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No-Knead bread
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Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1194
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mike -

good lookin' loafers!

for an interesting change - try a 7" diameter pot - produces a higher loaf than the peasant round.

all the conventional wisdom is "more gluten" ie bread flour so the AP mix is an interesting experiment - did you eventually notice any differences between all bread flour and AP?

I make it only by weight (ie I weigh both flour and water - similar amounts to the volumetric method) with 1 tsp yeast and 1 tsp salt.

I notice the crust looks a tad thicker than what I typically get - but I do 20 min. covered and 20-25 mins. uncovered. I'm going to try the 30 min covered as there are situations where I would like a thicker chewier crust.
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Mike K

Joined: 17 Dec 2007
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 10:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, I can't say that there was anything different between the two loaves. The crumb was the same and so was the crust and the moist interior. The rise was also pretty much identical. I wonder if in a "normal" bread making process, there would be more differences between the two. Your other point on the crust is a good one. I think I'll try the 20 minutes you recommend and see how that works. This is so easy that it's easy to practice and experiment. Heck, I might do that tonight!! I think that the bread really was done earlier -- next time I'll check with a thermometer.
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 9:04 am    Post subject: Nice forum Reply with quote


Very nice forum.I have taken more recipe from your forum.Thanks for sharing with us.

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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2010 4:20 am    Post subject: Hi.. Reply with quote

This is my first visit to your website. Just want to say Hi...!!
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Joined: 02 Jan 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:09 pm    Post subject: perturbations on preparations Reply with quote

I spent about a year-and-a-half experimenting with bread-making technique – baking about one 1½ pound loaf a week. Only recently have I been satisfied that I could reproduce an open-crumb “no-knead” bread of consistent quality. Here's what I learned:

1) I was originally motivated to try to adapt “no-knead” recipes for use with a kitchen bread machine. (I didn't want to use my regular oven in July.) I adjusted the machine's cycle for quick mixing of ingredients, long rise time, and the hottest temperature (about 375º.)
a) High hydration is not enough to produce open crumb. The bread machine does not seem to get hot enough to drive all that moisture off. The loaf sometimes came out soggy in the middle.
b) Shape matters. The weight of dough in the vertical bread machine arrangement compressed the spaces toward the bottom.
c) Overhandling the dough is a problem. “Mixing” is an imprecise term, but stirring, folding or kneading enough to ensure uniform wetting of the flour is probably too much. More on that later.
d) Temperature and specific heat both matter. At some point, I began using the bread machine as just a micro-oven. I did all of the other preparation (including 12- to 24-hour rise time in a wide, covered bowl) by hand. The bread machine could not transfer heat to the dough rapidly enough and evenly enough. That is, the walls of the bread machine probably got too hot at certain times, prematurely hardening the crust and inhibiting further oven spring. I even tried “basting” the inside edges of the pan with a bit of water from time-to-time, to no avail.

