was trying to kill me.

I'm definitely going to try this again, with a bit less water.

is there any chance the cold temperatures in my house played a part in this? the yeast seemed pretty active after 24 hours so i figured things were going ok until i tried to fold it.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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I've worked with wed doughs ... this was ridiculous. it was like glue. flour was helpless against its wrath. i thought it was trying to kill me.

OK, we accept your plea of self-defense.

Yes, we accept it, but still bake it anyway if it happens again. How else will you learn? I had a loaf in the oven while I was replying to your first post this afternoon. It was overproofed and I knew it wouldn't be great, but it turned out to be not so bad. It'll be great for toast in the morning, for sure.

~ Lori in PA

My blog: http://inmykitcheninmylife.blogspot.com/

My egullet blog: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=89647&hl=

"Cooking is not a chore, it is a joy."

- Julia Child

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Mark Bittman is revisting the no-knead technique in today's NYT in an article entitled No Kneading, but Some Fine-Tuning. It addresses many, if not all, of the issues we've discussed in this forum!

Thanks again, Mark and Jim.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

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When the dough is really moist (like glue): Wet your hands or wet the dough cutting tool you use with cold water. Or just add some flour when you are pouring it out, but if you do, let the second rise take at least two hours so the flour gets absorbed.

Or just pour the wet dough into a pan. Let it rise. Bake it. It will come out like foccacio. Another trick - as Bittman mentions today - is to let it rise on a silpat and then just put the silpat in the oven. I may try this and invert an oven proof bowl over the dough/silpat. (Getting the hot bowl off the siltpat may be tricky).

A cool rising temp will affect timing, but I think at the length we're talking - 12-18 hours - there won't be a huge difference between 65 and 70 degrees.

Also, rising can be affected by the age of the flour. Use FRESH flour from the store. People who don't bake sometimes have flour sitting around for years. Thow it out and buy some new stuff.

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Here's the link to the revised NYT article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/06/dining/0...html?ref=dining

Good summary of what's been going on with everyone experimenting with the bread.

I concur about the smaller pot size. I've been using a 2 3/4 qt. LC pot and it produces a nicely-shaped, tall loaf (top almost touches the underside of the lid). I'm letting mine rise 21 hours on the first go and I believe it's improved the flavor.

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I concur about the smaller pot size. I've been using a 2 3/4 qt. LC pot and it produces a nicely-shaped, tall loaf (top almost touches the underside of the lid). I'm letting mine rise 21 hours on the first go and I believe it's improved the flavor.

I went nuts trying to find a 7 quart cast iron Dutch oven, as per the 6-8 quart recommendation in the article. After the first batch, I realized it was much too big and picked up one of the easily-available 5-quart ones I'd passed by time after time while looking for the 7-quart. I wouldn't go bigger than the 5.

Finally saw the video--there's NO WAY Jim Lahey was using something between 6 and 8 quarts; I'm not sure his were even 5.

Edited by Scott_R (log)
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the dough was so slack, so sticky, so disgusting, that i felt like i was in a grade B sci-fi horror movie. it was unhandleable.

Nice image! Exactly what I experienced.

VSS (Very Simple Solution): Don't Handle It.

I'm going to just keep banging my spoon on the highchair here even if nobody's listening.

This is NO-KNEAD bread. That means that there's NO need to knead. Let me repeat. No knead (need). (Mr. Bittman definitely picked up on several the best tips here, but not that one. Why are people clinging to this?)

Just stir the stuff down after the first rising. (Leave the wooden spoon in the bowl so you don't have to clean it more than once.) After the second rising, dump it into the hot pan.

The folding and handling *makes no difference.*

Soak the bowl and spoon for a bit, and cleanup is almost nonexistent. Wipe out your cast iron with an oiled paper towel.

To test my theory that the folding doesn't do anything, but rather it's the extra flour that gets incorporated in the process that does make a difference, I tried a drier dough--only about 1.25 cups of water. It took a very long time to rise as much as I am used to. After 12 hours (lightbulb-heated oven), still not expanded much. After 21, looked pretty good. Stirred it down, gave it 2+ hours, dumped it in the pan.

I figured that even with a drier dough, it was going to be 100% humidity inside that pot, but I kind of chickened out and poured a bit of water--couple of tablespoons maybe--over the loaf before putting the lid on. (Didn't have a sprayer, but thanks to the poster who suggested this.) It seems to have caused actual thin flakiness on the outside of the crust, and maybe a more delicate crust overall, which is another thing folks have been after.

It came out wonderfully. I think it's crumbier inside than with a wetter dough--less elastic and gummy--which is one thing we've all been wanting, I think.

Moral: hydration percentage is not much of an issue, as long as it's not too wet. (Which means that weighing is just a waste of energy. Did you see that one person on this thread suggested the need to *weigh the water*? I won't bother to explain why I used asterisks there...)

