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Minimalist No-Knead Bread Technique (Part 1)


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phlawless, what kind of flour did you use?

I note, by the way, that the recipe from the Times calls for bread flour and 1 5/8 cups water, while the recipe in the video calls for AP flour and 1 1/2 cups of water. When you're talking about only 3 cups of AP flour (and especially given the difficulty in measuring 8ths of a cup of liquid along with the accompanying tendency to err towards 3/4 rather than 1/2), that additional 1/8th of a cup can make a difference.

--

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OK~

made mine up with a little over 3 c flour and 1 5/8 c water, 2 tsp kosher salt. Rose for 18 hrs, looked kinda soupy but was almost workable. Threw it into an oval Romertopf, unsoaked, heated in the 450' oven. Baked 30 min w/ top on, another 20 w/top off. Internal temp 210'.

No difficulty other than freaking the dogs out with the smoke alarm going off :shock: (note to self: clean oven before next attempt.....)

Beautiful, popped right out of the clay cooker. (prolly 3 quarts?) Sang nicely.

Great crust, good crumb...a teensy bit damp but not bad. Somewhat holey, not big ones.

ABSOLUTELY NO FLAVOR :sad:

It'll be a terrific loaf for sopping up juices but, on its own, I am very disappointed. Love the method, not impressed with the taste.

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I note, by the way, that the recipe from the Times calls for bread flour and 1 5/8 cups water...

I think the recipe in the Times calls for either/or, Sam. I've been using only the GM bread flour, but tonight I'm going to mix up a batch with a blend of the two, as well as a batch with some w/w...I believe I will have a freezer full of bread before long - gotta start giving the stuff away!!

phlawless, I've got the exact same cast iron dutch oven - no sticking whatsoever.

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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Ok, 1 cup Whole Wheat, 2 cups Bread Flour. Bread Flour was just Pillsbury's Best, off the shelf and aged in my cabinet. Did splurge on the Whole Wheat, Arrowhead Mills stone ground.

Scoop and shake down.

Quarter teaspoon of Fleischmann's Rapid Rise.

Two teaspoons of Diamond Crystal Kosher salt.

Stirred up vigorously with the hand.

Dumped in a cup of water, and incorporated, added additional water until it made a ball.

Covered and ignored for 18 hours.

Dumped out on floured silpat, patted it on its head, floured surface, folded four times, floured folded side, inverted on 100% cotton kitchen towel, floured surface, threw another 100% cotton kitchen towel on top.

Ignored for an hour and a half.

Preheated oven at 450 with empty Descoware 4.5 quart covered casserole inside for 30 minutes.

Dumped seam side up into blazing hot pot, shook it up a little, covered and ignored for 30 minutes at 450.

Uncovered pot and ignored for another 30 minutes at 450.

Dumped it on a rack, and allowed to cool for 3 hours.

Whole loaf:

gallery_39581_3879_188632.jpg

Bottom of Loaf:

gallery_39581_3879_34534.jpg

Sliced Loaf:

gallery_39581_3879_627947.jpg

Sliced Loaf with Unwashed Descoware Pot:

gallery_39581_3879_220420.jpg

Hubby likes, but he is a bread pig! I must admit, it is a heartier bread. The crust did not suffer a bit. The interior was still elastic and very moist, but holes were smaller and more evenly distributed. There was almost NO yeast flavor, which I sort of like in a perverse way, compared to the all bread flour version. As I mentioned before, there was a lot more tension in the dough.

I think this would make a great sandwich.

Edited by annecros (log)
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Anncross, was the whole wheat light or dense? It looks a bit dense in the photo...

Denser than the all Bread Flour version, but not what I would consider a dense loaf of whole wheat bread. Lots of bounce in the texture, which is very pleasing to the tooth, and not what you would necessarily expect from that much whole wheat. I was concerned that I was overdoing it with the WW flour with 30% (although with the scoop and tap, who knows), but now that I have eaten a couple of more slices, it feels almost right. I am not baking tomorrow, but will probably do Whole Wheat version 2.0 the day after, to see if this is reproducable. I've been a long time away from bread baking as well, and things like the feel of the dough are coming back with each successive loaf.

