Thursday, December 31, 2009

Lamb Meatballs with Lemon-Cumin Yogurt


For the meatballs:

* 1 pound ground lamb
* 1/4 cup finely chopped white onion
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
* 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
* 1 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the yogurt:

* 7 ounces whole-milk Greek yogurt
* 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* Zest of 1 medium lemon, minced


  1. Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
  2. Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  3. Form into 30 balls (about 2 teaspoons each) and place on a baking sheet.
  4. Bake until meatballs are no longer pink in the middle, about 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, combine all yogurt ingredients in a small bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well. Serve with the meatballs.

Crostini with Tomato-Fennel Sauce

EDIT 1/2/09: originally I envisioned this as a bite with grilled tri-tip; however, the sauce is good on crostini alone, and reminds me of an italian version of Spanish "tomato bread", known as pa amb tomaquet. My version is a lot more juicy and flavorful from the fennel.

Sauce is based on what I found earlier this week on Epicurious, and very tasty. Would be good for pasta or pizza; I like the sweet fennel notes that come from both the seeds and the root.

20 crostinis (recipe follows)
1 cup of Tomato Fennel Sauce
Fresh fennel fronds

Assembly: spread about 1 tbsp tomato sauce on crostini. Top with small piece of fennel frond.


1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Baguette or other good-quality crusty bread, cut into 1" x 2" pieces
Salt + Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil and garlic. Let rest at least 30 minutes
  3. Lay sliced bread out on cookie sheet.
  4. Brush bread with infused oil on both sides.
  5. Season "up" side with salt and pepper
  6. Bake for 7 minutes, flip pieces, and bake for 8 to 13 minutes more (15-20 minutes total).

Tomato-Fennel Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

* 1/4 cup olive oil
* 4 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 cup chopped fresh fennel
* 1 1/4 teaspoons fennel seeds
* 1 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes
* 2 tablespoons tomato paste
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, fennel and fennel seeds and sauté until tender, about 12 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juices and next 4 ingredients. Simmer until sauce thickens, breaking up tomatoes with back of spoon, about 25 minutes. Blend about 1 cup of sauce in blender til smooth; stir back into sauce. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill. Rewarm before using.)

Roast Chicken

Who says that meat can't be cheap? Foster Farms whole young chickens for 69 cents at Ralphs this week. Sure, it's not free range, but it's decent quality.

So here's my roast chicken (based on ATK):

1 young chicken
1 cup butter, softened
3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
3 tbsp chopped fresh garlic
Salt and pepper
1 lemon, sliced in 1/2
1 onion, sliced in half
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Fennel fronds, chopped (optional)
1.5 cups chicken stock
Roasting pan with V-Rack
  1. Preheat oven to 450F
  2. Combine butter with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Remove giblets & set aside; rinse and dry chicken. Salt inside. Set in roasting pan.
  4. In cavity, stuff 1/2 of onion, lemon, rosemary sprig.
  5. Put butter under skin, then smear all over outside.
  6. Salt and pepper outside.
  7. Add remaining chopped veg (onions, carrots, celery, chicken stock, fennel) and giblets to pan.
  8. Roast at 450F for 15 minutes, middle rack.
  9. Turn down temp to 375F for 45 minutes, or until breast hits 160F. Check thigh too; you can always cut the thighs off and return them to the oven.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

wine party

On New Year's Day, we're hosting a little party to start the New Year and celebrate B's completion of her sommelier program at PCI.

We'll be busting out a vertical tasting of a nice red blend from Santa Barbara County (Epiphany Cellars Revelation, which is typically Syrah, Petit Syrah and some kind of Grenache), stretching back to 1999.

So what small bites to make? We're estimating 14-16 people.

Lamb meatballs with greek yogurt
Stuffed mushrooms
Goat cheese/caramelized onion puff pastries
Braised duck en croute
Tri-tip bite tomato/fennel sauce
Bacon-wrapped dates
Bratwurst with Dijon mustard

Something sweet:

Grandma's Bread #17

Adjusting the formulations again; I estimate this hydration around 77%.

