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Ethan
03-03-2010, 09:24 PM
I just made a batch of Jim Lahey's no-knead bread. It's ridiculously good. Off the chart. It's also gorgeous, like a bakery loaf. It's so good that my roommate and I started another batch of dough immediately after tasting this one. The first one was the standard recipe, and this second one ups the salt and adds olive oil and rosemary.

Anyone else into this bread method?

For background, here's the Mark Bittman column (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/08mini.html) that originally "broke" this technique to the world in 2006. A bunch of copycat books have come out since then, but all real credit goes to Lahey-via-Bittman.

When I first heard of "no-knead bread", I made the mistake of assuming it was some cheesy shortcut method that was popular because of its convenience and not its results, but that turns out to be totally wrong. The gist is that instead of using a bunch of yeast and forming the glutens in the flour through kneading, you use a very small amount of yeast and let their slow, steady reproduction form the glutens over time. It creates a much shaggier and chewier structure, and you also get amazing flavors because of the chemicals released during the fermentation (similar to the esters produced by yeast when you make an ale). You then bake it in a covered pot, which locks in all the moisture and gives the bread perfect texture.

Mr. J
03-03-2010, 09:48 PM
Ooh that sounds amazing! I think I'll give this a try over the weekend. It's always hard finding good bread and being able to make my own would be awesome.

gamin
03-03-2010, 09:54 PM
I wish I had a non glass covered pot to use or I'd be all over this. Cheap, tasty bread would add much needed variety to my budget-constrained diet.

R^2
03-04-2010, 06:17 AM
I'm a little new to baking but having read the article it turns a few things I thought I knew for certain around.

So let's see.

The longer a bread dough has to rise, the better the flavor. I knew that. Letting the bread rise overnight in the fridge makes a better product than letting the bread rise in a warm place for half an hour. Letting dough rise for eighteen hours seems like it'd give great flavor, but by then you're overproofed.

So use less yeast, right? This is where I don't understand it. Yeasts are immobile. They don't have legs of flagella or Vespas to move around inside the dough. Yeast cells bud and split, so you have two yeasts in the same place. These split, so you have four, still in the same place. Eventually you have a big clump of yeast cells all in one spot, where the cells on the inside of the clump are dying of starvation, which eventually sits in its own bubble of farted-out gas, so that the cells on the outside have trouble reaching the dough.

I mean, the whole reason you punch out the dough before putting it in the pan is to break up these yeast colonies and spread them evenly throughout the bread before the final rise in the pan. I guess maybe having an extremely wet dough changes this process somehow, but I can't figure out why it would.

Baking the wet dough in a covered pot to keep the steam inside is a stroke of fucking genius, though.

taidan
03-04-2010, 06:24 AM
Holy shit, I remember reading that one back in '06. Thanks for reminding me! It was quite intriguing.

Maybe I should try this someday.

Ethan
03-04-2010, 06:48 AM
Yeasts are immobile.

[...]

I guess maybe having an extremely wet dough changes this process somehow

Yep, this is what does it. As it says in the article, the dough truly is un-kneadably wet if you proportion it right. The yeast can't flow as fluidly as they can in, say, a beer wort, but they can still flow. When I checked on the first batch of dough after 8 hours or so of sitting, it had puffed and bubbled up so that it was pressed flush against the plastic wrap I put over the bowl, and it had an intense dough fermentation smell.

Reinforcements
03-04-2010, 06:52 AM
A recipe! We demand a recipe!

Destil
03-04-2010, 07:03 AM
The receptive is in the NY times video in the article Squid Brand linked...

Kirin
03-04-2010, 07:37 AM
Intriguing. I'll have to pass this on to my wife, who does occasional bread-making. Though I don't know if there's any way to combine it with the beloved sourdough starter colony she likes to use.

Ethan
03-04-2010, 07:38 AM
Here's the rundown, in my words instead of Bittman's.

Put 4 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, and half a teaspoon of instant yeast in a bowl. Mix it up a bit. (If you're using the kind of yeast that comes in a small packet and needs to be activated, like Red Star, the package should have a conversion guide.)