Tasty, hearty. Wish I could hand you a slice!

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Mark (Max) Bittman--Thank you so much for visiting here. I am a huge fan. Your big yellow book is essential kitchen equipment for our two sons who are at college and in their first apartments. It helps them eat, and impress girls, so its a big hit.

Welcome to food-geekland, and if you still have the patience to wade thru the thread, I hope you will find it rewarding. My experience is similar to others. I followed a mix of the written and video versions, used KA organic bread flour, and after reading here, I snuck a bit of extra flour and salt into my sponge about three hours in. The wetness wasn't bad, which might be cuz I was using high protein, and its been raining nonstop for two weeks straight. Baked it in a 5 qt cast iron, which was had enough room (phew!), and it popped out cleanly.

I liked the color and the crispy crust when it first came out. The crust became chewy overnight. The bread itself is really light, and the loaf looks great. I found the flavor lacking, which I think can be fixed with more salt (I used 2t table salt), and some sourdough starter and/or rye.

After everyone on the thread is done experimenting, you may find yourself writing up some variations on this hugely popular article.

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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Just briefly, because I'm doing prep work for roughly 80 loaves and several tarts and cakes and I'm frazzled,... keep in mind that if you are measuring your flours using cups you'll all be getting different values. Every flour is different, apart from the obvious differences between high gluten or bread flour and all purpose. The water content of each flour varies bag to bag, and so to get the most consistent results, flours should, ideally, be weighed. So if you ask one person across the country (or even next door) how much flour per cup she's using, you'll likely get different results anyway because your flours will more than likely be different weights. One person's weather or climate may be enough to shift the balance as well.

As for the commercial yeast versus natural leavens, there shouldn't be any reason a natural leaven wouldn't work with this method.

Another thing. You'll likely never get an identical loaf of bread to somebody else's because we all do subtle things differently. Even if you're working side by side and use identical weights and measures and fermentations, the difference in shaping a loaf (or throwing it in the pot) will make a difference in how one person's loaf looks versus another's.

The Village Bakery

Edited by devlin (log)
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Just briefly, because I'm doing prep work for roughly 80 loaves and several tarts and cakes and I'm frazzled,... keep in mind that if you are measuring your flours using cups you'll all be getting different values. Every flour is different, apart from the obvious differences between high gluten or bread flour and all purpose. The water content of each flour varies bag to bag, and so to get the most consistent results, flours should, ideally, be weighed. So if you ask one person across the country (or even next door) how much flour per cup she's using, you'll likely get different results anyway because your flours will more than likely be different weights. One person's weather or climate may be enough to shift the balance as well.

As for the commercial yeast versus natural leavens, there shouldn't be any reason a natural leaven wouldn't work with this method.

Another thing. You'll likely never get an identical loaf of bread to somebody else's because we all do subtle things differently. Even if you're working side by side and use identical weights and measures and fermentations, the difference in shaping a loaf (or throwing it in the pot) will make a difference in how one person's loaf looks versus another's.

The Village Bakery

You are so right!

It is like comparing pie crusts, cakes or biscuits. Mama's, Granny's and Aunt Grace's are all very different and distinct. But it's all good!

It is very nice though, speaking from my own experience, to be able to once again produce a homemade loaf of bread, with a very forgiving recipe that yields good results, for my family. I think the biggest advantage here is making bread baking very accessable, to those who have physical limitations as well as those who are inexperienced. Bread has a certain aura of mystery about it. Honestly, it is just flour, salt and yeast with some water tossed in, a bit of time and patience to boot, but it is so amazingly good and satisfying!

Anne

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phlawless, I've got the exact same cast iron dutch oven - no sticking whatsoever.

is yours a Puritan? I inherited it from my grandmother at least a dozen years ago and have never needed to re-season. And yes, NOTHING ever sticks.

"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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i used ap flour with 1 5/8 cups water but ended up adding about another 1/2 cup of flour.

Whose AP flour? It seems to make a difference in this recipe.

it's local: Lindley Mills from Graham NC

"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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Mine came out of the oven about an hour ago. I'm very pleased with the result; definitely one of the better breads I've had. Although I agree with previous posts and will up the salt a little bit next time. Overall, it was a great article and an even better recipe.