Bread flour 100.00% 427g
Rye flour 25.00% 107g

Buttermilk 30.00% 160g
Water 50.00% 267g
Honey 15.00% 80g
Salt 2.00% 11g
Yeast 1.50% 8g


  1. Heat water & buttermilk to 80-100 degrees.
  2. In mixer bowl, add buttermilk mixture. Stir in honey, then stir in yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk flours together in separate bowl.
  4. Add to mixer bowl, knead with hook on #2 for 2 minutes, let rest for 20min.
  5. Add salt. Knead with hook on #2 for 7 minutes.
  6. Shape on floured board, put into oiled bowl, covered, for 2.5 hours.
  7. Knock down, letter fold 2x, shape into loaf, put into greased & floured loaf pan.
  8. Into fridge at 230pm, out at 530pm.
  9. Rise for 1 hour
  10. Add 2/3 cup hot water.
  11. Bake at 450F for 10 minutes, then at 400 for 30 minutes.
  1. When it came out after 1st rise from oiled bowl, it was soft like pizza dough, and had doubled in size. Very easy to handle, very soft but not really sticky, minimum flour recipe.
  2. At 530pm when it came out, it was doubled in size again, in the pan. So probably too much yeast.
  3. After a 1 hour rise, it was falling over the sides.
  4. Could've stayed in the oven another 5 minutes.
  • Great browning
  • Nice thin, crispy/crackery somewhat shattery crust
  • Super light, airy texture, like store-bought sandwich bread, with a tiny chew/pull. More "spongy" than regular sandwich bread (doesn't compress as much)
  • No yeasty taste despite super-fast rise
  • Not sour, not sweet.
  • Overall doesn't taste like Grandma's bread, but is a rye variation

how much yeast?

DiMuzio talks about this in "Bread Baking: An Artisan's Perspective" (p 158).

For a lean dough @ 77F, he estimates the following percentages for peak fermentation times:

0.3% - 3 to 4 hours
0.4 - 0.5% - 1.5 to 2 hours
0.7% - 1 hour
1% - 30 to 45 minutes

Lots of variables enter in though:

  1. Sweeter doughs require more yeast (typically over 12% sugar)
  2. Richer doughs require more yeast

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Grandma's Bread #15 & #16 - extrapolated

So I plugged in my weights & quantities from #14 to try to figure out baker's percentages for Grandma's bread #14. Here's what I ended up with (using the Expanded Pizza Dough Calculator on

#15: single loaf based on #14 weights

Flour (100%): 342.88 g
Water (53%): 181.73 g
ADY (1%): 3.43 g | 0.91 tsp
Salt (2%): 6.86 g | 1.23 tsp
Honey (30%): 102.86 g | 0.31 cups
Buttermilk, fresh (85%): 291.45 g | 1.19 cups
Rye Flour (36%): 123.44 g
Total (307%): 1052.64 g | 37.13 oz | 2.32 lbs

Looking at the numbers, it seems funny. #14 and #15 dough is clearly wet, possibly over-hydrated, although wet + sticky dough is pretty normal for rye breads, which don't have much of a gluten structure. Also, according to Rose Levy Beranbaum, buttermilk is about 90% water and 1.75% fat, so the buttermilk by itself brings the hydration to ~76.5% alone (of bread flour only, or ~62.5% of total flours), without the water! This means we need to add ~3.5% water to get overall hydration to about 80%, which is pretty slack. So let's try an academic exercise:
  1. Reduce water to 4%, which will make overall hydration ~80% of bread flour (or ~66.5% of flours overall); pretty slack, but less slack than breads up to and including #14!
  2. Reduce rye to 25% (less stickiness, same flavor?)
So here is #16, the academic exercise :)

Flour (100%): 427.03 g
Rye Flour (25%): 106.76 g | 3.77 oz | 0.24 lbs | 15.43 tbsp | 0.96 cups
Buttermilk, fresh (85%): 362.98 g | 12.8 oz | 0.8 lbs | 23.7 tbsp | 1.48 cups
Water (3.5%): 14.95 g
ADY (1%): 4.27 g | 1.13 tsp
Salt (2%): 8.54 g | 1.53 tsp
Honey (30%): 128.11 g | 0.38 cups
Total (246.5%): 1052.64 g | 37.13 oz | 2.32 lbs

I would recommend making both of these, following same general directions as #14, and see what happens!


