Archive for the ‘no-knead bread’ Category

Wow! My postings on “No-Knead Bread” are among the most popular sites here at Best Room in the House. There is tremendous interest in making the bread and a host of former non-bread bakers have taken up bread making because of the simplicity and near foolproof methods used for the bread. As a bonus, it costs about 85 cents, not counting the cost to heat your oven.

Did I mention the delicious taste and the wonderful crust? Once you try this bread, you won’t want to buy any more bread at the grocery store.I decided to provide a step-by-step photo guide to further tempt those of  you who have yet to give it a try. So, with the added proviso, “I am not a photographer”, let’s get started.

1. Here’s what you need:3 c. flour, 1-2 tsp. salt, 1/2 t. instant yeast, 1-1/2 cup water.ingredients

2. Mix the dry ingredients and stir just enough to make sure you get all the dry flour on the bottom of the bowl into the dough.

3. Add water.add water

4. Stir it up.stir in water

5. Now we’ll let the dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 12  hours. 6-cover.jpg 

6. Presto! Risen dough.                                             8-11hrslater.jpg 

 7. Prepare a floured surface.                                               9-floursurface3.jpg 

8. Dump it out.                                            10-pourout.jpg 

9. See?  Wet and sticky.   11.jpg

10. Sprinkle with a little flour.12-shakeflour.jpg

11. Fold over all 4 sides like an envelop.13-fold1.jpg 14-foldover.jpg 15refold.jpg 16fold.jpg

12. Re-cover with plastic wrap and let rest for fifteen minutes.

13. Now we’ll let it rise the second time, but first, refold the dough into a rough loaf shape (it’s very fluid dough and won’t stay in a perfect loaf shape; it will be a roundish blob) and place on a 12 x 18 inch piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle top of loaf with wheat bran if desired. Cover with a non-terry cloth dish towel. 16cparchment1.jpg    16dcovertowel.jpg

14. Now it’s time for the second rising. After the dough has risen for 1 and 1/2 hours, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with the baking pan and lid inside. Let the dough rise for another half hour while the oven heats for the full 3o minutes. You want the oven and the pot “blazing hot.” 


15. Carefully remove the very hot pot from oven. Take the towel off the bread. Pick up the parchment paper with the dough on it and carefully lower both into the hot pot. Sprinkle with Kosher salt if desired.  


 16. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes. (The parchment paper won’t burn.)

20-cover.jpg   21-bake2.jpg 

17. Remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes.


18. Remove the pot from the oven and carefully lift up the edges of paper and place it and the bread on a cooling rack. Pull the paper out from under the bread and let the bread cool before slicing… if you can resist the aroma of warm, fresh baked bread. (Sometimes, I brush butter over the top and sides.)


19. Enjoy.             25-ummmgood.jpg

If you would like more information on No-Knead Bread, you can check my previous postings here, here, herehere and here

 There is also a veritable wealth of information on the internet on bread making in general and different methods of making the No-Knead Bread. I use a couple of different recipes, sometimes adding seeds to the topping, sometimes adding flavoring elements to the dough itself.

Be brave and go for it. Your waistline may suffer, but the rest of you won’t.

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[UPDATE: I have provided photos of the steps for making No-Knead Bread here .]

Love that No-Knead bread. Still. After 120 loaves since April, I’m still baking 4 or 5 loaves each week. From what I can gather from reading all I can about this phenomenon, everybody who tries it loves it, its simplicity, its flexibility, and most of all, its taste. Who can resist warm crusty bread with creamy butter? Someone with more willpower than I.

Anyway, to continue the buzz, the January-February issue of “Cooks’ Illustrated” has an article about no-knead bread. They cottoned onto this baking revolution and decided to try to improve the original basic recipe. It was developed by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City and published in Mark Bittman’s column in an issue of the New York Times a little more than a year ago. (By the way, the NYT has free archives now. You can find the original article here. There are also videos of the process on youtube.)

