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No Knead Bread Revised
Posted: 10 December 2007 01:13 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Inspired by the NYT recipe and the recent Cooks Illustrated updated version, I am pleased with a revision of my on making that is both fast and tasty.

To make a 1.5 pound loaf mix 15 oz (3 cups) flour (bread flour is best), 1 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast. Add 10 oz water. Mix by hand or machine to get a nice ball of dough. Spray with Pam, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 8-16 hours. I leave it overnight in an oven with the light on. Then punch down and fold a few times and shape into a nice ball, seam side down. Place on parchment paper or aluminum foil and let rise in a low container such as a 10 inch frying pan. Spray again and cover.

About an hour later place a 5 quart Dutch oven in the oven and heat to 500 degrees. Heat for 30 minutes. Dust the loaf with flour. Make one slice across the loaf about 1/2 inch deep. Lower the dough including the paper or foil into the pot and put the top on tightly. Bake 30 minutes at 500 degrees. The loaf should now be done and ready to remove.

Crispy on the outside and moist and springy on the inside. Try not to eat more than half the loaf before it cools. smile

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Posted: 10 December 2007 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I am making the CI version today.  The dough is resting as we speak.  I will, however, be using a 10” Pyrex pie plate instead of the 10” skillet called for as I think it will be easier.

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Posted: 10 December 2007 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I use a 10” Pyrex covered skillet.  I put the cover on while it’s rising.  I think it’s easier than spraying the dough and covering it with plastic.

I baked a loaf yesterday, and I’m about to toss one in the oven for a friend.

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Posted: 10 December 2007 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Tiffany, the pie plate sounds like a fine idea. Even an 8” or 9” diameter pan should work.

Let me point out the primary differences in my approach and the NYTimes and CI methods. The NYT uses much more water, 80% hydration. The dough is so wet and sticky it’s very hard to form into a loaf and actually get it into the Dutch oven. The crumb is wonderful and full of large holes. The crust is thick and crackly just like a French bread. The flavor is a bit bland, so many critics say.

The CI approach uses 65% hydration, that is, the weight of water used is 65% the weight of the flour. Now you can actually handle the dough and gently form it into a loaf. You can also dust it with flour so it takes on a real artisan appearance, and slice it for improved expansion. Beer and vinegar are added to improve flavor.

I experimented with all beer and no beer, as well as no vinegar. I could not tell that either offered a real improvement. I also cut the salt by one third as I felt the other recipes were too salty. Also I am now adding a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten which seems to make the crumb a little nicer. Surprisingly I found that bread flour made a more tender crumb than unbleached regular flour. I made the mistake once of not turning the heat down from 500 degrees to 425. The higher temperature works fine and the bread is ready after 30 minutes (internal temperature of about 205). It’s not necessary to bake with the lid removed. But do so for an even crustier crust if you wish. Aluminum foil works about as well as parchment paper and can be reused.

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Posted: 10 December 2007 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thomas, that’s another good improvement. Spray sort of goes all over the place so it’s good to give that up. Plastic wrap does tend to stick a little so using a pan with a domed lid sounds like a winner. Thanks.

I think I’ll bake a few loaves as Christmas gifts this year. Maybe I can double the recipe, split the dough and bake them in quick succession.

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Posted: 10 December 2007 01:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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My two cents:

* I use 80% hydration.  I’ve gotten used to handling the wet dough, and I find I get a better oven spring and looser crumb with the wetter dough.  I don’t make any attempt to form a loaf, though—I just give the dough several folds with wet hands, form it into a ball, and drop it into a parchment lined skillet.

* I’ve gotten the best flavor by delaying the rise by putting the dough in the fridge overnight immediately after mixing.  See Peter Reinhart’s recipe for Pain a l’Ancienne for the full theory behind this, but the basic idea is to let the starches in the flour break down into sugars before the yeast starts acting.  Anyway, one man’s “bland” is another man’s “subtle”.  Some may prefer sourdough or whole grain, but I love the complexity of the flavors naturally evoked from plain white flour this way.

* Like Bob, I’ve found that once the crust forms, varying the baking time or temperature doesn’t really affect the crumb much, only the crust.  Higher heat or longer times still result in a cool, creamy crumb—the crust just browns faster.  I like a thick, crispy crust, so I bake 30 minutes with the lid on, 20 minutes with it off.  I preheat to 550, but immediately turn down to 475 when the bread goes in.