  1. Heat buttermilk & water to 100 degrees.
  2. Dissolve ADY and honey in buttermilk mixture; let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. To mixing bowl, add flours, whisk to combine. Add buttermilk mixture. Mix on Kitchenaid #2 for 2 minutes. Should clear sides of bowl.
  4. Let rest for 20 minutes.
  5. NOW ADD SALT. Knead on #2 for 7 minutes.
  6. Put in tub, cover and let rise for ~2 hrs, then into fridge.
  7. Went into fridge at 615pm, out 945am next morning (15.5 hours total)
  8. Rise at room temp for 2 hours
  9. Preheat oven to 450F, bake 40 minutes with 1 cup hot water

NOTES on #16:

  • I only added 70g honey (ran out), made up the rest of the weight with white sugar
  • Even in mixing, hydration looks a lot more normal. In mixer, dough clears sides of bowl, but doesn't clear bottom (about coffee-cup size); out on lightly-floured board, very easily handleable
  • Texture was MUCH tighter than #14, still a bit damp and soft, despite 1 hour rest. Crust was also thicker, not in a nice way.
  • Better rise and oven spring than #14 though. My guess is that the yeast is OK, but it needs less buttermilk and more water, as well as overall higher hydration.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grandma's Bread #14

Same old recipe, with a twist: I'm making 4 loaves for the holidays, so I decided to increase the recipe accuracy by weighing my otherwise normal volumetric measurements.

Here's what I have so far:

Makes 4 loaves

586g water (2-1/2 cups)
940g buttermilk (4 cups)
295g rye flour (2-2/3 cups of Arrowhead Mills rye flour)

820g bread flour (6-1/4 cups) (I weighed 6.25 cups 3 times, and came up with 810, 820, and 870g!)
52g table salt (7-1/4 tsp) - REMEASURE THIS I DON'T THINK THIS IS RIGHT!
11.6g* active dry yeast (4 tsp)
340g* honey (1 c)

* these two weights were calculated based on weight estimates found on the internet, i.e., 340g per cup of honey, 2.9g per tsp of active dry yeast.

Recipe: exactly like #11, with the following notes:
  • 1st rise: 2 hours at room temp
  • Retardation: 8 hours in fridge
  • Final rise: 2 hours at room temp
  • Bake at 450F for 40 minutes

  • All loaves turned out close to the same: texture and crust very similar to #11
  • Soft, flavorful, good balance of savory, sour and sweet.
  • One on the right-most side of the oven seemed to rise the most, whereas the one on the left-most side got a tiny bit burned on the bottom and one of the sides at 40 minutes.

  • Check the loaves on the sides carefully for burning at 30 minutes or so; if so, move the loaves around.
  • Cooling in the pan for 10 minutes is a good idea! Then cool fully on racks.

Monday, December 14, 2009

True Spanish Tortilla

Ah, the true Spanish omelette, called tortilla in Spain, is served breakfast, lunch, dinner and for snacks; is served hot or cold; and can incorporate any number of fillings.

I like it pure and traditional: just egg, potato and onion. Sure, a little chorizo and truffle oil can be nice too, but totally not necessary; the "plain vanilla" version is immensely satisfying.

I made this for B's folks over Thanksgiving again; they loved it and asked for the recipe.

Spanish Tortilla (Tortilla Espanola)
Serves 2-4

1 recipe Aioli (recipe follows)
6 large eggs
3 medium yellow potatoes (like Yukon Gold or other yellow), peeled
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 cup olive oil