2) So in the fall, I switched to using a pizza stone in my main oven. But first, some critical insights on ingredients and technique.
a) Poolish is for flavor; the main dough is for structure. I have gotten into the habit of preparing a poolish 1 day ahead of baking. I mix the dough, water and yeast thoroughly, cover the bowl, and mostly leave it alone at kitchen temperature. Sometimes I scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold the poolish once or twice during the day. In this time, the yeast should be making all kinds of tasty enzymes. Handling seems to produce no noticeable difference in the outcome. More on the main dough later.
b) Yeast matters. For the first six or eight months of experimentation, I was frustrated by my inability to produce complex flavors. (During that time, I concentrated more on bread structure.) I finally concluded that the “highly active” dry yeast in those little square packets – suitable for bread, cakes and other pastries – was probably bred not to impart unique flavors. I switched to using a refrigerated block of compressed fresh yeast that I purchased at a local bakery. Much better.
c) Mix early, then not again. For the main dough, I dry mix my flours (and sometimes a tiny amount of active dry yeast) to achieve a consistent blend. That's the end of that. (I no longer add salt at this step. More on that later.) I then add about half of the water to the poolish. (At one point, I tried mixing the slurry in a blender, but that turned out to be unnecessary. A spoon does the trick.) Mix only until you see no standing water. Add the resulting slurry to the flour. Stir – do not mix – the ingredients only until there is no standing liquid. Dump in the rest of the water and stir again until there is no standing liquid. The result will look awful, with streaks of dry flour plainly visible. Leave it alone.
d) Autolyse. Add salt last. This is the step at which the dough achieves more (though not completely) uniform hydration. Cover the bowl and let it stand at room temperature for 20-40 minutes. At the end of this time, portions of dry flour may still be visible. Fold – do not overstretch – the mixture just a bit to move the dry areas toward the inside of the dough ball. At the same time, add salt, sprinkling some of the dry crystals on the surface before each fold. Do not try to achieve a uniform distribution throughout the volume of the dough. Do not overhandle the dough.
e) Slow rise. Cover the bowl containing the dough ball. Plan to leave it alone for at least 12 hours. It needs this much time to develop structure. I find that my kitchen is too warm (resulting in too rapid rise) and my refrigerator is too cold (resulting in near dormant yeast.) At different times of the year, there are different parts of my house to which which I can move the bowl to keep the dough between 40º and 60º most of time. I stick a thermometer in the dough at the beginning of this process and leave it there until the dough goes into the oven.
f) Don't overproof. I find that a single rise works best for me. When the dough reaches twice it's size (or if 24 hours have passed), it's ready for baking. I try to keep handling to an absolute minimum, so that I will end up with an open crumb.

3) Baking
a) Make a tent. Humidity is a huge factor in crust development. After trying other low tech approaches (e.g., a shallow pan of water at the bottom of the oven), I have achieved the best results by skipping the extra water and simply folding parchment paper into a rectangular cover that will fit loosely over my baking dish. The high hydration of the dough will provide enough humidity during baking.
b) Shape matters, and I find that baking my 1½ pound loaf in a 2 quart Pyrex dish gives me the best compromise between oven spring and final cross-section. Otherwise, the very wet dough spreads out more than I'd like on a bare pizza stone, producing something closer to a ciabatta – great for dipping in oil, but less versatile for sandwiches. Preheat the Pyrex on the pizza stone in the center of a 500º oven for at least 15 minutes. (The pizza stone gains temperature as slowly as it will eventually give it up.)
c) So that the bread will not stick to the baking dish, sprinkle some corn meal onto the bottom of the dish immediately before transferring the dough. Also sprinkle a little corn meal onto the entire surface of the dough as you work it off the sides of mixing bowl. Cover the baking dish with the parchment paper, turn down the oven to 450º and bake for 6 (yes, only six) minutes.
d) I find that the unworked, wet dough, is too sticky to slash before it has gone into the oven. After six minutes, though, it has firmed up enough that a few slashes across the top (and in the corners) will greatly improve oven spring. (I use a sharp, oiled paring knife for this.)
e) Replace the parchment paper and continue baking for 30 more minutes at 450º. At the end of this time, poke it with a thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature is 205º - 210º. If not, give it 5 more minutes in the oven under the parchment. Then remove it and cool the bare loaf on a wire rack for about 60 minutes. (Incidentally, my total cost of electricity for this baking exercise is about 9 cents. [We've got smart meters.] Of course, I still do not bake at the same time as I am trying to air-condition the house.)

4) Ingredients. Weigh everything. (It's easy and it makes a big difference. Also, easier cleanup.)
a) Poolish
60 grams whole wheat flour
40 grams unbleached all-purpose flour (I like high protein 5g/40g flour from Montana.)
6-8 grams (not precise) compressed fresh yeast, finely chopped with a little flour
100 grams water
b) Main dough
370 grams unbleached all-purpose flour
270 grams water
12 grams salt
200 grams poolish
1/8 tsp active dry yeast (optional – belt & suspenders)
about 2 tablespoons corn meal

Here's an addendum to my earlier post, reflecting more recent experience. I had achieved a perfectly nice texture and flavor before, but I never quite achieved the open crumb that I sought until I focused on my water.

