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Minimalist No-Knead Bread Technique (Part 1)

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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!

Rapid rise yeast is the same as instant yeast.

Rapid rise yeast is more finely granulated than active dry yeast, so it does not need to be dissolved in a liquid first. It can be added directly to the dry ingredients.

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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:

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.

I would go up to a 500 degree oven, or cook it 5 minutes longer than you did. The wet crumb is from being undercooked. Also, to build flavor make this bread but retain 1/4 cup of the dough and put it in the refrigerator. When you make the next batch, within 2 days or so, add that 1/4 cup old dough to the water required in the recipe and break it up, then mix as usual with the flour, salt, yeast. This is a traditional baker technique and will add flavor.

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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.

No kidding! I made a loaf yesterday and for a while I was afraid I'd completely destroyed the color of my lovely yellow pot. Then I had to go to the Le Creuset website for care instructions, fill both the pot and the sink--because the outside was messier than the interior--with a bleach/water solution and go to a movie while it all soaked. Now it's clean, in time for me to start my second loaf. If I stick with this recipe, I may have to buy a cast-iron dutch oven just for this bread.

Which was, as others have said, delicious, with a terrific crunchy crust, but a little too wet inside. I'm not a good bread baker, and this is so easy that I'll probably keep making it anyway. For the batch I'm making now, I upped the flour by half a cup (haven't gotten into weighing yet). I let it rise longer than the first batch, but it actually seems even soupier than the first loaf I made. There was just no way to place it seam-side down for the second rising, because there was no way to make a fold or a seam. So we'll see in a couple of hours.


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I let it rise longer than the first batch, but it actually seems even soupier than the first loaf I made. There was just no way to place it seam-side down for the second rising, because there was no way to make a fold or a seam. So we'll see in a couple of hours.


Exactly what my dough was like - and even though I floured the towel very well, the dough still stuck...but I'm looking forward to batch #3, using merrybaker's ingredient measurements.

And Fromartz, great idea to use the "old dough." How long will it stay active in the fridge?

Question - is everyone using a/p flour, or bread flour? I'm been using Gold Medal bread flour and wonder if I should just try it with a/p?

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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If you think your LC pot is clean, just wait until it sits in a 450 oven for 45 minutes -- empty.

Same with the Corningware I used. :shock:

and even though I floured the towel very well, the dough still stuck

If you have rice flour, try using that to flour the towel. It's like Teflon for sticky doughs.

Question - is everyone using a/p flour, or bread flour? I'm been using Gold Medal bread flour and wonder if I should just try it with a/p?

Did you use regular GM bread flour or their new Harvest King? I used King Arthur bread flour, but thought I might try their a/p next time.

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I bake my bread in a covered terra cotta pot (Schlemmertopf) that's essentially a cheaper version of the "La Cloche" product mentioned in the article.  The results are far, far better than with steaming the whole oven.

The bread will release from just about any surface after it's done baking.  You shouldn't need to worry about the seasoning in your pan.


do you soak your pot first and then heat it to 450" ?

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I started my first attempt this afternoon. Some details:

-Like a lot of the other posts I read, my dough was very wet, so I added probably an extra 1/2-2/4 c flour. I am using a locally milled unbleached all purpose. I also used filtered water.

-I don't think our kitchen is quite 70 degrees, so I might let it go a little longer if needed. We are making pizza tonight for supper, so with the oven being opened a lot, maybe it will warm it up...we'll see.

Here's my dough after mixing:


"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

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Having read about the "too wet" doughs, and trusting the 42% solution, I started with 18 oz of flour. I didn't have bread flour in the house, and used King Arthur all purpose. The dough was actually too dry (!) and I added a couple of tablespoons of water to get a moist, shaggy mass. Having worked with slack doughs a fair amount, I'd say this wasn't nearly as wet as a ciabatta would normally be. Based on comments here, I also upped the salt to 2 tsp of DC kosher.

The only yeast I have right now is SAF Gold, which is an instant yeast formulated for sweet and fermented doughs. Although it's not what's called for, I figured it would work fine with the overnight ferment.

My oven has a Proof setting, so I let the dough proof in that for about 8 hours, then turned off the oven for the night and left the dough to its own devices in the slightly warmed oven overnight.