  1. Make Aioli and set aside (recipe follows).
  2. Cut potatoes lengthwise into quarters, then thinly slice across into 1/8" thick "pie wedge" shapes (a handheld slicer or food processor works really well for this).
  3. Spread potatoes out on cookie sheet, and dry off slices with paper towels. Salt generously.
  4. In a large pan heat olive oil over high heat. Add sliced potatoes, and turn down heat immediately to medium. Cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don't let the potatoes brown!
  6. Cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Again, no browning!
  7. Drain potatoes in collander, reserving leftover oil. Taste potatoes, season with more salt as necessary. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  8. Now, in medium mixing bowl, crack eggs, and whisk until just after yolks are broken (eggs will have yellow and clear streaks in it still).
  10. Mix potatoes back into eggs, and stir gently to combine.
  11. Let potato/egg mixture rest for 10 minutes
  12. Heat a 8" non-stick skillet with 2 tbsp of leftover oil over medium heat.
  13. Add potato/egg mixture (it will be near the top of the pan).
  14. Using spatula, cook for 5 minutes, moving runny eggs under cooked eggs, scraping sides of skillet often.
  15. Put a plate with no lip to cover the skillet. In one motion, flip tortilla onto plate.
  16. Add 1 tbsp oil back to skillet. Carefully slide the tortilla from the plate back to the skillet.
  17. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, shaking the skillet every 10 seconds or so.
  18. Flip the tortilla over again (using the plate method described before), and WITHOUT OIL back into the skillet for 1 minute.
  19. Flip the tortilla one last time, and cook for 1 minute. (Totals: 5 minutes, flip, 3 minutes, flip, 1 minute, flip, 1 minute, remove from skillet)
  20. Once removed from skillet, let rest uncovered 5 minutes.
  21. Slice tortilla into quarters. Serve warm or room temperature, slathered with Aioli.
  22. Refrigerate leftovers; will keep for about 3 days.
Yields about 1/2 cup

1/2 cup mayonnaise (do NOT substitute Miracle Whip!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt + pepper

Whisk all ingredients to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Let rest for at least 30 minutes. Taste again and adjust seasonings. Use as needed, or refrigerate up to 5 days.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Eggnog ice cream

What says "winter" more than "ice cream"? ;)

B. bought some egg nog for Thanksgiving, so I decided to make some other use of it and make some ice cream. Made a recipe from the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream book. Incredible richness and flavor. Sure, they had a recipe for Egg Nog Ice Cream, but I just took their "Sweet Cream Base" recipe and doctored it a little. If you don't have nog, you can substitute using 6 egg yolks, 1 cup milk and some nutmeg.

Egg Nog Ice Cream

2 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup egg nog
2 tsp vanilla extract
Fresh nutmeg & cinnamon, a pinch or two each

In mixing bowl, whisk eggs on high speed for 1 minute. Add sugar gradually and once all is incorporated, whisk for another 1 minute.

Add heavy cream, egg nog, vanilla, nutmeg and cinammon and whisk at high speed for 1 minute.

Cover bowl and put in fridge at least 1 hour.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to instructions (in my case, 25-30 minutes in my rotating-bowl Cuisinart with a pre-frozen bowl).

Pack tightly into containers (it will be pretty soft still). Tap containers on counter to shake bubbles out. Top containers with plastic wrap on surface of ice cream, and freeze at least 4 hours to set up.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

no knead #4

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

No knead bread #4

This is the Bittman/Lahey bread, using sourdough, with the corrected hydration. Instead of 1 tbsp starter, this time I'm trying 44g of my 60% hydration firm starter, which is close to 3 tbsp. Hopefully this will jump-start fermentation. Yeah I realize it's lower than the typical desired 15-40%, but I think it will do just fine; it's a pretty active starter. Added some wheat germ to see how it affects the nuttiness factor.

Remember, baker's percentages are all measured by weight! So if you're gonna bake, get a good scale! For the small ingredients (yeast/salt), you may need to get a micro-scale, b/c a lot of the larger kitchen scales just measure in even-numbered grams (2,4,6,8,10,etc)

Flour (100%): 430.77g
Water (80%): 344.62g
Starter (10%): 44g
Salt (1.8%): 7.75 g | 1.39 tsp
Wheat germ (1.4%): 6 g | 1 tbsp
Total (193%): 833 g
  1. Measure out water
  2. Dissolve starter a portion of the water; then add back into the main water
  3. Add flour, then salt, then wheat germ
  4. Stir to combine, until all raw flour is incorporated.
  5. Cover tightly and set aside at room temp for 18-20 hours (start time: 845p, 18hrs=245pm next day, 20hrs=445pm; my rise was a little more than 21 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 500F, with cast iron dutch oven & lid inside.
  7. Dust generously with flour, turn out and shape into a round. Cover and let rest 15 min.
  8. Shape into a round, put on top of parchment, let rise in basket, covered for 45 min.
  9. Remove dutch oven carefully, lower parchment & bread into pot, cover, and into the oven
  10. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover, and bake for 12-15 more minutes.
  11. Remove and let cool on rack for 1.5-2 hours.