I didn't get as much spring/volcano effect (maybe due to random batch variation?), but the firmness of the drier dough gave more humps and ridges on top to create crustiness, so the same result. Forgot to mess with the top using a knife this time before baking, but last time I did and it definitely helped with the crunchies.

I've tried minimizing even further, BTW, by not doing the second rise, but that's too far even for me--resulted in a pretty dense loaf.

Okay, I'm now reverting to entertaining myself by smooshing my gerber strained beets around on the highchair tray...

Steve

Edited by SparrowsFall (log)

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

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Can someone explain the rationale in the original recipe for flipping the dough upside-down in the pot before cooking? I thought the point a rounding a loaf and stretching the exposed top surface was to help trap the gasses relased by the yeast, and therefore increase oven spring. When you flip it over into the pot, it seems that you are deflating the loaf and negating the point of rounding the dough in the first place.

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Can someone explain the rationale in the original recipe for flipping the dough upside-down in the pot before cooking? I thought the  point a rounding a loaf and stretching the exposed top surface was to help trap the gasses relased by the yeast, and therefore increase oven spring. When you flip it over into the pot, it seems that you are deflating the loaf and negating the point of rounding the dough in the first place.

I think it is to relieve you of the step of scoring the dough, as the folded edges create a vent. In my experience they do.

The guy that owns the Sullivan Street Bakery just sort of dumps and jiggles to make sure the dough is mostly centered n the pot. He didn't seem incredibly concerned. I think the bread will create its own vent, but it is nice to have a fold to preordaine the venting of the stuff.

Minimalist.

I think.

:biggrin:

Edited by annecros (log)
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the dough was so slack, so sticky, so disgusting, that i felt like i was in a grade B sci-fi horror movie. it was unhandleable.

This is NO-KNEAD bread. That means that there's NO need to knead. Let me repeat. No knead (need). (Mr. Bittman definitely picked up on several the best tips here, but not that one. Why are people clinging to this?)

Steve

Well, I can only speak for myself here, but I cling to it because it's the only tactile part of the whole recipe, and after you get the hang of it and can do it easily, it just feels so damned good to get your hands on that dough you've been staring at for 18 hours! Also, once you've plopped it out and folded it a couple of times, it looks all round and pretty, and you can give it a little pat of encouragement before you cover it up again.

Is it clear to everyone by now that I've gotten COMPLETELY carried away by this recipe? My family thinks I'm crazy. But they sure do like the bread.

I was interested to read in Bittman's article this a.m. that he's extending the second rise to three hours, which I kind of thought would overproof it. Anyone here doing that? Results?

Susan

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I was interested to read in Bittman's article this a.m. that he's extending the second rise to three hours, which I kind of thought would overproof it. Anyone here doing that? Results?

Susan

It all completely depends upon your conditions. Proofing is dependent upon that. As well, the better you are at shaping your bread after your turns, likely the longer it can proof (more or less). Just test the dough...if you poke a finger into it after two hours and it doesn't spring back right away (assuming you're a good shaper), then it's ready. If you're a lousy shaper, then better to get it into the oven after about two hours.

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So I am on my 3rd loaf. My second loaf was the same as the first except I cut back on the salt.

18oz KA bread flour

13oz H20

1.5t salt

.8g yeast cake

I tried to cook this one with a thermometer in it and I pulled the bread at 207, big mistake. The center was yeasty and gummy, not a great loaf.

Tonights batch is

14.4 oz KA Bread Flour (white)

1.8 oz Rye

1.8 oz Whole Wheat

1.5t salt

13oz water

.8g yeast cake.

I was unsure if I needed to bump up the water because of the additional wheat flour, I will find out soon enough though.

I plan on pulling aside some of the dough to keep as a starter from this batch as well. Results in ~20 hrs.

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

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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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Just a question... a good friend has celiac disease, and I've found a cookbook that has a wheat flour substitute, made out of a combination of several non-wheat flours.  Would anybody venture a guess as to whether that mixture would work with this method? I'll probably try it anyway, but if I can head off potential problems first, that would help.

Did you try this? And did it work? I've got a friend who can't have wheat either, and I'd LOVE to be able to make him a loaf of bread.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Just a question... a good friend has celiac disease, and I've found a cookbook that has a wheat flour substitute, made out of a combination of several non-wheat flours.  Would anybody venture a guess as to whether that mixture would work with this method? I'll probably try it anyway, but if I can head off potential problems first, that would help.

Missed this question first time around, but....

Not speaking definitively, but I don't think it'll work. The no-knead technique substitutes time for kneading to develop the gluten. Celiac-OK breads don't have gluten that needs development--they use other "stiffeners" like xanthum gum and the like. I don't think it would even develop any additional flavor, or not to a significant degree.