Pour 2 cups of water on that. It should be room-temperature water, about 70˚F or 21˚C, so you don't hurt the viability of the yeast. Mix it up until it becomes a wet, sticky, shaggy dough. Add a bit more water if you're having trouble moistening all the flour.

Put the wet dough in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let it sit for 18 hours or so. It will ferment, puff out, and develop many tiny surface holes.

Take the dough out of the bowl. Put enough flour on a working surface, the dough, and your hands so that you can handle the dough without it being too sticky. Fold the dough over gently a few times. Let it sit for about 15 minutes with a loose covering of plastic wrap or cotton.

Sprinkle flour or cornmeal or some other grain meal on another flat surface. Pick up the dough and form it into a ball shape with your hands. When you ball it up, you will probably make one side of the dough look a bit crimped and squished up. That side should be facing down, onto the grain-sprinkled surface. Let the dough sit there for 2 hours, loosely covered. This is the second rise.

About an hour and a half into the second rise, heat the oven to 450 and put some kind of tightly-covered pot in the oven so it heats up. I used a bare cast iron Dutch oven, but I think you can use pretty much anything, including oven-safe glass. It must have a lid, though.

After the 2-hour mark has passed, take the heated pot out of the oven and flip the dough over into the pot, so the side that was previously pressed down onto the grain meal is facing up.

Put the lid on and bake for half an hour at 450.

Take the lid off and bake uncovered for 20-30 more minutes at 450, until it's browned to your liking.

Pop the bread out of the pan with a spatula (it won't stick) and set it somewhere to cool for half an hour or so. A rack is best, but I put it on a paper towel on my counter and covered loosely with more paper towel, and that worked fine.

Eat the bread.

Be dumbfounded.

ChefCthulhu
03-04-2010, 09:56 AM
I've had this kind of bread before and it is rather awesome. Have had regular as well as cinamon raisin bread.

As far how the yeast gets around comes from the whole fermentation of yeast. The whole gas production part of fermentation that leads to the bubbles also helps spread the yeast as well. It's funny how things work together :)

Ethan
03-04-2010, 08:55 PM
Baked and tasted the olive oil and rosemary bread. So good. The oil made the dough ultra-sticky, though, and it came out denser than the plain bread.

Destil
03-04-2010, 11:22 PM
Baked and tasted the olive oil and rosemary bread. So good. The oil made the dough ultra-sticky, though, and it came out denser than the plain bread.

That sounds tempting, how much of each did you use?

Ethan
03-05-2010, 04:22 AM
I just kind of did it by eye, but I would guess... 1 1/2 tablespoons of rosemary needles, and 2 tablespoons of oil, roughly. It could have probably used more oil (though the stickiness would be insane), and fresh rosemary instead of dry.

Kirin
03-05-2010, 08:08 AM
We have an enormous rosemary bush in our garden. It comes in handy.

Ethan
03-05-2010, 08:14 AM
Seattle?

Kirin
03-05-2010, 08:49 AM
What, do I live in Seattle? No, North Carolina. We planted it and it grew like gangbusters. Really, rosemary is pretty damn hardy and will grow in a lot of places.

Ethan
03-05-2010, 09:11 AM
Ah. I ask because rosemary grows as a wild bush in Seattle. I was walking around with my friend and he was pointing out the rosemary bushes in every single yard we were passing. I was stunned and jealous.

benjibot
03-05-2010, 10:50 AM
I've been wanting to make this for a few years but I keep putting off that dutch oven purchase. I've only ever seen them for sale at hardware stores.

MCBanjoMike
03-05-2010, 07:10 PM
Man, I have everything I need to give this recipe a try in my apartment. I think this weekend will be fresh bread making time.

SEanEF
03-06-2010, 05:56 PM
It's actually kind of sad. This is the first thing I made when I got a dutch oven. I was so excited! I could have fresh bread, made at home, all the time!
I... I thought it was ok. Not something I'd bother with most of the time. Texture and crust were fine, but the flavor was pretty meh. Which was kind of weird since everyone else who tried it loved it to death. It was kind of upsetting, especially since I love bread. =(

Maybe I'll try that olive oil rosemary variant, hopefully I'll like that better. In other, related strangeness, I can somehow kill rosemary bushes. Bought a small one to keep in backyard in a pot for just this kind of thing. Grew a bit, flowered and then 3 months later the whole thing turned brown and died. ><

Kirin
03-07-2010, 05:56 AM
Yeah, if the texture is awesome, I'd say don't give up, just try variations to mess with the flavor. Rosemary bread is delicious, and I'm sure you could come up with other things to try throwing in as well. Maybe an onion bread? Also you might want to try a different brand of yeast, as I imagine that could affect the flavor as well. Or even different flour.