From what I understand, “Excessively hard waters (above 200 ppm calcium carbonate) are undesirable because they retard fermentation by tightening or toughening the gluten structure too much....On the other hand, soft waters (10-50 ppm calcium carbonate) are objectionable because they lack the gluten-strengthening minerals and tend to yield soft, sticky dough.” (See .)

My tap water is excessively hard and a little alkaline. I do nothing to soften it, though I run it through a Pur™ filter. I tried adding a bit more yeast to my recipe, adding up to a teaspoon of vinegar, etc., but not much changed. Then, I added ¼ teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar (5% acetic acid) to my usual amount of water. This seems to produce the desired open crumb, and it does not seem to add objectionable flavors to the finished product.

Here's my theory of what is going on. The baking powder and vinegar react with one another in the water, producing a neutral pH. The reaction also produces some mineral salts that chemically buffer the solution – that is, they hold the pH of the overall dough mixture closer to a neutral 7. I think that some of the sodium in the baking soda may also replace some of the free calcium and magnesium in my hard water, tying them up with part of the vinegar.

My direct observation is that the yeast seems to develop more slowly and the crumb is much more open – a sign of slackening in the gluten structure. All in all, a better loaf of bread.

For the main dough – not the poolish – add ¼ tsp of baking soda and 1 Tbsp of white vinegar to 270 grams (=270 ml) of water, stir and let it stand for 5 minutes or more. Do not add any more yeast at this step. Table salt can be mixed into the flour ahead of the treated water, without ill effect.

Last edited by Sol on Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1194
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

interesting write up!

I use the no knead technique frequently - more so in colder weather - for precisely the same reason - hot oven = more a/c

methinks the no knead technique was "invented" more for "simplicity" - something along the lines of a "dump cake"

I have a dedicated plastic bowl with lid, hole punched in lid to vent. add ingredients - flour salt yeast water - mix to the famous 'shaggy dough' stage - let stand for 14-18 hours, bake in a preheated heavy metal pot, first covered then uncovered. it is about as simple / least effort as it gets. after the long rise I just dump the dough onto a plastic cutting sheets and form into a shape I can easily dump into the hot! pot. no attempt at further 'kneading' - while the oven & pot preheat.

I've tried baking the high hydration dough on a stone - got similar results - more a ciabatta than a sandwich type loaf. I 'twisted' that effect to advantage for dinner rolls. 60-80 gram chunks of dough plopped directly onto a preheated stone. covered with stainless bowl for first 5 minutes, then uncovered to finish / brown. they bake fast enough I get more rise than flat shape - but same crusty / crumb bit.

my experience with 2-3 "bread machines" supports your results: can't go there - the recipes must be suited to the (various) preprogrammed cycles and inherent limitations of the machine. I have trashed all the bread machines. I don't even think about going there anymore.

a poolish definitely adds to the flavor profile - the long rise of the no knead technique seems a reasonable compromise. using a poolish for no knead seems a bit on the 'defeating the purpose' side. I do use a poolish for other 'more involved' breads.

yeast as you mention is not "yeast" - from way long time ago earlier research, seems the national brands of dry yeast are carefully controlled to two - three genetic yeast strains. fresh yeast is much more "local" and probably genetically different than dry yeast of any sort. cultivating a "in your house" sourdough yeast / poolish is yet another whole different animal!

I agree, finding the right "spot" where yeast+time+temp is exactly right can be a challenge. in this house the refrigerator fits in a "hole" of the cabinet arrangement. the old fridge left an 8" space on top - ideal spot for rising / proofing. we bought a new fridge, it's taller, no space there anymore. current best option is under the master bath vanity - the (hot air) heat vent runs under the vanity to the kickplate. "just right" for temps - butt not exactly "convenient"

when to add salt is from my experience a debatable issue. a high salt concentration - especially "localized" - is "known" to inhibit yeast multiplication - but I've not encountered problems simply mixing flour salt yeast in a bowl prior to adding liquids. then again, I'm a 'go light on the salt' type baker.....
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Jim Cooley

