Friday, June 27, 2008

No-Knead Bread: round 1

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Finally! After much hemming and hawing and expert procrastination, I have finally made the famous (infamous) No-Knead Bread! Yes, the very yeasty monster that so many have tried before, most raving about the results. Mark Bittman, a writer for the New York Times, featured the recipe of Jim Lahey, a breadmaker from the Sullivan St. Bakery in New York. What makes the recipe special is that it involves no kneading (yes, as the name suggest, I know) and a long (12-20 hours) rest period. But of course, you already knew that seeing as to how I am probably the last to attempt this.

As you can imagine of a recipe that effectively nixes what is seen to be the most onerous part of bread-making, it took off like a rocket and spread like wildfire. Everyone tried it. It was simple, it was easy, you could do it with one hand! And best of all, it worked. People who had never made bread before were turning out boules straight out of a Montmartre boulangerie. I had to have a piece of the action.

Two things though: First, I actually like kneading. It relaxes me tremendously and, along with shopping, is my only form of exercise. Second, I am, if you haven’t yet figured out, a horrible procrastinator. If you are one too, then you know how it can be – rationalization and avoidance are our weapons.

I don’t have a Le Creuset/enamel/cast iron pot! (the vessel where you are to bake the bread) That was my common refrain (excuse). My friend M (Bond isn’t the only one with an M you know) quickly laid that doubt to rest as she made her No-Knead Bread in a crockpot bowl covered with a ceramic plate in a turbo broiler. Yes, I know she rocks. It was soon a moot point though because I bought two cast iron faux creusets (my wallet is not yet ready to spring for the Patek Philippe of enamel/cast iron French/Dutch ovens) in IKEA during a trip to Hong Kong. So no more excuses.

And if I still was the least bit hesitant this post totally won me over. There are more no-knead blog posts out there then you can shake a stick at, but if you need to be convinced to make this bread right now, just take a look at this. I love Jaden of Steamy Kitchen – love her recipes and her story-telling – but most of all I love her two adorable sons! Technically, it wasn’t Jaden that convinced me to get my tush in the kitchen and bake this bread...it was Andrew. See him in action...you won’t be sorry :)

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So! Faux creuset at the ready, I started. As Jaden says (and Andrew demonstrated) it is simpler than boiling pasta: 3 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, stir! Then cover the bowl and leave to rest for 12-20 hours. After the rest, dump it on a floured surface and with wet hands grab the dough and fold the ends towards the middle, then flip it over and tuck the dough ends under so you get a taut surface. Cover and let rest again for two hours. Half an hour before the rest ends, preheat your oven to 450F and stick the covered pot into the oven. After the dough has rested, remove the pot from the oven and dump the dough into the pot (I put a bit of parchment in to avoid sticking as Jaden advised). Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. You’re done! (please see Jaden’s post for a more detailed procedure and photos of the dashing Andrew making the bread)

Now. The reason it says “round 1” up there is because it did not turn out as perfect as I dreamed it would, but it did turn out good enough for me to keep at it until it does. If there are expert No-Knead Bread bakers out there (and I know there are!) or any kind of bakers at all, your advice would be seriously appreciated.

Here’s my result:
  • This is by far the best crust I have ever had on bread that I have baked.
  • I like the hole-y interior...again, bigger holes than I’ve ever baked before.
  • The depth of flavour was superior to any of my past breads.
  • It was soft, hearty, with a good chew but too gummy.

As you can see, the good outweighs the bad...but it still needs some work. I’ve consulted with M and she mentioned that it could be too much water (causing the gumminess), which is very likely as we live in an amazing amount of humidity. Extra (too much) moisture in the air is something we need to deal with constantly, wreaking havoc to our baked goods and our hair. So one thing to think about for the next round would be to lessen the water from 1 1/2 cup to 1 1/4 cup.

Any other suggestions? Temperature, baking time, baking vessel? Did I bake it too long? Too short? Did it rest too long (I let it rest for 19 hours)? Do I actually need more water (who knows)? The dough looked just as wet as it should compared to the photos I’ve seen around...

Help please! :) I am already half in love with this bread...if only I could turn out a less gummy crumb!

Another reason for my excitement and determination: As soon as I am done cutting my teeth on No-Knead Bread, I will move on to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day! Yes, I have bought the book and I’m ready to eat homemade bread for the rest of my life! Ok, a dream maybe, but Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (the authors) are actually making it possible!

Just so you know, I still plan to knead every once in a while. I mean, a girl needs her exercise right? :)

44 comments:

Barbara said...