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Such beautiful pictures!

Does the Le Crueset get damaged in any way from this recipe? I only have a very new one, and I don't want it to be very beat up.

My LC is fairly new, also, and I had the same concern. I called the company and explained the process to someone on their customer help line, and she indicated that there was no danger to the pot. I've made one loaf with it this way, and noticed no problems. I think I will, however, cover the handle of the lid with foil. It may not be necessary, but if it prevents damage over the long haul, it's a small thing to do.

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I've tried the recipe a few times using half buckwheat flour and half KA white wheat flour. Buckwheat, of course, makes the dough infernally sticky, especially with such a wet dough and even my usually trusty linen is now gunked up. I think next time I'll try the technique some have proposed of just dumping the dough straight from the mixing bowl into the hot pot. Other than that, I'm pretty happy with the results -- the end loaf has much less rise than AP flour would, but the texture isn't overly dense, it has a surprisingly light and airy consistency, and the flavor is really something. Anyone else have any experience with buckwheat? Should I up the flour/water ratio to make up for the fact that the buckwheat flour isn't adding any gluten?

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I've tried the recipe a few times using half buckwheat flour and half KA white wheat flour. Buckwheat, of course, makes the dough infernally sticky, especially with such a wet dough and even my usually trusty linen is now gunked up. I think next time I'll try the technique some have proposed of just dumping the dough straight from the mixing bowl into the hot pot. Other than that, I'm pretty happy with the results -- the end loaf has much less rise than AP flour would, but the texture isn't overly dense, it has a surprisingly light and airy consistency, and the flavor is really something. Anyone else have any experience with buckwheat? Should I up the flour/water ratio to make up for the fact that the buckwheat flour isn't adding any gluten?

Rather than upping the flour/water ratio, why not try using less buckwheat? Maybe a 40/60 or 30/70 ratio instead.

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Is anyone besides me using SAF Gold or a cloche?

I used King Arthur bread flour and SAF Gold for my first experiment. I have to say that I don't quite get the "no flavor" criticism in this thread. I found the loaf to be quite flavorful for a commercial yeast leavened white wheat loaf (I did use 2 tsp of kosher salt). The crust was especially nice. That said, I'd really like to try this with a natural leaven.

--

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I have yet to bake this bread, but RLB has recently posted about it on her blog. She also gives weight equivalents.

http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/2006/11/holy_bread.html

Interesting that in RLB's blog, she gives the measurement of 3 cups flour being something like 468 grams - that's a pound, much different than equivalent weights given in some of my bread-baking books.

I'm using an SAF Instant-yeast - not gold - in a red, white and blue bag, and I have 2 doughs ready to be shaped and proofed in an hour or so...can't wait!

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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Is anyone besides me using SAF Gold or a cloche?

I used King Arthur bread flour and SAF Gold for my first experiment. I have to say that I don't quite get the "no flavor" criticism in this thread. I found the loaf to be quite flavorful for a commercial yeast leavened white wheat loaf (I did use 2 tsp of kosher salt). The crust was especially nice. That said, I'd really like to try this with a natural leaven.

I got a nice flavor as well on the all white wheat. Yeasty. But, I am really considering subbing a cup of manioc flour in the next day or two. I love Pao de Queijo, and I think the manioc would add a nice sourish taste element. Also considering Masa as a flavor carrier. Then of course there is good old Rye, a family favorite with the guys in my home. Also kicking around a sweet bread variation, such as raisin.

All that will be down the road. I only have two pots that I feel are appropriate for this recipe on hand (maybe a third if you count the pyrex, but that idea scares me), but I haven't baked two loaves at a time yet. Good thing Thanksgiving is coming up. Something tells me by the time I am done playing around I will have a quantity of bread crumbs to use up.

I bet this would make a killer bread pudding, come to think of it!

I'm having fun with this, I must admit.

Anne

Edited by annecros (log)
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I'll be putting my latest batch into the oven in an hour or so. I used 20% semolina flour, and I'll be trying part of the batch in my LC terrine, to see how a rectangular loaf does.

Second the motion on the toast, it's quite lovely, especially with an aged Gouda, my breakfast this morning.

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