The final result of CI’s testing of a variety of ingredients and methods is the recommendation to add white vinegar and beer to the original ingredients, reducing the amount of water slightly. They also added 10 to 15 kneadings thus changing no-knead bread to “almost” no-knead bread. This reduces the holding time to as little as 8 hours from the 12 to 18 or even 24 hours recommended in the NYT article.

I tried the changes last week. The bread came out of the oven perfectly, with a slightly more tangy taste, the object of CI’s changes. It took a total of 10 hours which in some cases could come in very handy. (The 12-14 hour rising time of the original recipe is very forgiving, however. I have had success with as much as 26 hours rising although the dough needed a little encouragement with some kneading to plump back up after 26 hours on the kitchen counter!) With only 10 hours needed to rise, it becomes convenient to mix the dough in the morning and bake it in the late afternoon or early evening to have ready for dinner, nice and warm.

One of the suggestions from CI solved the problem some people have with handling the wet dough when moving it from  the final rising into the cooking pot. After the initial rising time, CI recommends laying a sheet (12 x 18 inch) inside a 10″ skillet and spraying it with Pam. After kneading and shaping the loaf, place it on top of the parchment paper and spray the top of the dough with Pam. Then cover it loosely with plastic and letting it rise for a couple of hours, it’s a cinch to pick up the paper and plop the whole thing into a preheated Dutch oven to bake. No mess in the pot, no need to handle the dough one more time, so no messy hands. The skillet keeps the dough from spreading out too much, although the size of the Dutch oven or whatever cooking pot used somewhat determines how much it spreads out also. I get the tallest loaf when I use a round 3 Quart Corningware casserole with a glass lid.

Here is the recipe as printed in the magazine issue mentioned above.

“Almost No-Knead Bread”

3 c. (15 oz.) unbleached flour, plus additional for dusting work surface

1/4 t. instant yeast

1 1/2 t. salt

3/4 c. plus 2 T. water (7 ounces) at room temperature

1/4 c. plus 2 T. (3 ounces) mild-flavored lager*

1 T. 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 dough 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 a 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 diugh, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let ruse 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. (Note: make sure your pot is oven- safe to that high heat.) Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or very sharp knife, make one 6-inch long, 1/2-inch-deep slip 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, 20-30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.

* Use a mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (or mild non-alcoholic lager).

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I awoke this morning ready to bake the loaf of bread dough that I had prepared yesterday morning, the one that had been sitting on the counter all day. All it needed was to be formed into a rough ball, and left alone to rise another two hours. Houston, we had a problem. It was a “no go”. It had never risen, not even an inch. It was still a gloppy mess, nowhere near the size of bubbly dough that I was used to seeing after an 18-20 hour no-knead rising. I was buffaloed at first. I figured finally that I must have left out the yeast. Duh. So we had no bread today.What a disappointment. I offered to go buy a loaf of the dreaded grocery bread and my husband said “Yuck. Never mind.”I have another batch of dough, complete with yeast this time, ready to go into the oven tomorrow morning. So help me God, I will never be breadless again.This was the first batch that didn’t work at all. I have made some that we liked more than others. I use a selection of different flours, different additives, etc. Some loaves were slightly under or over-cooked, but each of the “bad” ones was infinitely better than the best grocery store bread. Cheaper, too. Like my daughter said, “It’s not like it’s grocery bread at all. It’s another food group entirely.”You must find a recipe for no-knead bread and try it. (Enter the term “no knead bread” in the search window on the upper right. I have a couple posts about it and one or two contain the recipe. You can also Google it and find way more than you ever needed, or should I say “kneaded”, to know about it.)Believe me, I was a bread baking novice just a few months ago. I have made probably 50-60 loaves since May (that’s about 12 weeks ago). My sister didn’t believe that it was that good but she had plenty of it last week during her visit and loved it. I sent a loaf home with her for her husband to try. He liked it also. It’s easy, very forgiving, unless you forget the yeast, and delicious. I know I keep harping on how good it is, but that’s only to encourage one and all to give it a try. 50 cent. That’s all it costs – that and the cost to heat up your oven to “blazing hot” for over an hour. Just do it (my apologies to Nike).