Mine never looks any good but it tastes great. Yours does look good.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

When I first made this (thanks for the link) I thought I would make it again and again but I haven't. I really loved this crust and that it sang to me. I think you'll find the gumminess has been fairly common. Without knowing more here's what I would suggest: be sure you preheat oven and pot long enough at the high temperature; add a couple of minutes to the lid off bake time; allow the bread to cool on an open rack (as long as the bread is hot on the inside it's still cooking).
No Knead is fun and good bread. Your loaf is really beautiful. I wish you wonderful bread baking adventure!!

santos. said...

i'm not vehemently against this method, but i really don't understand what is the problem with kneading??? it's worked wonders for centuries.

Anonymous said...

Hello, love to make this bread, when uncovered and continued to bake until brown, 20 to 25 minutes. The internal temp. taken with an instant read thermometer should be between 207-210 degrees when done. I found that it was not as gummy at that temp. Good luck.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wonderful! Like you, I've never made that bread and don't possess a le Creuset pan... It is true, kneading has relaxing powers!

Cheers,

Rosa

Manggy said...

I agree, it does look good-- and nice holes, too. Somehow, with decreasing the water, be prepared to have a bread that's not quite as hole-y. I've not tried this method before (doubtful I ever will, as I enjoy kneading as well and was not lucky enough to strike gold with cast-iron dutch ovens (!!)), but you might consider a different flour too.

santos: Actually this technique has been well-established for quite some time now, not that I have any problem with kneading either :)

Dharm said...

You're not the only procrastinator!! I've seen this recipe around but havent done anything about it either. And like you, I blame my lack of a good pot for still not doing this No Knead!!

Patricia Scarpin said...

It looks pretty perfect to me, Joey. And I think now I'm officially the last person who hasn't tried this wonderful recipe yet!

Chicklit said...

Hi not a food blogger, but I posted about this recipe yesterday. My NYT recipe came out gummy, too. You might want to try the Cook's Illustrated version of the recipe. It calls for just a little kneading, vinegar, and beer, but (in my opinion) is even easier than the NYT version. It also wasn't nearly as gummy and it boosted the flavor.

SteamyKitchen said...

awwww....thank you!

"I love you Ms ChichaJo!!" from Andrew

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

We recently did a No Knead bread too, only more than a year late to the party. =)

Think we'll stick to the kneading kind, especially since the dough was hard to work with and turned out kind of messier than expected.

I guess I'm heartened that your result looks like the ones we had.

jhertz10 said...

I'm so glad you've got our book. I'm Jeff Hertzberg, one of the co-authors of "Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day." Once you start in, you may have questions, so come visit us anytime at our blog, at www.artisanbreadinfive.com, where you can post into any "Comments" field, or into the "Bread Questions" field on the left side of the homepage.

Jeff Hertzberg
www.artisanbreadinfive.com

Paz said...

Your bread looks awesome!

Happy kneading,
Paz ;-)

Carmen said...

beautiful recipe
thanks

ChichaJo said...

Hi Barbara! Mine may look nice but it needs some work...it does have good flavour though :)

Hi Tanna! Thanks for all your pointers! I am taking note for my next round :) It is a fun bread to make and there will definitely be a repeat...

Hi Santos! No problem with kneading at all! It’s one of the things I love about baking bread :) But it’s nice to have an option for when you just can’t find the time...this dough sleeps while I am working and is ready to go when I am :) Plus I can’t seem to get a crust like this with my regular kneading recipes...maybe you can give me some tips :) (I can’t give up the zen that kneading brings so you can be sure I will still be doing it!)

Hi Anonymous! Thanks so much for the tips! :)

Hi Rosa! It does! No-knead bread is good though when you have no time for an intensive kneading session ;)

Hi Manggy! Noted! :) I’ll be keeping that in mind...thanks! The cast iron pans I scored in IKEA are about 1/8th the price of what a Le Creuset would retail for here (when it was still available in Rustans)...they are very heavy and have been proving there mettle with me...especially with adobo! :)

Hi Dharm! I think we have more leeway with the pot than we think ;) Or you can always use it as an excuse to buy one, like me!

Hi Patricia! Try it...it’s fun and does produce the most amazing crust :)

Hi Chicklit! Will check out your post and that Cooks Illustrated version....thanks for the heads up!

Hi Jaden! Aaaah!!! I’m so thrilled I actually gasped when I read that :) :) :) Big hug to Andrew!!!

Hi JS! Although the crumb turned out gummy the dough wasn’t as hard to work with as I thought it would be...yes, definitely more soft and mushy than the other bread dough I’ve experienced but not totally impossible :) I love the crust so much though, which is why I want to keep at it :)

Hi Jeff!! What a thrill! Have I have seen the blog (through Zoe’s)...and believe me, will badger you guys with questions once I start :)

Thanks Paz! :)

Hi Carmen! Thanks for stopping by and for the nice comment :)

Kelly-Jane said...

It looks like a lovely bread, well done!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Kelly-jane! :)

LyB said...