I was able to round the dough up onto a boule with no problem. The dough wasn't sticky or wet, just tender.


I set it on floured parchment, since I couldn't see any reason to use a towel. I did cover it with a floured towel. It didn't rise much during the second rise period, maybe 25 - 30%.

I baked it in my cloche, which I preheated at 450 for 45 minutes. I didn't soak the cloche.


I got a beautiful oven spring, with the boule popping to an almost spherical shape. I baked it to an internal temperature of 205, when it sounded hollow as a drum. The crust was crunchy, rather than shattering, but it did sing as it cooled.


Here's where we can see that the dough wasn't wet enough. While the texture is partly open, I would have liked bigger holes, and a more even distribution. I think that's all about the wetness - right?


The crumb was elastic and moist. Oh, and some garlic roasted in duck fat goes really well with this bread!

Overall, I'd say the bread was very good for the amount of work involved. I've made a number of breads with a 2-3 day ferment, and they have better flavor. But I think that Fromartz' suggestion to use a bit of old dough would solve that. I'd still like more salt, and will probably take it to 2 1/4 tsp next time, remembering that it's DC kosher I'm talking about, not table salt. I think a little semolina flour would also boost the flavor.

So for me, next time will be a little wetter, a little saltier, and though I forgot to save dough to add next time, I will put in a touch of semolina flour. Fortunately, it makes a smallish loaf so I won't have to wait too long to try again.

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My very first loaf of bread is out of the oven and in me (well, not all of it, not yet, anyway).

Thanks to Ruth, MelissaH and SparrowsFall for their encouragement and the (even more) simplified way - and to everyone for all the info.

I used King Arthur AP flour and scooped 3 cups with a little settling, so I'm sure I was on the high-side of the flour measurement, 1 5/8 cups of water plus a couple of extra tablespoons because it seemed a little dry (like Abra's). I let it sit for 18 hours, about half that time on top of the oven, which was turned to warm - the temp is cool in my kitchen - and then another 2 hours after I scooped it over itself a few times.

Following SparrowsFall advice, the dough went from the bowl to the LC. The place smelled divine. My timing and the look of the loaf is very close to MelissaH's (sorry, no camera). And sure enough, it slid easily onto the rack.

And it's tasty! :wub:

There were a couple of small blisters on the top and quite a few small and medium holes inside but is a little denser than I'd imagined (or hoped for) so perhaps a little wetter next time? And there will be a next time! Forgive a newbie's newbie enthusiasm, but I did a small happy dance. (We'll see what kind of bread-baking monster this creates.) :wink:

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I'm so glad that you invited Mark B to drop by. It would be great to get his insights and ideas.

And I am totally going to borrow the floured parchment idea when mine is done fermenting later on.

Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther
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I sent Mark Bittman an email asking him to drop by this thread and chat with us about this technique.  I don't think I've ever seen him on eG, but it would be great to get his input.

Great idea. I've been thinking all along that the best way to get the proportions right here is to ask Bittman to ask Jim Lahey at Sullivan's Street Bakery to convert the recipe he gave out to metric (weight) measurements, for us compulsive eGulleteers.

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May I ask a total amateur question that possibly belongs in another thread?

Is there a connection between this super-long rise and the method of baking the bread? In other words, could you use a different bread recipe and also bake that in a hot pot for a crunchy crust? Or is the high water content here necessary to get the amount of steam you need for the crunch?



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I made two loaves this weekend--both were great. I followed the recipe except I used 2 teaspoons kosher salt. The dough seemed dry (shaggy) in the bowl initially but by the time I made the loaf (18 hours) it looked more like a biga than a finished loaf.

My Creuset is large and the dough very slack, so I ended up with a fairly flat, round loaf, but the advantage is that there's more crust.

Beautiful pictures, Abra!

I baked for 45 minutes (internal loaf temp 206). Crust was thick and crackly, but the internal crumb was still moist. I liked the level of salt (earlier posts suggested that a bit of a boost would be helpful).

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A couple of thoughts about what some folks have been experiencing as not just very wet dough but a wet loaf once it's baked. I'm not sure whether it's simply that you're not baking long enough (as Abra noted above, you should try for an internal temp of roughly 205 degrees Farenheit) or it's that you're unused to a method that tends to produce a fairly inherently moister bread than most of us are used to.