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[UPDATE: I have added lots of photos of the No-Knead Bread method here.] 

In case you are wondering, I am still making the no-knead bread, about 4 loaves per week. I had a week when I was out of town and had to eat some grocery bread when I returned home until I could bake a loaf. What a difference. Grocery bread is just a vehicle for getting the meat/cheese and the rest of the sandwich fixin’s into your mouth. Homemade bread is something else, entirely. It is the excuse for making a sandwich.

I have been experimenting with different kinds of flour, rising times, rising methods. I tried for a few weeks letting the dough rise for the second time in an oiled bowl. It was fine. As I have said before, you can’t really ruin it. Today, I went back to the original directions and after about 18 hours for the first rising, I formed the loaf and let it rise on nonstick foil for 2 hours and then baked it at 460 degrees for 30 minutes, covered, and another 15 minutes uncovered. I also used 1 c. unbleached bread flour and 2 c. regular all-purpose flour. With 2 t. salt, 1/2 t. yeast, a pinch of citric acid, it is delicious. I did sprinkle it with a seed mixture and some kosher salt just before baking it. It is very good. In fact, it’s hard to keep away from it. Because I am trying to stay away from a lot of carbohydrates, it is extremely difficult to make such good bread and not eat it constantly throughout the day.

I think that the best flavor is achieved with regular all-purpose flour and unbleached bread flour combined. I have tried the special artisan flours and can’t really say that it is an improvement. It certainly is cheaper.

If you need the recipe for the bread, it is as follows:

3 c. flour (all-purpose or bread flour or a combination)
1/4 t. – 1/2 t. quick yeast
2 t. salt
pinch (1/8 t.) citric acid (optional)
1 5/8 c. water
Kosher salt (optional)
Bread seed toppion (optional)

Mix together, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place (on the kitchen counter is fine) for at least 12 hours and up to 18.

Scrape out of bowl onto a floured surface. Fold over once or twice, cover with the plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Set out a piece of non-stick foil and sprinkle a little flour over it. Pick up the dough (a dough scraper or spatula makes it easier) and reform the loaf somewhat and set it on the foil. Sprinkle the top with a little flour and lay a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) over it and let it rise for 2 hours.

After 1 1/2 hour, preheat the oven to 460 degrees with a covered heat proof casserole (I use a 3 qt. Corningware ceramic pot with a lid) for 30 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven carefully and drop the loaf into it. Sprinkle the top with a seed mixture if desired and/or kosher salt (optional).

Bake covered for 30 minutes, uncover and bake for 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and the pot and let the loaf cool on a rack. Sometimes I brush it with melted butter. It will keep for a day or two.

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[UPDATE: I have added lots of photos of the No-Knead Bread making process here .]

If you have been reading this space, you know I have been making no knead bread for nearly two months. I make about 5-6 loaves a week, easily enough to keep our family well supplied with carbs. My waistline will suffer, I’m sure. It’s so difficult to limit one’s self to just one slice of warm-from-the-oven savory bread with soft butter waiting to slather all over it. It also makes great toast, and great French Toast, once it starts to get stale, not that that ever happens around here.

Anyway, my last foray into bread making involved adding Parmesan cheese to the dough. I had no special recipe. I just added a handful, probably 1/4 to 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan (just from the dairy case at the grocery, already shredded, but not the green canister of Kraft Parmesan – I didn’t have a wedge of parm to grate myself) to the basic 3 c. flour, 2 t. salt, 1 5/8 c. water, 1/4 t. yeast recipe for no-knead bread. I did add about 1/4 t. powdered onion and 1/4 t. powdered garlic to see what that would do. I followed the rest of the recipe verbatim, let it rise for 18 hours, covered, at room temperature, formed it into a loaf and let it rest for 15 minutes, put it in an oiled bowl and let it rise again for 2 hours, covered, and then baked it in a 450 degree oven preheated for 30 minutes in a preheated enameled cast iron Dutch oven (Mario Batali brand, 6 qt. size) covered for 30 minutes, and uncovered for 15 minutes. Once it was out of the oven and on a cooling rack, I brushed it with butter.