As such, though yeast-based GF breads do need rising time, there's no point in letting them sit around for eighteen hours--they just need to rise until doubled, then baked.

My sister and my niece both have celiac-sprue, so I've had my share of experience making GF breads. It's more chemistry then artistry. :)

Edited by Scott_R (log)
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I just baked my first loaf without using any additional yeast - just the "old dough" that I had pulled off a previous batch, fed and refrigerated for 2 days...I seem to have gotten into a rhythm of baking a bread every other day now.

1.6 oz rye flour

1 oz w/w flour

13.4 oz KA bread flour

4 - 6 oz old dough - (didn't weigh)

13 oz. water

2.5 tsp. salt

First rise - 14 hours...dumped, folded, rested 15 minutes, shaped and proofed 2.5 hours.

Into dutch oven, slashed and sprayed, then 25 minutes covered at 450 - 30 minutes minutes uncovered at 450. This loaf could have gone another 5 minutes, but that's for number 10. There was definitely a nicer quality to this bread, both in crust and crumb...great flavor as well, with just a hint of the sourness that comes from the starter.

Couldn't put my finger on it till I pulled something out of my freezer - a pain Poilane purchased just a couple of weeks ago.

gallery_6902_3887_1056891.jpg

Ahhhh, i t's nice to dream, but there's only one Poilane. And mine's the one on top.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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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Missed this question first time around, but....

Not speaking definitively, but I don't think it'll work. The no-knead technique substitutes time for kneading to develop the gluten. Celiac-OK breads don't have gluten that needs development--they use other "stiffeners" like xanthum gum and the like. I don't think it would even develop any additional flavor, or not to a significant degree.

As such, though yeast-based GF breads do need rising time, there's no point in letting them sit around for eighteen hours--they just need to rise until doubled, then baked.

My sister and my niece both have celiac-sprue, so I've had my share of experience making GF breads. It's more chemistry then artistry. :)

Do you think the baking technique (in the closed hot pot) would have the same crust improving qualities in a GF bread? And if you have any good GF bread recipes to share, can you PM me? Thanks.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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Just a question... a good friend has celiac disease, and I've found a cookbook that has a wheat flour substitute, made out of a combination of several non-wheat flours.  Would anybody venture a guess as to whether that mixture would work with this method? I'll probably try it anyway, but if I can head off potential problems first, that would help.

Missed this question first time around, but....

Not speaking definitively, but I don't think it'll work. The no-knead technique substitutes time for kneading to develop the gluten. Celiac-OK breads don't have gluten that needs development--they use other "stiffeners" like xanthum gum and the like. I don't think it would even develop any additional flavor, or not to a significant degree.

As such, though yeast-based GF breads do need rising time, there's no point in letting them sit around for eighteen hours--they just need to rise until doubled, then baked.

My sister and my niece both have celiac-sprue, so I've had my share of experience making GF breads. It's more chemistry then artistry. :)

I haven't tried this yet, but I'll probably play around with it using a GF flour. My friend isn't much of a cook, and if the recipe is too involved, she won't mess with it. If I could get something like this to work for her, that would be great.

I've also found out that her problem is not a severe one. She can tolerate a little gluten. And by the way, the gastrointerologist she spoke with last week, predicts that within 10 years, the world will have changed significantly for people with celiac disease. He predicts a pill will soon come out, and also that technology will help people create much better GF products. I hope he's right!

Scott, if you have any good bread or pizza crust recipes that an "average" (= non-obsessed) home baker could do, I'd love to have them. But that's another thread.

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Do you think the baking technique (in the closed hot pot) would have the same crust improving qualities in a GF bread?  And if you have any good GF bread recipes to share, can you PM me?  Thanks.

Trying different recipes, I think the mixes are the best bet--GF breads are chemistry, not artistry. Still, I'd like to try one such mix with the cast-iron dutch oven... of course, being meticulous to make sure it's clean first. Worst comes to worst, I waste a mix.

However, I don't have much confidence for the experiment, for many reasons: you're supposed to proof the GF bread in the pan you bake it in (I don't think the gluten-less structure is strong enough to stand being poured from one thing to another), which eliminates pre-heating the cast iron. Also, the GF batters are way looser than this recipe, even when made with the 1-5/8 cup water; I suspect that covering it might make it gooey. And whatever it is that creates the GF crust seems rather development than regular bread crust formation.

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weinoo - that is one beautiful bread you baked - it's one of the best looking on the thread, and I like the looser crumb than the poilane bread (which I haven't yet had the pleasure of trying).

You basically used a levain technique - building up a bit of dough and using that in the final one as the yeast source.

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FWIW, I just posted a quick "preview" of Target's ChefMate cast iron dutch ovens -- if some of you are looking for a cheap alternative in enameled cast iron cookware, this is it!

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...dpost&p=1321459

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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