I love making no-knead bread, I so agree that the crust is fabulous. Yours looks just terrific! I usually bake it a little longer than suggested and I finish it on my pizza stone, it usually gets rid of the "gumminess". :)

Veron said...

Yours look great joey. Welcome to the no-knead bread revolution!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Lyb! Thanks so much for the tips! I’m noting them down for next time :)

Hi Veron! Thanks! I wonder why I waited this long :)

canDIshhh said...

Your bread looks wonderful!

Andrea said...

Good for you for giving the bread a go! I think you'll enjoy the Five Minute bread book, it's been great for us.

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Candishhh!

Hi Andrea! Glad to hear that Artisan Bread in 5 has worked well for you...can't wait to try it out!

Coffee & Vanilla said...

Wow, this bread looks amazing!!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Coffee & Vanilla! :)

Trulie Scrumptious said...

I tried the "No Knead" bread about a year ago. I don't remember it being gummy but then again I have not made it since.
I like to knead too! That part is my son's favourite part to help with...love homemade bread..knead or no knead it fills the house with a great smell!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Trulie Scrumptious! I agree...the smell of freshly baked bread, kneaded or not, is one of life's amazing things! :)

Anonymous said...

Hi, I also just finished experimenting with the no-knead bread recipes. What I concluded is, lower hydration and cool oven to start with is the way to go.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Anonymous! Thanks for your advice...I'll be trying again soon :)

The DINKs said...

I just made my first loaf today. I had never heard of no knead bread until...yesterday.

Mine was about the ugliest thing you have ever seen when I turned it into the cast iron dutch oven, but it turned out DELICIOUS. Waiting for my hold on the 5 minute bread book at the library...

ChichaJo said...

Hi Dinks! I have yet to try this again, although I am planning to...let me know how the 5-min one works for you :)

Dan said...

What no one ever mentions is that the time you save by not having to knead is exceeded by the time required to clean the sticky gooey stuff off your hands, spoons, and everything else it touches. I liked the flavor but found that the crust and large holes precluded use for sandwiches, my main use for bread.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Dan! That's true! Hehe :) I'm making Artisan Bread in 5 now...it's great! I still do like making bread the old kneading way sometimes though...there's nothing quite like it :)

Anonymous said...

I think that the long fermentation gives the bread FLAVOR. I still knead mine just a bit before baking.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Anonymous! Thanks for the tip :)

Anonymous said...

I use King Aurther bread flour 12.75 oz, 1/4 tsp yeast, 1.25 cups water, and 1.5 tsp salt. I find it is more consistant that way. I also go hotter 500 degrees for 1/2 hr with the on, and 450 for 15 with the lid off. The pot is preheated with the oven. The rest is the same with 15 to 24 hr rest etc. I can reduce the size of the holes by working the dough a bit before the 30 minute rest. It is also a good idea to add some cornmeal or wheatgerm to the pot before placing the dough ball. I also will cool the bread on a rack before diving in, otherwise it can be a but gummy when piping hot!


Good luck

ChichaJo said...

Thanks for sharing your recipe Anonymous person! :)

sandhya said...

Does anyone know what ingredients or spices they put in the steamed mixed vegetables? They are delicious!

sandhya said...

Thanks for the great tips!

Soma said...

Joey.. I just made my no knead, heard it crackle & sing & bit my teeth into the Holey Deliciousness. I left mine to rise for about 18 hours, baked in a preheated Pyrex with a glass lid at 475 for 1/2 hr & then opened & baked for about 10 minutes. The best bread ever baked .. the BEST part of this is, i let my 8 year old daughter mix up the dough! She feels great about it & wants to make one very week.
don't know when i'll post..but soon. urs had come up when i was searching & thought i would just leave a (long) note...

ChichaJo said...

Hi Soma! Thanks for sharing your experience! Making this bread was fun and easy...and my most artisan-looking bread ever :) I will check out your post!

Erica said...

Here's another book that I found for no knead breads, kneadlessly simple by Nancy Baggett. Her recipes use a variety of pans and pots, so if you don't have a dutch oven there are plenty more recipes to try. She has a website that has a recipe archives, so you can try out some of her other recipes. You can take a look at her blog, also. www.kitchenlane.com

Happy Baking!

mike said...

I've made this bread several times and found that reducing the water by an once or so helps to reduce the "gumminess" and makes the dough a little easier to handle. Also, you don't need a high priced pot to bake in. I use a covered, 3 quart "pyrex" type casserole pot that has an oval shape and it works fine, be sure to let it cool before immersing it in water. Any metal pot can be used, I also use a smaller inexpensive "blue speckled" roaster pot and the bread comes out great. If you haven't tried the NO KNEAD BREAD recipe yet, you're missing a great product; it also makes fantastic toast!!!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks for the tips Erica and Mike! :)