See the photos!
  • Good flavor, more sour than #1
  • A lot more oven spring than #1, about the same as #2
  • Texture is a little more heavy & dense than #2, but it's nice not to have that yeasty flavor
  • Nice browning
  • Crust thickness just like #2. #1 actually had a thinner crust I think.

For next time, I wish I could put the dough right on the dutch oven instead of parchment, which I think causes some steaming and extra thickness of the crust.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

tday salad overdrive

What is it?
  • Baby lettuces
  • bacon wrapped, blue cheese stuffed dates, reheated and chopped into quarters
  • Point Reyes blue cheese, crumbled
  • Basil oil
  • Fig tangerine balsamic sauce
  • sherry vinegar
  • leftover teriyaki chicken thigh, chopped, could b turkey

delish and not a new scrap! T day leftovers except salad greens

Monday, December 07, 2009

standard loaf size

What is a standard size for a loaf?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

making sourdough bread more sour; my starters

Inspired by a post on The Fresh Loaf forums about sourness, I got to thinking about how to make my sourdough more sour.

A lot of the sourness has to do with the starter, and how it's maintained. The "sourness" has to do with the bacteria in starter, which produce both acetic and lactic acid. Acetic acid is what makes vinegar sour, and is more sharp and pungent; lactic acid is the type of sour found in milk products & yogurt, and is a softer, creamier, more mellow sour. (On a side note: lactic acid is a beneficial part of the winemaking process, as part of malo-lactic fermentation in white wines, which converts green-apple flavored malic acid to creamier flavored lactic acid).

In any case, to make a sourdough bread more sour, do any one or more of the following:
  1. Maintain a firm starter (50-60% hydration)
  2. Keep the starter cool, around 50-65F (in fridge)
  3. Use higher ash flour (like high gluten flour)
  4. Feed the starter regularly
  5. Spike it (dough and/or starter) with rye flour
  6. Long and slow bulk fermentation (1st rise) (somewhere between 8 and 24 hours)
  7. Cool bulk fermentation (1st rise) (such as in the fridge)
  8. Lower overall hydration for the dough
  9. Increase the amount of starter in the recipe (the working range is 15-40% of final dough weight, or 25-35% of the flour weight)
To make sourdough less sour:
  1. Use a liquid starter (90-170% hydration)
  2. Keep the starter at warm temp (70-85F) (such as room temperature)
  3. Use lower ash flour (like all-purpose gluten flour)
  4. Don't feed it as regularly
  5. Don't use any rye flour
  6. Bulk fermentation (initial rise) for dough for a short time (less than 8 hrs)
  7. Bulk fermentation in a warmer place (such as room temp)
  8. Higher hydration for the dough
  9. Reduce the amount of starter in the recipe (between 5-15%)
DiMuzio's "Bread Baking" and the forums at The Fresh Loaf have more great info on how to make your sourdough more sour.

I keep 2 starters right now:

1. My original LBB starter, built using Nancy Silverton's organic grape-based starter recipe in the "La Brea Bakery" cookbook. I keep it at about 178% hydration (which is very liquid); I feed it as follows: 1/4c starter, 1 cup flour & 1 cup water. It stays in the fridge most of the time. If I need to bake, I take it out and feed it 2x per day for about 4-5 days to get it back up to strength.

2. A firm starter, which is just the LBB starter but it's maintained at 60% hydration as follows: 1 tbsp starter + 1 tbsp + 2 tsp water, 1/3 cup flour. This one sits in a plastic covered container on top of my fridge. I feed it maybe 1x per week. I'll feed it 2x per day for 1-2 days before baking.

I've been leaning more towards the firm starter lately, mostly because I can work in smaller quantities for maintenance, and it last longer at room temp w/o feeding, so I can bake with it more quickly.