It was delicious. It would be a great bread to serve with soup and a hunk of good cheese for a quick meal. Maybe not with a hot minestrone in the middle of summer, but certainly with a great gazpacho. Hey! I know what I’ll fix this weekend! We love gazpacho!

Next time I will use a little more Parmesan. Today’s bread had a too subtle cheese flavor and I want to see how much more I can add without going overboard with it. I intend to try Asiago cheese also. A local bakery makes an Asiago-Onion bread that has an Asiago flavor that is too strong for me. So I will try to temper my addition of that distinctive cheese for a more subtle approach. I would rather have plain bread and a piece of Asiago to go with it, than have my bread taste so strongly of the cheese itself.

I will keep you posted on the results of more experiments. By the way, the last experiment with 1 cup of cornmeal replacing one of the 3 cups of flour was not acceptable to me. It was too dry and not tasty enough. I will stick to cornmeal quickbreads in the future.

I hope you have found the time to try no knead bread. It is so simple and forgiving. I have done so many “wrong” things in preparing it and each and every time it comes out great. Let it rise too long? No worries, mate. Forget to stir the dry ingredients before adding the water? No problem. Do you think it’s too wet a dough? Nah. It’ll be fine. Anyone who has never dreamed of making bread will find this recipe a delightful introduction to breadmaking. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best bread in the world. I haven’t bought a loaf of bread in over a month.

The only problem with it is that you must have a large cutting board and a good bread knife, preferably an offsett one, to save your knuckles. And also, you will always be cleaning flour off of your countertops. But it’s a small price to pay for something that lifts bread out of the ordinary and places it on a culinary pedastal. No kidding. You will be surprised at how good it is.


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Bread Update

[UPDATE:  I have added some photos of the no-knead bread method here.] 

The loaf of NO-KNEAD bread that I baked today was partly whole wheat. I used only 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, 1/2 c. Artisan’s bread flour, and 2 c. unbleached bread flour. I put no seeds on the outside crust, baked it in my oval 3 qt. Corningware casserole and it turned out beautifully.

I had some with my lunch with a little butter. Very good. Just enough whole wheat flour for good color but not so much that it was bland and dry. Try it. Here is a repeat of the basic recipe.

No-Knead Bread

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting (or 2 1/2 c. flour, and 1/2 c. whole wheat flour)
1/4 t. instant yeast (yes, one-fourth teaspoon)
1 1/4 t. salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 c. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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) on 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 OK; shake pan once or twice if the 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.

A dough scraper or metal “hamburger” flipper makes folding the dough over on itself easy. The dough is very wet, and looks like it won’t hold together. It does.

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[UPDATE: I have added lots of photos of the no-knead bread process here.] 

I mixed up dough for two more loaves of bread yesterday and they are nearly ready to pop into the oven or should I say “plop” into the oven. One of the loaves is pretty wet. I guess I put in a few drops too much water. It is hard to handle and refuses to stay in anything resembling a loaf shape. The other loaf is much better behaved. Not so sticky, is containing itself quite nicely in a round “boule” attitude. The dough is supposed to be quite wet. The wetter, the better, but it does make it hard to handle and “plop” into the hot pan without having it stick to the sides. I need to turn the ovens on now. I will keep you posted about the loaves.100_2164.jpg
The “Blob” Prior to “Plopping”

I am using a Corningware oval covered casserole for one loaf and my Mario Batali Dutch ooven for the other, 450 degrees F. for both ovens. I will salt each and coat them with seeds prior to baking.


Update: They are in the oven and baking, covered, for the 30 minutes necessary.

Update: The lids are off for 15 more minutes, or until the tops are nicely browned. They smell great!

Update: Out of the oven and basted with melted butter. Hmmm.100_2168.jpg


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