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:


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

Baking Bread Blindfolded!

Ha! Well, the title is a bit misleading. I don’t think I could bake bread blindfolded, but I do have my base recipe for bread memorized. I am so proud of myself!

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup plus 3 Tbsp of water (optionally includes 1-2 Tbsp of honey or molasses or OJ)
12 oz of flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 – 2 tsp instant yeast

That’s been my base recipe for making bread dough in the bread machine for months, and I can’t believe I can throw the ingredients in without looking at my notebook! Never in a million years would I think I’d be saying that!

I’ve always hated baking, too much precise measuring! But now I actually have a sort-of routine and it’s so much easier. I am starting to understand the whole process, and am having a little bit of fun too! Ha! Who would have thunk it!

Cookbook Review: The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

I am sad because it’s time to return my copy of The Bread Bible (by Rose Levy Beranbaum) to the library tomorrow.

Even though the book concentrates on white flour instead of whole wheat flour, I learned so much from reading the Bread Bible. The first 91 pages are full of so much good information – great for those just learning to bake bread.

There are sections on various Mixing and Kneading techniques: By hand, bread machine, stand mixer, food processor, and spiral mixer. She lists the different pros and cons for each method. I really learned a lot from the Bread Machine section (pg 48-49).

I also was introduced to “autolyse” which is the technique of mixing flour and water and allowing it to sit for 20 minutes or more.

The book has helpful illustrations for turning/folding dough: The business letter fold and the dough package fold. Also illustrations for shaping dough: round (boule), rectangle, torpedo (batard), baguette, and braiding.

I didn’t try any personally, but I enjoyed reading through the recipes. I wish it was geared more toward healthier whole grains, but it looks like she really thinks processed white flour is the only way to bake really good bread. I dunno, it’s too bad.

I really liked the last two chapters (starting page 543): Ingredients and Equipment. I hadn’t even heard of some ingredients like Kamut and Triticale. The equipment chapter starts out with the “Bakers Dozen” essential pieces, most of which I already possessed, but some I didn’t feel were very important like a heavy duty mixer and a dough rising container. But I really enjoyed browsing through all the cool baking equipment!

There were a few sections of color photos interspersed through the book in between chapters, but I really love cookbooks with photos on the same page as the recipe. I did appreciate the various illustrations in the book. I read Rose’s comment on the Fresh Loaf web site that the illustrations were drawn from photographs, so they are very realistic.

So much good information, I really hate to let the book go. I don’t know yet that I’ll buy a copy for myself. I will have to wait until I finish reading the other baking books I borrowed and decide which one I love the most. But I have a feeling that I will be borrowing it again, and I highly recommend The Bread Bible either for purchase or borrowed from the library to anyone else wanting to learn about the basics of baking bread.

Last Note: Rose Levy Beranbaum has a web site: Real Baking With Rose that includes book errata – I guess there were a lot of recipe errors, so it’s good that she has corrections available. Her site has a lot of baking information as well. Wow, there’s just so much to learn, and not enough time to learn it all! But it’s exciting to try!

I love reading cookbooks, like some people love reading novels! I am inspired by recipes, and enjoy learning ideas from cookbooks; I like putting my own spin on a recipe rather than exactly following it. Please keep in mind that my opinions might be completely different from the other home cooks.

Bread! Another Whack at Bread!

Today I baked bread! Hmm it was about 90 ° and I decided to bake! Ha! But I’m glad I did!

It was both positive and problematic, but I remembered “no failures, only lessons” – and I know I will get better next time with the lessons learned from this time.

I couldn’t decide which recipe to follow in all the books borrowed from the library, but I settled on “The Easiest 100% Whole Wheat Bread Ever” recipe on page 180 of the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book.

Since the King Arthur Flour staff praises the use of a bread machine, I was excited to try the “dough” setting on my Breadman Bread machine.

The recipe looked so easy, and I had all the ingredients, except for the orange juice, but it stated that water could be substituted. I took my time, making sure I weighed the flour and measured the water and molasses correctly.

Continue reading “Bread! Another Whack at Bread!”