As for rosemary bushes, the one thing to remember is they like good drainage and plenty of sun. (And yet they grow in Seatlle apparently. I dunno.) Ours is in a raised bed on the SW side of the house and we basically do nothing to it.

MCBanjoMike
03-07-2010, 08:06 AM
It has been 18 hours! Time to prepare the dough and let it rise. The recipe says to let it rise for 2 hours, but do you think 3 or 4 hours would be too much? I'll be leaving for a while and I highly doubt that I'll be gone for less than 3 hours.

EDIT: Man, my dough is incredibly sticky. I followed the recipe closely, I hope this isn't going to be a problem.

MCBanjoMike
03-07-2010, 06:28 PM
I'm not going to lie to you people - the bread was great. It looked more or less like a bakery loaf, it tasted great and it had a nice spongy texture with lots of air bubbles. We split it three ways with some dried sausage, excellent cheese (Migneron de Chalevoix, mmmmm) and a bit of olive oil, just to try out all the possible combinations. There was nothing left when we finished. I'd be really interested to try out some variations, do you feel like posting some in here?

Rice Cooka
03-09-2010, 05:43 AM
Love no-knead bread. I'm also a fan of the Cook's Illustrated improvements: mainly substituting some or all of the water with beer, adding a tiny splash of vinegar and making a parchment paper carrying sling to make it a hell of a lot easier to get the sticky dough ball in and out of the dutch oven.

Protip: mix in whole oven roasted garlic bulbs in with the dough. Heaven.

Ethan
03-30-2010, 08:45 PM
Just made my fourth batch. After the first couple, this becomes so easy that you can make it out of boredom. My whole apartment smells like a bakery.

Rek
03-31-2010, 08:13 PM
That went reasonably well, despite using 2 months expired flour and 2 years expired yeast. I actually made it because I was bored, but it didn't work - I think I spent less than an hour in the kitchen actually doing stuff.
http://i.imgur.com/x6uko.jpg

Rek
04-13-2010, 07:37 AM
I just realized I forgot to put salt into the dough. It's sitting there rising right now. Anyone know what's going to happen when I go to bake it tomorrow?

Reinforcements
04-13-2010, 07:48 AM
I just realized I forgot to put salt into the dough. It's sitting there rising right now. Anyone know what's going to happen when I go to bake it tomorrow?
It will be fine physically but taste flat and terrible.

Ethan
04-13-2010, 07:49 AM
But probably not terrible enough for you to not bake it. I would bake it. It just might need some extra help from butter.

Reinforcements
04-13-2010, 08:29 AM
But probably not terrible enough for you to not bake it. I would bake it. It just might need some extra help from butter.
Well, sure. It would be wasteful to just toss the dough. Maybe try putting something on the outside to make up for it - cheese (asiago is great) or coarse salt. Maybe salt and carraway to turn it into a sort of pseudo-kummelweck bread.

MCBanjoMike
04-13-2010, 08:38 AM
I keep looking for a good excuse to make this bread again, but none has come up in the last few weeks. I don't dare make one when it's just me an my girlfriend around (or, heaven forbid, me all by myself) because I know I will eat the whole thing in basically one sitting.

KCar
04-13-2010, 10:32 AM
I just made this a couple of times for various parties. I substituted one cup of whole wheat in one loaf, which was good, but notably more dense and less risen than the pure white one. I wonder if giving the loaf more time to rise would help to mitigate the flour substitution.

I made a pure white flour loaf for my girlfriend to take to a baby shower, and apparently it was the star of the show. I now have the reputation of being a master baker in our circle of friends. It sort of makes me sad that the easiest bread I can make (I've been baking for a while now) is the one that's achieved this reputation. :(

Ethan
04-13-2010, 02:26 PM
That seems to be the universal experience with this bread years of baking experience put to shame by a single viral recipe.