I had a couple other starters; one was a Carl Griffin one that my friend John gave me. The other was a rye-based version that I started a few years ago. I threw them both out, just because I like the flavor of the LBB one, it's easy to maintain and works well.

Making a lot of bread

A great French video about making bread (I wish I understood French!)

According to a post on the Fresh Loaf web site:
the recipe is very simple: 33 kg of flour, 22 litres (i.e. 22 kg) of water and half a bucket (maybe 5 litres?) of starter.
Amazing to see someone work with that much dough.

What's also interesting to me is how this recipe matches up with the 1-2-3 recipe for sourdough, which is, by weight:

3 parts flour
2 parts water
1 part liquid starter (100% hydration)

And of course salt, which will be around 2% (well, 1.8 - 2.2% to be more exact) of the weight of the flour.

Well, what is liquid starter @ 100% hydration? Simply, an active sourdough culture that has been maintained at 1:1 flour-to-water, by weight.

1:1 flour-water starter is different if you go by volume:

1 cup bread flour (using fluff-dip-knifescrape measuring technique) weighs about 132g
1 cup water @ room temp weighs about 236g

This results in a starter that has a 178% hydration!

yeast! I use ADY!

It's important to know what kind of yeast you are using.

Why? Some recipes call for instant yeast, some for active dry yeast.

To convert instant yeast to active dry yeast, multiply by 1.25.
AKA 1 tsp instant yeast (IDY) = 1.25 tsp active dry yeast (ADY)

To convert active dry yeast to instant yeast, multiply by .75.
AKA 1 tsp active dry yeast (ADY) = 3/4 tsp instant yeast (IDY)

I use Red Star Active Dry Yeast (ADY), which I buy in a 2lb sack at discount at Costco. It's very cheap that way ($5-6 for the bag, which will last you FOREVER!); I put some in separate jars: one small job in the fridge, the rest goes in the freezer, where it will keep more at least a year past the expiration date!

Saturday, December 05, 2009

no knead bread #1, 2 and 3

Inspired to make some more no-knead bread. There are many sources for this, and I've made no knead before (from Jeff Hertzberg's "Artisan Bread in 5 Min a Day") and was definitely disappointed. Flavor and texture were both pretty lacking (at least compared to the King Arthur and LBB sourdoughs I'd been baking).

Last week on Evan Kleiman's "Good Food" show on KCRW (one of my favorite food programs), Mark Bittman was talking about his no-knead bread, as published in the NY Times. In Evan's interview with Bittman, he was talking about 4 cups flour to 2 cups water.

#1 He also provided the recipe by weight. I did my own measurements, and got a different set of results for the water:

Flour: 428g (me), 430g (Bitt) (3 cups)
Water: 385g (me), 345g (Bitt) (1-5/8 cups)
Table Salt: 8g (me), 8g (Bitt) (1-1/4 tsp)
Yeast: ?? (me)*, 1g (Bitt)

* For yeast, I decided to use my firm (Columbia) sourdough starter instead of the dry yeast. It's a pretty active culture, so I use 1 tbsp,

I tested my measurements again, and yes, 1-5/8 cup water IS 383-385 grams. So the water weight in the optional listed on the recipe is PROBABLY WRONG, and will affect the final outcome dramatically (and likely in a negative way). At room temperature, 1-5/8 cups water weighs about 384 grams, not 345 grams. This also makes a difference in the hydration of the dough: ~90% by weight at 384 grams, ~80% at 345g water. 345g of water at room temp (72 deg F) is a little less than 1-1/2 cups of water.

So if I do it again, I will have to try it with a little less than 1.5 c of water.

Some other notes about these volumetric bread recipes (which I've come to strongly dislike): my flour was measured in 3 cups, using the "fluff-dip-knifescrape" technique. Packed down flour would yield a totally different result.