Also, your bread will likelier seem wetter than normal if you cut it open right away, and so you should generally wait for at least 20 minutes to open a loaf. I prefer not to cut open my loaves for a full day after baking. But that's probably a more desirable habit with sourdoughs than breads with commercial yeasts.

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I've done two loaves now, and was very satisfied with the results. Now that I have it going, it will be a regular routine until my attention span runs out!

I followed the video closer than I followed the recipe. I scooped my flour and shook it down, and did up the salt to 2 tsps. I sort of just added the water until it formed a ball, starting with a cup of water then adding a tablespoon or two at a time until it held together. At first, I was afraid that the dough would be too stiff, but after it worked out its 18 hours, it was perfectly foldable.

Sorry no pictures, the camera batteries were dead.

I used the 4.5 quart oval LC, it was plenty roomy enough for the loaf and I think the smaller size helps the spring. And the spring was AMAZING! The crackling crust and flavor were wonderful, and a lovely moist interior. My holes aren't as big as others, but they are plentiful and well distributed, and there are enough largish ones that I can see where if I slacked the dough a little more they would open up better. Hubby was very skeptical when he saw some of the pictures, because he felt it was too "holey" for his tastes. He's a dense bread guy, but he really loved the crust and the moist texture of the interior and is now sold on this method.

Last night I subbed one part of whole wheat to two parts bread flour, and that will go in the oven this afternoon. My european husband prefers a grainier bread, so some rye is in the future as well. For a man who was raised on daily trips to the bakery, his quick consumption and praise meant a lot to me!

I bought new batteries yesterday, so will be able to add pics this afternoon hopefully. If hubby doesn't devour this bread as quickly as he did the other two loaves!

It is really nice to be baking bread again. I had sort of given up hope a couple of years back when my arthritis made it difficult for me to jump through the typical bread baking hoops. I feel like I'm back in the saddle!



Edit! Stop the presses, hubby helpfully snapped a shot of the heel of yesterday's bread before breakfast this AM and left it on the desktop! Great guy.

Here is yesterday's:


Will post the Whole Wheat version later today.

Edited by annecros (log)
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Did you use regular GM bread flour or their new Harvest King?  I used King Arthur bread flour, but thought I might try their a/p next time.

I've been using their new Harvest King - no special reason, it was just what I spotted first in my market.

This is so interesting to see just how different everyone's results are; using different types and amounts of of flour, different salts, environmental factors (e.g. what's the relative humidity), etc. etc. But, the bottom line is that everyone seems to enjoy the final product, be it a flat loaf with more crust, a slightly denser loaf with tighter crumb, or a perfectly risen one like abra's!

Great thread - hope Bittman shows up.

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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And Fromartz, great idea to use the "old dough."  How long will it stay active in the fridge?

It's great to use it within 2 days. The alternative is to take the knob of dough after 2 days and just double it in size with flour and water and put it back in the frig. This way you will keep refreshing it. But a lot of baking is experimentation. I'm sure it would add flavor after five days, or even a week, but you need to try it to find out.

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I think the variables in dough quality - from soupy to stiff - are the result of people here using different flours. The relative stiffness of the dough depends upon the protein content. Bread flour will be stiffer than All Purpose with the same amount of water. But obviously, even within those categories there are differences. That is why people using King Arthur AP flour had stiffer doughs. I had this experience too - I had to boost the water because the dough was too stiff.

And yes, the looser the dough, the bigger the holes as long as you don't overleaven the dough. When the dough hits the hot oven, the yeast expands dramatically. With wetter dough, this happens faster, meaning bigger holes.

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I sent Mark Bittman an email asking him to drop by this thread and chat with us about this technique.  I don't think I've ever seen him on eG, but it would be great to get his input.

Well here I am.

It's not science. That is, it is science, but I and probably most of you don't want to be bothered with the science. And the science changes anyway.

The water content is approximate and changes with each batch. As Ed Schneider pointed out, here or to me, you can always adjust the lid-on time to compensate for drier or wetter dough. The keys to me are:

1. a dough so wet you can barely handle it (a dusting of flour usually fixes too-wet dough, so I start it a little wetter than I might otherwise; the dough becomes stickier as it rises anyway, right?)