Joined: 09 Oct 2008
Posts: 377
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When an Italian family I knew built a house they had a proofing oven made. Nothing more than a regular cabinet and some light bulbs for heat. Damn I miss them! Never knew how good I had it -- homemade ravioli was one of their specialties.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dilbert, you are right. The poolish may be a vestige of my countless earlier failures, but I also find that I gain some convenience from a slightly faster rise. (The poolish -- by the time I add it to the main dough -- has much more live yeast than is typical of most "no-knead" recipes.) I start the main dough at a time that I can keep an eye out for overproofing, and if I lose control of the main fermentation, I still have the flavor of a more developed dough.

It took me a long time to understand the double role of the yeast. Flavor development takes a long time, but the gas is not very helpful until the end. Gluten formation (i.e., the "structure") in the main dough is a chemical process that is not heavily influenced by what the yeast is doing biologically -- hence the benefit of cool temps and small amounts of yeast. The longer the proof, the longer the gluten strands. But I had a hard time slowing this down. Even when I was using only miniscule amounts of dry yeast, overproofing was my primary failure mode. Now, I grow those strands for as long as I can, but when the yeast says it's ready (as evidenced by the rise of the dough) -- into the oven it goes.
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Joined: 08 Dec 2013
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Location: Illinois

PostPosted: Sun Dec 08, 2013 5:28 pm    Post subject: No knead bread - recipe used for first try Reply with quote

We are new to cooking and baking. We just tried the no knead bread this weekend and were happy with the results. We read several articles, and thought Simply So Good was easiest to follow.

For future attempts, we want to find ways to make this more healthy (maybe by adding flax?), and try out new flavors, like apple and cinnamon bread Smile

3 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon rapid rise yeast (marketed for bread machines)
1+1/2 teaspoons salt
1+1/2 cups water

Large bowl to mix ingredients
Parchment paper
Oven mitts
Pot that can withstand 450 degrees (we used a stainless steel pot)
Lid for your pot (or foil)

1. Mix all dry ingredients (flour, yeast, and salt) in a large bowl.
2. Add the water.
3. Mix everything together (started up with a spoon, then used hands for fun).
4. Covered the bowl with foil (we were out of saran wrap).
5. Let it sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours. (We've read that anywhere from 11-24 hours is fine. We got busy and ours sat for 22 hours.)
6. If the dough looks 'poofy' and has grown in size, it's ready.
7. Turned on the oven to 450 degrees.
8. After the oven reached 450 degrees, we put a stainless steel pot and glass lid into the oven for 30 minutes (the pot didn't have a lid, so we just found a large glass lid that would withstand 450 degrees). You will continue with steps 9-17 during this time. Start a 30 minute timer on your phone or microwave.
9. Cut a piece of parchment paper large enough to fit inside your pot.
10. Put the paper on the counter/table and sprinkle it with flour.
11. Put a lot of flour on your hands.
12. Look at the dough and decide how much you want to make.. we started with about 1/4 (tennis ball size). Put flour on the dough you are going to grab.
13. Try to take out the dough in a round shape.
14. It's sticky, so add more flour to your hands and the dough.
15. Starting at the top, pull the dough down to the bottom--so that it wraps around and creates a smooth surface. This is called a gluten cloak, it's very helpful to watch videos of this on Youtube.
16. The top and sides of the dough should be smooth, the bottom will have all the ends that you pulled down (watch some videos).
17. Put the dough on the parchment paper, smooth side on top.
18. After the pot and lid have been in the oven at 450 degrees for 30 minutes (see step 8), put on oven mitts and take them out.
19. Put the paper into your pot. Put the lid on top.
20. Put the pot back into the oven and bake covered for 30 minutes. (Set a 30 minute timer on your phone or microwave)
21. Take off the lid and bake for 15 minutes. (Set a 15 minute timer on your phone or microwave)
22. Take everything out and eat your bread! (Be careful, the bread is very hot when it's first taken out.)

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