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Minimalist No-Knead Bread Technique (Part 1)


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I've used 2 cups of bread flour and 1 cup of any of the following:

semolina flour

white whole wheat flour

rye meal

They all came out well - I was a little skeptical of the rye meal - basically a coarse grind of rye flour, but even that came out well. It wasn't as airy as the others, but the flavor was well developed and the texture wasn't too dense.

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I'm working with between 10 and 15% total whole wheat + rye flours, along with close to 1 T of kosher salt - oh, and a bit of "old dough" as well...tastes pretty good to me.

Got a nice lesson in sourdough from slkinsey the other day and am looking forward to be able to take this to a naturally fermented loaf for a change in the taste.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

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About the flour mess--

I've gotten into the habit of doing the second rise on a cutting board. Just before dumping the bread into the hot pan, I take the cutting board to the sink and use a brush or paper towel to brush away the excess flour from around the loaf.

I continue to be amazed at this recipe. Sometimes I pinch myself, because I just can't believe I can make bread like this, for such a small amount of effort. It's literally a dream come true. When I ran across this article, I had begun a systematic study of various bread machine recipes. Some were not too bad, and the convenience of the bread machine was great. Since discovering this recipe, the machine has sat unused, and I probably should put it away again.

I have a loaf in the oven right now, and the aroma is driving me nuts.

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Joe Blowe,

Thanks for the PM with Bittman's article. I knew there was someone in this forum who saved the revised copy, and you didn't disappoint. I'm determined to keep trying. With the long rise, I expected a flavor similar to a biga (i.e. ciabatta) or poolish-based bread. It wasn't happening, so I gave up.

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Just thought I'd jump in with my two cents...... I have baked several loaves using 2 3/4 cup cups of AP flour and a 1/4 cup of whole wheat. I use 2 Tbls of Isicha Starter from Sour Dough international. ( no instant yeast) 2 tsp of salt, 1 1/2 cups of water. I let it rise for about 18 hrs fold it like we are shown in the video and move it to a lined basket coated with rice flour. ( never had any problems with sticking.) I flip it on to my wooden peel with a little corn meal to help it slide off easier, slash the top, and bake it on my Pizza stone in a 425 F oven for 40-50 minutes. Before I put the bread in, I put a pan of water in the bottom of the oven ( letting a little spill onto the floor creating a cloud of steam)It produces a wonderful loaf of bread that my friends and family cannot get enough of.

p.s. I have also made some delicious Cranberry Walnut bread using this method that was absolutly scrumptious. Just toss a handful of dried cranberries and a cup of walnuts in at the beginning.

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Since the thread is incredibly long at this point I am going to summarize some of the feedback I've read thus far for selfish reasons and for the use of readers also new to this thread.

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Thanks for this. I'm still back at Page 8.

I made my first attempt at this bread last night. I went with a ziploc bag for around 12 hours, dumped it on the counter for the Lahey double fold, then a rest for 20-30 minutes. I used a 4qt Pyrex bowl with Pyrex lid at 500F for 30min covered, 15 min uncovered. Pyrex worked fine, and worst case was that I would be out $10 for another bowl. The bread had a better crust that I've experienced in my previous novice forays into breadmaking. I also got more holes that usual. The dough sang out of the oven. I'd post pictures, but it really does look a lot like most of the breads in the thread so far.

The main downside was a moist interior, which seems to be a trend for me with any bread. I did let it cool for around 1.5 hours, but that might not be enough. It was also pretty flavorless, but I blame the quick 12 hour rise for that.

I made a second batch last night that I'll be making this evening. I think I'll also try using a temp probe on bread for the first time tonight after I take the lid off (aiming for 210F from this thread).

I read a few times about people giving more time for a second rise after shaping. Sometimes as much as 2.5 hours. Would that improve the spring and overall height of the bread by a considerable amount? Also, what's the proper step for shaping - should I be waiting 15 minutes after I dump the dough on the floured countertop before I start shaping?

Kudos to the recipe and this thread for perking up my breadmaking interest again.

Nifty News & Decent Deals - where I'm always listing more kitchen stuff than average people want to see...
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I have to say that I still don't understand some of the "not enough flavor" complaints.  Complainers:  Are there other "flour, water, yeast and salt only" recipes you've used that you feel produce a more flavorful result?  I will say that most of us who are used to sourdough are likely to find commercial yeast doughs underflavored, but I don't gather that this is the main complaint.

I think you've hit the nail on the head here. When people complain about the flavor, they're not comparing apples to apples. Easy to do, since this looks like - and has the crust of - a fine artisanal loaf. But few if any of those are made using only commercial yeast rather than a starter of some sort.

Tammy,

I think YOU'VE hit the nail on the head, at least for me. It isn't the bread, it's my expectations.

