No Knead Bread – Redux

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!

no knead bread - artisan and gorgeous

Link to Mark Bittman’s original No-Knead Bread post from NYTimes

Here are my adapted recipe details:

Ingredients:

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:

  1. Whisk dry flour, salt and yeast together in large bowl.
  2. 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.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to sit, undisturbed for at least 12 hours. The dough will expand and become bubbly.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

no knead bread - artisan and gorgeous

I made tuna sandwiches for lunch and the bread was soft with a chewy crust! Delicious!

no knead bread - artisan and gorgeous

no knead bread - artisan and gorgeous

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