Here's how Bittman's original recipe (89% hydration) breaks down:

Flour (100%): 430.37 g | 15.18 oz | 0.95 lbs
Water (89%): 383.03 g | 13.51 oz | 0.84 lbs
ADY (.2%): 0.86 g | 0.03 oz | 0 lbs | 0.23 tsp | 0.08 tbsp
Salt (1.8%): 7.75 g | 0.27 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.39 tsp | 0.46 tbsp
Total (191%): 822 g | 28.99 oz | 1.81 lbs | TF = N/A

Here's Bittman's corrected recipe (80% hydration):

Flour (100%): 430.77 g | 15.19 oz | 0.95 lbs
Water (80%): 344.62 g | 12.16 oz | 0.76 lbs
ADY (.2%): 0.86 g | 0.03 oz | 0 lbs | 0.23 tsp | 0.08 tbsp
Salt (1.8%): 7.75 g | 0.27 oz | 0.02 lbs | 1.39 tsp | 0.46 tbsp
Total (182%): 784 g | 27.65 oz | 1.73 lbs | TF = N/A

How much starter to add? Rose Levy Berenbaum says to add 15%/40% min/max of the entire (finish) weight of dough in starter. Based on the above recipe:

15% of 784g = 118g of starter
40% of 784g = 314g of starter

So translated, the same recipe would work if you leave out the yeast, and add between 118g and 314g of firm starter.

Here's my version:
  1. Dissolve the starter in 1 tbsp. of the water. Once dissolved, add it to all the water.
  2. In a big tub, mix with a wooden spoon, until combined.
  3. Put in big tub. let rise for 20 hours (put in at 815pm on 12/6, started fold 12/7 at 415pm).
  4. Remove, dust liberally with flour, fold using dough scraper.
  5. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Liberally flour dough again, using scraper, fold/shape dough into round
  7. Preheat oven to 500, with cast iron dutch oven on center rack.
  8. Place into floured basket, cover with plastic wrap and towel, and let rise for 3 hours.
  9. Turn dough carefully into dutch oven, cover, and into the oven at 500F for 5 minutes, then 25 minutes at 450F (30 min. total)
  10. Remove cover, back in oven for 15 more minutes (45 min total).
  11. Remove and let cool at least 2 hours.
Notes for #1:
  1. Waaaay too wet. Even in a heavily floured basket, dough totally stuck and fell apart during transfer into cast iron pot. I think it would need to be treated more like a ciabatta.
  2. At 30 minutes (when removing lid) was already nice and golden brown. 45 minutes was really good, getting some nice chocolates.
  3. Poor oven spring (1 of 5); I think this is just because waaaay too wet.
  4. Nice browning on the top and bottom crust, with some blistering despite non-smoothness of top crust (4 of 5)
  5. Shatteringly crisp, cracker-like thin crust (5 of 5)
  6. Nice chew (4 of 5)
  7. Big open-hole structure/texture (4 of 5)
  8. Mild, but slightly pleasantly lingering flavor. (4 of 5)
#2: making Bittman's recipe with 80% hydration and ADY.

Notes for #2:
  • Rise time: 16.5 hours. However, after 9.5 hours, dough had more than doubled (130am); when I checked again in the morning, it was at the same level, which likely means it wasn't rising any more, or was on its way back down.
  • Remove from bucket, rest 15 min, shape, rest 30 minutes, dump onto parchment, slash and bake.
  • Already much better, more dough like when stirring up, less like batter.
  • Still pretty wet; seemed pretty flabby this morning.
  • Preheated oven to 500 with cast iron, place parchment and bread in, cover, back in oven, turn temp down to 450 immediately. Baked for 30 minutes covered, 15 minutes uncovered (45 min total).
  • Really nice oven spring, turned out as a nice round loaf (4.5 of 5)
  • Crust: nice golden brown color, with just a little blistering despite non-smoothness of top crust (3.8 of 5)
  • Good crisp, cracker-like thin crust, with a tiny bit of chew (4.9 of 5)
  • Great softness, with just a bit of chew (4.5 of 5)
  • Good variable medium to large open-hole structure/texture (4.4 of 5)
  • Mild flavor, but I can taste the commercial yeast (3.8 of 5)
  • Probably could've baked for 5-10 more minutes. I would like a slightly darker crust, and, even after 1 hour of rest, still a little damp inside
Verdict on #2: I liked the rise (some of the best spring ever!), texture (softer than #1) and the crust (golden brown). I would like the crust darker. I'm not crazy about the lingering commercial yeast flavor.