My loaves have a great crust, but flavor-wise not what I expected. After the 1st loaf I did increase the salt. The next 3 loaves were made with my grandchildren, who love this bread, so we just used bread flour.

I am going to change up the flour, save some starter and take the bread for what it is. The recipe is too easy not to make. :cool:

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Yesterday I turned out my first loaf based on this technique and it was far better that I had expected. Due to VERY limited kitchen space (and when I say limited space, I really mean NO space at all) I have no proper oven. In stead, I have to make due with a fairly tiny microwave-oven combination that doesn't get any hotter than 230 deg. celcius. It will just about fit my romertopf so I decided to just have a go at it and see if it would work at all in my crappy setting.

I used a mixture of 2 parts plain flour and 1 part whole grain (about 450 grams total), roughly 2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp yeast, no starter or sourdough this time. I added water untill I felt the dough was the right sloppy but not battery consistency, I think it was about 75%.

Then I waited, folded without too much problems, waited a bit more and baked. No crackling crust but still nice and crunchy and the crumb was nice and open and moist, a bit chewy.

I do agree that doctoring the dough up a bit with some sourdough will improve the flavour, and possibily also the texture of the crumb. But on the whole, a great recipe, certainly if it can even be made without a proper over :biggrin:

(the only up side to a kitchen as small as mine is that there is not much surface to cover in flour when transfering the dought to the hot pot...)

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I finally figured out what is so GREAT about the original recipe and article. Yes, it certainly involved tweaking to get some more flavor out of it. And yes, it can be a bit messy, but even that can be conquered with a bit of play.

However, what astounds me most, is that I now bake bread 2, 3 or even 4 times a week...something I never did before. And even though I've started playing with sourdough and different flours, I'm BAKING BREAD! A lot. Because of the original article. Simply amazing.

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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Agreed! I'm getting more interested in experimenting, and even in making bread the old-fashioned way (although why I would do that is a mystery, since what I loved about this recipe is that I got better results for less work than my previous efforts).

Anyhow, this leads to my next question. I just started a batch, and would like to turn at least half of it into rolls to serve with soup tomorrow night. At what point should I divvy up the dough? Before the rest? Before the second rise? Would you (who know) use a pastry cutter, or just pull off pieces.

Thanks. No rush--I've got 18 hours to decide!

Susan

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Divide the dough for rolls before the second rise.Handle the dough gently trying not to deflate it

Ideally you should shape each one, but just cutting into roughly equal size chunks works just as well, gives good rustic rolls, and you degas less. Put each roll onto baking parchment for ease of handling.

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I just arrived back in Japan last night, and I brought my 4.5qt. Le Creuset pot back with me (taking up 15 of my 50-lb luggage allowance, nevermind that my suitcase itself weighs 20-lbs). I've just started my first loaf of no-knead bread, and am really excited! (Is it silly to be excited over a loaf of bread?)

My apartment is quite cold--10-15C during the day. I've read about other people's cold-rising experiences, and I may have to invest in a heating pad before long. I'll have to see how this loaf turns out. I'm probably going to do a 24-hour first rise, since I started this at 6am-ish.

I'm a bit worried that I added too much yeast. I was using a scale, and pressed "tare" before adding the yeast, forgetting that my scale doesn't measure in 1g increments unless something has a weight of at least 5g. I think I have about double the yeast. Oops. But would the extra yeast help the bread at all in my cold kitchen?

Any other hints for conquering cold kitchens?

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I'm a bit worried that I added too much yeast.  I was using a scale, and pressed "tare" before adding the yeast, forgetting that my scale doesn't measure in 1g increments unless something has a weight of at least 5g.  I think I have about double the yeast.  Oops.  But would the extra yeast help the bread at all in my cold kitchen?

Any other hints for conquering cold kitchens?

Extra yeast will just decrease the rising time, but your cooler apartment will increase the rising time, so between the two, it may be a wash. I'd look carefully for the bubbles and check the video for a reminder of what the ready-for-shaping dough should look like.

I made my last batch with twice the yeast, but with a long refrigeration step to retard, and the result was quite tasty, although it probably needed more than 31/2 hours to proof after being shaped straight from the fridge.

It's flexible enough to accomodate all of your changes.

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I've just finished catching up with everyone's progress tweaking this recipe.  I made several loaves (some with changes) in November and was not particularly impressed with the results.  I usually bake levain-based breads and find them to be infinitely more flavorful.  Of course, the process is more time consuming.  Now I read that there is a revised article in the NYT but access is no longer available to non-subscribers.  Could someone please post the changes Bittman made.  And, have these changes improved the flavor?

Marya,

I have the additional information printed in the NYT saved. If you still want/need it, I'd be happy to PM it to you, but don't want to post it all since it would probably violate copyright laws.

There aren't any changes made to the recipe, just some clarification and helpful hints.