But you still have to use old-school techniques for any bread that has to be denser, crumblier, or less airy.

Sheana
04-14-2010, 07:09 PM
Here's a question: my family's never heard of instant yeast, and couldn't find anything that fit the description at the store. They got something in packets called Fleischmann's RapidRise Highly Active Yeast. It doesn't say anything about activation on the back, just something about "liquids that have been heated to 120-130 degrees F".

Is this stuff instant yeast, just not labelled as such? It seems like it to me, but I want to be sure.

Reinforcements
04-14-2010, 07:43 PM
Here's a question: my family's never heard of instant yeast, and couldn't find anything that fit the description at the store. They got something in packets called Fleischmann's RapidRise Highly Active Yeast. It doesn't say anything about activation on the back, just something about "liquids that have been heated to 120-130 degrees F".

Is this stuff instant yeast, just not labelled as such? It seems like it to me, but I want to be sure.
No, "instant" yeast means you can add it straight to the dough without blooming it in water first. "Rapid rise" yeast is supercharged yeast that makes dough rise... rapidly.

KCar
04-14-2010, 07:45 PM
I didn't use instant yeast, for the record. I just used the same amount (1/4 teaspoon) of normal yeast, and let it dissolve in slightly warm water, as per usual.

Sheana
04-14-2010, 08:41 PM
It got confusing because looking at the labelling it had a thing that said "Insant Yeast Best If Used By" cut off at the back-top, and looking online it says it's an instant yeast. But I guess it's a fast-acting one, so moot.

Back to the drawing board!

Sheana
04-21-2010, 04:48 PM
Alright, I've gotten hold of regular yeast. It comes in a packet and needs to be activated with warm water and sugar and sit for ten minutes. How should I go about using this? There's no conversion guide for a half-teaspoon/quarter-teaspoon of yeast, how much water and sugar should I use? Do I measure the dry yeast to that amount, add the sugar & water, and then add the entire result of that into the dough mixture?

This is all so new to me!

Reinforcements
04-21-2010, 06:34 PM
Alright, I've gotten hold of regular yeast. It comes in a packet and needs to be activated with warm water and sugar and sit for ten minutes. How should I go about using this? There's no conversion guide for a half-teaspoon/quarter-teaspoon of yeast, how much water and sugar should I use? Do I measure the dry yeast to that amount, add the sugar & water, and then add the entire result of that into the dough mixture?

This is all so new to me!

Well, you should be able to tell how much yeast is in a packet, by measuring it or I'd think it'd say on there somewhere. When it comes to sugar and water, the important thing is the sugar/water ratio - you could float the yeast in a gallon of sugar water (though obviously that's a bad idea). Too low a sugar concentration and the yeast won't have enough food, too much and it'll inhibit the yeast growth anyway by denying them water or kill them outright. The ratio isn't super fine or anything though. As for temperature, the water should feel kinda neutral to you - around 100 F.

Sheana
04-21-2010, 07:49 PM
So after the yeast has activated and doubled in size, you just scoop it up and mix it into the dough? If there's excess water, just skim it off the top?

Reinforcements
04-22-2010, 03:36 AM
So after the yeast has activated and doubled in size, you just scoop it up and mix it into the dough? If there's excess water, just skim it off the top?
You can just dump it all in, there shouldn't be enough water to throw anything off.

Sheana
04-23-2010, 08:59 PM
Worked out the math for activating the yeast, made the dough. It seemed to work out alright, because here's the end result: bread!

http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j111/moodymanticore/bread1.jpg

http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j111/moodymanticore/bread2.jpg

It looks and smells good, and the inside is very thick but soft and sponge-like, and tasty.

Unfortunately, the crust is approximately the same strength, texture and taste as brick. It took a lot of effort to get my giant bread knife to go through it, yikes. It's not exactly burned, just maybe a tiny bit over-done or something. Probably could've used less flour and more corn meal when prepping the dough. That crust be hard. Maybe if I store it right I can get it to soften up with a little time?

Short version: outer crust needs work, but insides are tasty so who cares.