Here's the original recipe from the Good Food blog:

No Knead Bread – Original Recipe
Yield: One 1 1/2-pound loaf

Time: About 1 1/2 hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (or a scant 1/3 tsp active dry yeast)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

No Knead Bread – Optional Recipes

WEIGHT VS. VOLUME - The original recipe contained volume measures, but for those who prefer to use weight, here are the measurements: 430 grams of flour, 345 grams of water, 1 gram of yeast and 8 grams of salt. With experience, many people will stop measuring altogether and add just enough water to make the dough almost too wet to handle.

SALT - Many people, me included, felt Mr. Lahey’s bread was not salty enough. Yes, you can use more salt and it won’t significantly affect the rising time. I’ve settled at just under a tablespoon.

YEAST - Instant yeast, called for in the recipe, is also called rapid-rise yeast. But you can use whatever yeast you like. Active dry yeast can be used without proofing (soaking it to make sure it’s active).

TIMING - About 18 hours is the preferred initial rising time. Some readers have cut this to as little as eight hours and reported little difference. I have not had much luck with shorter times, but I have gone nearly 24 hours without a problem. Room temperature will affect the rising time, and so will the temperature of the water you add (I start with tepid). Like many other people, I’m eager to see what effect warmer weather will have. But to those who have moved the rising dough around the room trying to find the 70-degree sweet spot: please stop. Any normal room temperature is fine. Just wait until you see bubbles and well-developed gluten — the long strands that cling to the sides of the bowl when you tilt it — before proceeding.

THE SECOND RISE - Mr. Lahey originally suggested one to two hours, but two to three is more like it, in my experience. (Ambient temperatures in the summer will probably knock this time down some.) Some readers almost entirely skipped this rise, shaping the dough after the first rise and letting it rest while the pot and oven preheat; this is worth trying, of course.

OTHER FLOURS - Up to 30 percent whole-grain flour works consistently and well, and 50 percent whole-wheat is also excellent. At least one reader used 100 percent whole-wheat and reported “great crust but somewhat inferior crumb,” which sounds promising. I’ve kept rye, which is delicious but notoriously impossible to get to rise, to about 20 percent. There is room to experiment.

FLAVORINGS -The best time to add caraway seeds, chopped olives, onions, cheese, walnuts, raisins or whatever other traditional bread flavorings you like is after you’ve mixed the dough. But it’s not the only time; you can fold in ingredients before the second rising.

OTHER SHAPES - Baguettes in fish steamers, rolls in muffin tins or classic loaves in loaf pans: if you can imagine it, and stay roughly within the pattern, it will work.

COVERING BETWEEN RISES - A Silpat mat under the dough is a clever idea (not mine). Plastic wrap can be used as a top layer in place of a second towel.

THE POT - The size matters, but not much. I have settled on a smaller pot than Mr. Lahey has, about three or four quarts. This produces a higher loaf, which many people prefer — again, me included. I’m using cast iron. Readers have reported success with just about every available material. Note that the lid handles on Le Creuset pots can only withstand temperatures up to 400 degrees. So avoid using them, or remove the handle first.

BAKING - You can increase the initial temperature to 500 degrees for more rapid browning, but be careful; I scorched a loaf containing whole-wheat flour by doing this. Yes, you can reduce the length of time the pot is covered to 20 minutes from 30, and then increase the time the loaf bakes uncovered. Most people have had a good experience baking for an additional 30 minutes once the pot is uncovered.
As these answers demonstrate, almost everything about Mr. Lahey’s bread is flexible, within limits. As we experiment, we will have failures. (Like the time I stopped adding flour because the phone rang, and didn’t realize it until 18 hours later. Even this, however, was reparable). This method is going to have people experimenting, and largely succeeding, until something better comes along. It may be quite a while.

#3, which I haven't made yet, is from the ATK web site

Almost No-Knead Bread

An enameled cast-iron Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid yields best results, but the recipe also works in a regular cast-iron Dutch oven or heavy stockpot. (See the related information in "High-Heat Baking in a Dutch Oven" for information on converting Dutch oven handles to work safely in a hot oven.) Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (mild non-alcoholic lager also works). The bread is best eaten the day it is baked but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

Makes 1 large round loaf

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager (3 ounces)
1 tablespoon white vinegar

1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.