Anyone else who wants it, please feel free to pm me, and I'll send it out to you asap.

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Extra yeast will just decrease the rising time, but your cooler apartment will increase the rising time, so between the two, it may be a wash.  I'd look carefully for the bubbles and check the video for a reminder of what the ready-for-shaping dough should look like.

That's what I was hoping! I've realized that the original recipe calls for 1/4 tsp., which means I probably added 3-4 times the amount. Oops again! Hopefully my extra cold apartment will prevent the superdose of yeast from doing too much damage. I'm sure everything will be fine in the end. Too much yeast won't kill me, after all, nor will very yeasty-flavoured bread!

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Divide the dough for rolls before the second rise.Handle the dough gently trying not to deflate it

Ideally you should shape each one, but just cutting into roughly equal size  chunks works just as well, gives good rustic rolls, and you degas less. Put each roll onto baking parchment for ease of handling.

Thank you. I was about to ask you to define that fancy baking term "degas" (I figured it was French), until I realized you meant de-gas! Or didn't you?

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Marya,

I have the additional information printed in the NYT saved.  If you still want/need it, I'd be happy to PM it to you, but don't want to post it all since it would probably violate copyright laws. 

There aren't any changes made to the recipe, just some clarification and helpful hints.

Anyone else who wants it, please feel free to pm me, and I'll send it out to you asap.

Thank you, but another kind member already sent it in a PM.

Edited by Marya (log)
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I have never made bread at home before this recipe and find I am making 2-3 loaves per weekend now. Here are the three loaves I served with a cassoulet on New Year's Eve to 15 adults.

gallery_44782_4067_397642.jpg

Everyone really enjoyed the bread (and cassoulet).

In telling my friends and family about this recipe, I found this website, which reviews the original recipe and the "tweaked" recommendations.

Here are my questions.

1. I have recieved some sourdough starter from http://www.sourdo.com/]Sourdoughs International. Once I get this going, how is the substitution made (quantity) to use the starter instead of the instant yeast?

2. I feel ready to do some additions to the bread. I am a more savory kind of gal and am thinking about rosemary, olives, that sort of thing. How and when should those additions be made? For example, I would love to add some course salt and rosemary to the surface...but am afraid, at such a high temperature, that there would be burning.

3. I am using a 5 quart cast iron dutch oven and/or a 5 1/2 quart Le Cruiset dutch oven, both round. Would it be worthwhile to purchace a vehicle for baking of more oblong shape? Anyone see any advantages one way or another?

Regarding the "taste" issue. I find this bread to be atleast as good as what I can easily get at the local grocery stores (Giant, Bloom, Ukrops) and am so proud (when I take it out of the oven, later cut into it, serve it to my family and friends) that I was the one who made it. Pretty darn good. I have gotten in to the habit of using atleast 1/2 to one cup of whole wheat flour in the mix. Personally, I have not noticed much difference when I added saved dough from a previous loaf or not.

Still really enjoying this recipe and technique!

Donna

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2.  I feel ready to do some additions to the bread.  I am a more savory kind of gal and am thinking about rosemary, olives, that sort of thing.  How and when should those additions be made?  For example, I would love to add some course salt and rosemary to the surface...but am afraid, at such a high temperature, that there would be burning.

In his addendum, Bittman suggests making additions after mixing up the dough (before the first rise), or folding them in after the first rise. Someone here (I can't remember who) mentioned making the additions at the very beginning (before mixing everything up), and it seemed to work for her. In other words, it seems anytime would be OK to add things.

As for adding things to the surface, I would think you'd get better sticking power if you add them at the very beginning of baking, after placing the dough in the pot. Maybe if you soak the rosemary in water a bit it would help prevent burning?

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Oops yes I did mean de-gas, that is try not to squash out the gas.

To try and answer elderno's questions:

1. I have received some sourdough starter from http://www.sourdo.com/]Sourdoughs International. Once I get this going, how is the substitution made (quantity) to use the starter instead of the instant yeast?

Using sourdough is a somewhat different technique to instant yeast, so its not a direct substitute. It is also often slower to rise. Assuming you have made up your starter from the powder that Sourdo has sent you, and its now a nicely fermenting mother culture, maybe refreshed once or twice, then what I would do is to make a preferment (sponge starter). Take 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water from the recipe and 1 tablespoon of the mother culture and mix together. Leave in a warm (28C/90F) place for 12 hours or so until its bubbly, then mix that with the rest of the flour and water and continue as the original recipe. It may take longer to rise - my sourdough takes roughly 4 times longer than commercial yeast, but the long slow rise in the recipe may be enough - depends on the individual culture.

2. I feel ready to do some additions to the bread. I am a more savory kind of gal and am thinking about rosemary, olives, that sort of thing. How and when should those additions be made? For example, I would love to add some course salt and rosemary to the surface...but am afraid, at such a high temperature, that there would be burning.