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Posted: 10 December 2007 02:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Phase 2 complete!  The dough is rising in the Pyrex pie plate.  This is a very, VERY wet dough, despite CI’s claims of reduced hydration.  It is very slack and I found it challenging to handle once the brief kneading was complete.  I have to wonder if Florida’s humidity is having an effect on the dough as it usually does.

Thanks for sharing your tips, guys!  I’m not much of a bread baker, so this is quite the learning experience for me smile

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Posted: 10 December 2007 11:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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That’s interesting about your wet dough. Here in N. California we have pretty low humidity. I weigh my ingredients, for what it’s worth. Also the kitchen is running about 65 degrees daytime and 55 nights. You might cut your 10 ounces of liquid back to 9. That should make a real difference. You should be able to handle the dough.

How did your bread come out?

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Posted: 11 December 2007 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I weigh everything religiously as well.  I am a huge proponent of weighing and believe it makes all the difference in how a recipe comes out smile

The bread, in my opinion, did not turn out well.  It had very little rise and I really think it was too wet.  I think I will cut the liquid back the next time I try.  My yeast is fresh ... I just used it to make a beautiful coffee cake last week, so I know it’s plenty active.  I weighed everything that could be weighed in the recipe.  It rose for 15 hours on the initial rise (the recipe called for 8-18).  So, I’m stumped.

The worst part is that I made a lovely poulet en cocotte for dinner in anticipation of having this bread to go with it.  Ouch!  angry

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Posted: 12 December 2007 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Hi everyone,

Which issue of CI is this?

I am not a subscriber but I will run to our local library to look for back issues.

smile

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http://occasionalbaker.blogspot.com

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Posted: 12 December 2007 12:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Julius, it’s the Jan-Feb 2008 issue.

Yesterday I made the crispy oatmeal cookies from the same issue. They are the best oatmeal cookies I’ve ever made.

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Posted: 12 December 2007 12:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Baker Bob - 12 December 2007 04:34 PM

Julius, it’s the Jan-Feb 2008 issue.

Yesterday I made the crispy oatmeal cookies from the same issue. They are the best oatmeal cookies I’ve ever made.

Thanks, Baker Bob!

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Posted: 13 December 2007 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Incidentally, the poulet en cocotte I made was from that issue as well and it was sublime.

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Posted: 13 December 2007 12:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Tiffany, I’ll try that chicken in a pot. It seems so simple as well as tasty.

I was thinking again about your bad bread experience. Perhaps it had to do with the yeast. If you happened to use too much yeast, or the room temperature was too high, then you may have gotten too much yeast activity. This will cause the yeast to run out of food and create so many toxins that it dies. The dough will collapse. This is prevented usually by kneading the dough at the right time to bring fresh food to the yeast. In the no knead technique we use very little yeast and keep the temperature rather mild, or even refrigerate the dough in the overnight rising.

Do try the recipe again. Once you find out where things went amiss you will find this method very, very easy and the results to be outstanding.

Be sure to keep us informed.

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Posted: 13 December 2007 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Baker Bob - 13 December 2007 04:12 PM

I was thinking again about your bad bread experience. Perhaps it had to do with the yeast. If you happened to use too much yeast, or the room temperature was too high, then you may have gotten too much yeast activity. This will cause the yeast to run out of food and create so many toxins that it dies. The dough will collapse. This is prevented usually by kneading the dough at the right time to bring fresh food to the yeast. In the no knead technique we use very little yeast and keep the temperature rather mild, or even refrigerate the dough in the overnight rising.


I agree.  I’d try lowering the rise temperature and/or shortening the rise time first.  A no-knead dough needs to be wet.

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Posted: 13 December 2007 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I appreciate all the help and suggestions very much!

The room was fairly cool ... I had the bowl on my stove in the kitchen (electric, so no pilot light) and the house got down to about 71 degrees that night.  Maybe I’ll try putting it on the other side of the kitchen closer to the vent, which gets a tad cooler, and shorten the rise time to 12 hours.  I’m positive it wasn’t the amount of yeast I used, as I always measure/weigh very carefully, so perhaps that will do the trick.

I’m baking Christmas cookies today, but if I’m not too worn out by this evening, I’ll try again tonight.

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