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.

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