The surface doesn't get that hot - add away.

3. I am using a 5 quart cast iron dutch oven and/or a 5 1/2 quart Le Cruiset dutch oven, both round. Would it be worthwhile to purchace a vehicle for baking of more oblong shape? Anyone see any advantages one way or another?

Only if you want oblong loaves.

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2.  I feel ready to do some additions to the bread.  I am a more savory kind of gal and am thinking about rosemary, olives, that sort of thing.  How and when should those additions be made?  For example, I would love to add some course salt and rosemary to the surface...but am afraid, at such a high temperature, that there would be burning.

I've added sesame seeds to the surface of the batches I made with durum flour--I coated the dough heavily with them (all around) before the second rise, and they stuck really well and didn't get at all overdone. I also made a batch with part whole wheat which had rosemary in it, and put coarse sea salt on just the top surface of that. These were my Thanksgiving breads, and were a great success. I'd suggest you incorporate some rosemary into the dough as well as decorating with it, for a greater effect on the bread's flavour.

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2.  I feel ready to do some additions to the bread.  I am a more savory kind of gal and am thinking about rosemary, olives, that sort of thing.  How and when should those additions be made?  For example, I would love to add some course salt and rosemary to the surface...but am afraid, at such a high temperature, that there would be burning.

For the second rise I coated the bowl with sunflower seeds so when I dumped the dough into the LC they were on top no burning just yummy toasted seeds

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Even after pro training, I'm still a bread moron (although the best results I've ever had came via this recipe). But, can anyone link me back to a discussion of making a whole wheat/grain version of this bread? Any suggestions on how to tweak the original recipe to make this successful with whole grains and not have it come out as heavy as an anvil? Thanks much!

BeefCheeks is an author, editor, and food journalist.

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

--Alvy Singer

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Even after pro training, I'm still a bread moron (although the best results I've ever had came via this recipe). But, can anyone link me back to a discussion of making a whole wheat/grain version of this bread? Any suggestions on how to tweak the original recipe to make this successful with whole grains and not have it come out as heavy as an anvil? Thanks much!

Bittman suggests up to 30% whole grain, 50% whole wheat, or 20% rye to start with, and playing around to see what you like.

I just took my first loaf of no-knead bread out of the oven about 15 minutes ago. The wonderful smell makes it very difficult not to cut into it before it has cooled. I didn't make any changes in the recipe for my first time, but accidentally added too much yeast. Because of the very cold temp. of my apartment, it still hadn't risen enough after 22 hours, so I stuck it in my oven for 1 hour at 35C, then let it sit in the warm oven for a bit longer. For the second rise, it went into the oven at 35C for 20 minutes, then sat in the warm oven for 2 more hours. I baked it at 230C for 25 minutes, removed the lid, and baked for another 20 minutes. The colour is beautiful, and I can't wait to eat it!

I brought some whole wheat flour back from Canada, so I'll be trying some whole wheat in the dough next time.

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Even after pro training, I'm still a bread moron (although the best results I've ever had came via this recipe). But, can anyone link me back to a discussion of making a whole wheat/grain version of this bread? Any suggestions on how to tweak the original recipe to make this successful with whole grains and not have it come out as heavy as an anvil? Thanks much!

Bittman suggests up to 30% whole grain, 50% whole wheat, or 20% rye to start with, and playing around to see what you like.

I just took my first loaf of no-knead bread out of the oven about 15 minutes ago. The wonderful smell makes it very difficult not to cut into it before it has cooled. I didn't make any changes in the recipe for my first time, but accidentally added too much yeast. Because of the very cold temp. of my apartment, it still hadn't risen enough after 22 hours, so I stuck it in my oven for 1 hour at 35C, then let it sit in the warm oven for a bit longer. For the second rise, it went into the oven at 35C for 20 minutes, then sat in the warm oven for 2 more hours. I baked it at 230C for 25 minutes, removed the lid, and baked for another 20 minutes. The colour is beautiful, and I can't wait to eat it!

I brought some whole wheat flour back from Canada, so I'll be trying some whole wheat in the dough next time.

I have also just eaten from my first loaf of this bread, wow what an eye opener! For years I have been searching for that elusive crispy crust, and here it is. Like Prasantrin, I used too much yeast, my original dough/slurry had peaked its fermentation after six hours! Knowing no better I left it on the worktop for a futher 12, before dividing it, proofing for the second time and baking. It was still fantastic.

I baked in much small containers than anybody here is using as I cannot as yet find large cast iron pots in Jakarta, I ended up using a pair of small ceramic casserole's the larger one being only 1.7 Quart's!

I also added 50 grams of mixed whole grains to the dough/slurry, which added a beautiful note the the flavour of the loaf.

"Don't be shy, just give it a try!"

Nungkysman: Food for the Body and the Soul.

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