My first real experience with homemade bread was no-knead bread was over two and half years ago. I found it terribly sticky & very difficult to work with every time I tried it, and I gave up and haven’t tried again in a very long time.
I stopped messing with no-knead, and concentrated on mixing my bread dough with the bread machine.
But I’ve been getting bored with my bread lately, wanting a more “artisan” bread, so last night, I decided to give no-knead one more shot. After almost 3 years of dough-handling experience, you’d think it would be a piece of cake, right?
Yes, it’s still a super sticky mess, but I’ve learned over the years, that water, not flour is the key for handling dough.
I always make sure my (clean) hands are wet, and I’ve found it’s a lot easier to shape my bread loaves. I admit, this dough is way more stickier than normal and still difficult to handle, but I did it!
Link to Mark Bittman’s original No-Knead Bread post from NYTimes
Here are my adapted recipe details:
2 cups AP flour
1 cup Whole Wheat flour
1-1/4 tsp salt
approx 1/3 tsp active dry yeast (if using instant yeast, use only 1/4 tsp)
Directions and Notes:
- Whisk dry flour, salt and yeast together in large bowl.
- Add water and using a wooden spoon, mix until blended – the original recipe suggests 1-5/8 cups of water (which translates to 1-1/2 +2Tbsp of water) – I found it wasn’t enough so I added more water to ensure it was a “shaggy mess” of dough.
- Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to sit, undisturbed for at least 12 hours. The dough will expand and become bubbly.
- After its all-day or overnight rest, using wet hands, sweep and scoop the dough from the edges of the bowl. It’s going to be a sticky, hard-to-handle mess, but do your best.
- Wet hands again, and carefully pick up dough, shaping it into a round loaf. Place it (flat) on a large piece of parchment paper. Lightly sprinkle a little flour (whole wheat or white) on top. Allow to rest/proof for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.
- A few minutes before the dough is ready, set oven to 450F and place a heat-proof covered baking pot inside (enameled cast iron is best). Original no-knead recipes online state to heat oven & pot for 30 minutes, but I find that to be a energy waste, plus it’s not good heat an empty pot for too long. I have found that it works just as well, with 10-15 minutes of preheat time
- Carefully remove hot pot and gently transfer the dough to the pot, keeping the parchment under the dough and in the pot. Cover and bake for 20-30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes. I baked for 20 minutes covered, and 20 minutes uncovered.
- Remove bread from pot, allow to cool on rack, then eat and enjoy!
I’ll probably try 2 cups of whole wheat and 1 cup of AP flour next, and eventually work up to 2-1/2 WW & 1/2 cup AP. I know I messed with 100% whole wheat no-knead breads in the past, and it really wasn’t great, but I wasn’t as experienced, so we’ll see how it goes.
UPDATE 2013/02/13: I’ve tried 1 cup AP flour and 2 cups whole wheat and it makes a denser loaf. I’m happier with a 50/50 mix but I’ll keep experimenting. I’ve also found that its easier to keep a tighter bread shape when I use my 2 quart cast iron pot for proofing (with parchment) and then transfer the dough with the parchment to my larger 4 quart cast iron. It helps keep the bread from spreading out while it’s proofing.
I made tuna sandwiches for lunch and the bread was soft with a chewy crust! Delicious!