2. the long rise - 18 hours does seem optimal, but longer, shorter, depending on temp and your desire. I don't see why you couldn't slow it down a LOT and go considerably longer for more flavor. But this is pretty good. I can't tell whether the second rise is better at 2, 3, 4, or even more, hours. Opinions here?

3. the oven technique, which is the easy part it seems to me. I'm using cast iron. Someone told me Le Creuset lid handles melt at 450. Oops.

4. Sufficient cooking. I go to 210 degrees. I have tried 500DF and burned the bottom. Yesterday I did 500 for half the cooking then 450 for the remainder. That worked, but I didn't see improvement for my fussing.

Though the Times piece was long-ish, clearly there was not enough space to go into as much detail as we all might like. Clearly, too, I wanted to get this technique - which I do think is brilliant, if not revolutionary as some people have been saying - into the hands of many more people than just me and Jim Lahey. Jim continues to experiment, as I reported, as do I - but a loaf or two a day is not the same as hundreds or thousands, which is what's happening now. I have never, ever, received so many e-mails in response to a piece.

To me, the big questions are not marginally improving the flavor or using sourdough, which seem to be the concerns of many people here and of those who e-mail me directly, but these

1. can we adapt to other shapes (a small fish poacher for a baguette?)

2. how much whole grain flour can this dough support well?

Forgive me if I have not read this whole thread - I will at some point. But since I was invited, I thought I'd jump in. In this company, however, I'm not an expert - I've made twenty loaves or so, so don't expect me to know more than y'all do, or much more.


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Sorry for the delay. Here is what the inside of my loaf looked like:



I did get some nice big holes. The flavor was good, and the crust was wonderful. The bottom was maybe a smidge too black, so next time I'd probably take the heat down a bit, to 475 or so. The interior texture was a bit elastic, but still moist. This was a gutsy bread, to my tongue one that cried out for some WW flour next time, and also some cheese and cornichons alongside. I, too, thought it needed more salt. (I'd used a teaspoon and a bit more of Diamond Crystal kosher salt, but if the original recipe meant a teaspoon and a quarter of table salt, I'd be way low.)

The second day, the bread was still quite edible. I'd simply turned it cut-side down on the cutting board, and left it there overnight.

The third day, the bread was starting to suffer, but my husband ate a slice without complaining.

Today is the fourth day. I think it's time to make bread crumbs.

I'll be starting another batch tomorrow afternoon, to be baked on Wednesday. My plan is to measure the flour as the video showed, weigh it out, and then remove some of the white flour and replace it with an equal mass of WW flour. I'll also weigh the water, although the WW flour may need a little more water than just the white flour did.

Has anyone tried this in plain old cast iron yet? I think I'm going to need my LC pot for something else, and I'd like to know if anyone's had a problem with stickage (and the accompanying horror of seasoning destroyal) in cast iron. Not to mention the LC knob/hot oven issue....

Oh---the flour I'd used was King Arthur All Purpose.


Edited by MelissaH (log)


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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Edited to add: Oops, while I was writing this, Mr. Bittman posted his message, so what I have to say now doesn't add anything, but I can't figure out how to remove this message, so.... sorry. :sad:

I'm not sure whether it's simply that you're not baking long enough

I baked mine to 210 degrees, and it was still nice and moist inside. I don't remember who it was (Calvel?) who said to bake bread until you think it's done, and then bake it five minutes more. So that's what I do, and am usually happy with the results.

Edited by merrybaker (log)
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  Another change would be to preheat at 450 degrees.  I preheated at 500 and baked at 450, and the bottom got too brown.

I had the same problem. I used the same water, salt and flour ratios (measured as in the video) but upped the yeast to 1 tsp so I could bake it the same day. I mixed and rested for two hours, then folded and rested two more hours and then shaped and let rise for one hour. Preheated oven (and pot) to 510 degrees and put it in. Everything up to that point was great and just as the video. I uncovered it after 30 mins but started smelling the bottom burning after about 5 mins. I could only let it go about 10 mins uncovered and took it out. The bottom was somewhat burned. It looked good but was clearly not brown enough on the top. The crumb was fine, no large holes at all. (of course, I didn't follow the direction exactly.) The flavor was fine and the texture was somewhat chewy. Although I'd like to follow the directions exactly someday, I'm not very patient and would like to repeat the way I made it this time (in one day) but just slightly reduce the oven temp so that it can cook longer and see what happens.

Here are my pictures, though I forgot to photograph the interior.



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      4 to 6 pickling cucumbers (cucumbers should be not much larger than 1 inch in diameter, and
      4 to 5 inches long)
      1/2 to 3/4 of one, medium size onion.
      1/2 red bell pepper.
      1/4 cup, pickling salt (coarse kosher salt)
      2 quarts, cracked ice
      water to cover
      2 tablespoons, mustard seed.
      1 heaping teaspoon, celery seed
      1 1/2 cups, vinegar
      *NOTE: Use cider or distilled white vinegar, do not use wine vinegar.
      1 1/2 cups, sugar
      2 heaping teaspoons, pickling spice mix.
      Carefully wash the cucumbers and bell pepper. Slice all vegetables very thin, using a food processor with a narrow slicing blade, or by hand, or using a V-slicer or mandoline. Toss the sliced vegetables together in a glass or crockery bowl large enough to hold twice the volume of the vegetables. Sprinkle the salt over the vegetables, add the cracked ice, toss again to blend all ingredients and add water to just barely cover the vegetables. Place a heavy plate on top of the vegetables to keep them below the top of the liquid.
      *Set aside for 4 hours.
      Place the vinegar, sugar and pickling spices in a 4-quart Pyrex or other microwavable container (the large Pyrex measure works very well)
      Microwave on high for 15 to 20 minutes. [if a microwave is not available, simmer the syrup in a narrow saucepan on the stovetop, over low heat, for the same length of time.] Allow the syrup to cool. Strain the syrup and discard the spices.
      Place one wide-mouth quart canning jar (or two wide-mouth pint jars) with their lids in a pot of water to cover, place over medium heat and bring the water to a simmer (180 degrees). Remove the pot from the heat and allow jar(s) and lid(s) to remain in the hot water until needed.
      *After the 4 hours are up (crisping the vegetables as described above) pour the vegetables into a large colander and rinse well. The cucumber slices should taste only slightly salty. Return the rinsed vegetables to the bowl, add the mustard seeds and celery seeds and toss well until evenly distributed. Set aside.
      Return the syrup to the microwave, microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes [or heat the syrup on the stovetop] until an instant read thermometer shows the temperature of the syrup is 190 to 200 degrees.
      Place the vegetables into one wide-mouth quart jar, or in 2 wide-mouth pint
      jars that have been scalded as described above. Pour the syrup over the vegetables, place the lids on the jar or jars, tighten well and place in the refrigerator overnight.
      The following day, turn the jar upside down - then continue to turn every day for 2 weeks. (This is to insure that the pickles are evenly flavored)
      After 2 weeks open the jar and taste. The pickles should be ready to eat.
      Pickles will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 months.
      ( RG2154 )
    • By srhcb
      Poppy Seed Lemon Bread
      You know the old saying, "If life gives you poppy seeds, make Poppy Seed Lemon Bread!"
      This is my version of a lemon quickbread recipe from the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook.

      2 c Sugar
      2/3 c Butter, Melted
      2 tsp Vanilla Extract
      1/2 c Fresh Lemon Juice
      4 Eggs
      3 c AP Flour, (I do like KAF)
      2 tsp Baking Powder
      2 tsp Salt
      1 c Milk
      1/2 c Poppy Seeds
      Grated Rind of 1 Lemon

      1 c Confectioners Sugar
      1/2 c Fresh Lemon Juice

      Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
      Grease 2 4.5 x 8.5 Loaf Pans (and/or line with Parchment Paper)
      Combine the Sugar, Butter, Vanilla & Lemon Juice
      Beat in Eggs, one at a time, until smooth
      Mix together Flour, Baking Powder & Salt
      Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients alternately with Milk
      Add Lemon Rind & Poppy Seeds
      Pour Batter into Loaf Pans
      Bake for about 1 hr, until toothpick comes out clean
      Prepare Topping:
      Dissolve the Confectioners Sugar in Lemon Juice over low heat
      When bread tests done, and is still hot, pierce top with knife or skewer, and pour Topping over holes
      Cool loaf in pan about 1 hr, remove and wrap in waxed paper and then foil and allow flavors to mature for 24 hrs before serving
      ( RG1939 )
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