Food

No-Knead Bread Diary Vol.1

bread

This is a bread technique I’ve wanted to try for some time. I actually like kneading. I started doing this in January when I moved into an apartment with a kitchenette and almost no counter space. I have wanted to own a dutch oven for a long time too.

Yeast: Unless otherwise stated, I used Fleischmann’s Traditional Active Dry Yeast. I didn’t proof it before using.
Salt: Fine sea salt or kosher salt.
Water: Room temp distilled water or room temp boiled tap water. I didn’t measure my water as I would always just pour enough to get a sticky dough.
Proofing: My first rise was usually 18 hours or more, but due to my schedule, I’d often have a very short second rise for about an hour. I found no significant difference with a longer second rise.
Non-stick Grain: I experimented with flour, wheat bran, cornmeal, oats, and polenta. Plain or WW flour was best because cutting made a mess of the others.
Dutch Oven: Lagostina 4-qt round dutch oven from Canadian Tire. I could not afford a Staub or Le Creuset yet; I would have to order a Lodge one online. The Lagostina is enameled on the inside unlike the Kitchen Aid and it had the dimpled lid (perfect for steam) unlike the Cuisinart. The only downside is that it’s a bit wider than I like and not 4″ high, but that’s alright for now.
Lid: I usually covered the bread for about 15-20 mins and uncovered for another 10-15.

Experiment #1 – The original

2 1/2 cups Organic AP Flour and 1/2 cup Organic WW Bread flour. Lots of water, more than 2 cups to make it stick together.

First Rise: 18 hours. Rested on parchment paper and wheat bran (still lots of stick) for second rise. Second Rise: One hour and still not “done” since it would bounce back. Wheat bran to prevent sticking. I put a square of parchment paper at bottom, but not sure if this helped prevent more browning. Removed lid after 20 mins in oven. Baked for about 25 mins more and checked internal temp: 208’F.

Holey crumbs, Batman! Bottom was a bit too burnt and the wheat bran gets everywhere when you cut it. It was quite brown, but I think this is because I took the lid off early and the WW flour. Interior was a tad on the wet side, but that’s even better for longevity. Taste: filling and perfect with unsalted butter and a dash of salt. Very good start.

However, I found the bread impossible to cut (safely) after 24-36 hours. Due to limited space, I don’t have proper bread facilities such as a box that would help keep it moist.

Experiment #2 – Honey

This one was not as good. I used this honey whole wheat variation of the recipe and Bittman’s metric weight ingredients: 430 grams of flour (mine was mostly AP, with some WW bread), 345 grams of water, 1 gram of yeast and 8 grams of salt. 15 mins covered. Uncover. This recipe has a low temp down that I found didn’t work at all. I had to up the heat and it took a long time. The bread suffered as a recipe and I had to bin it after a couple of bites. I would use honey again in the bread.

Experiment #3 – Cranberry, Orange, and Sunflower Seed

Delicious! Variation from here:

  • 2 (heavy) tablespoons of brown sugar,
  • the zest of almost one orange
  • 1/4 cup cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

I put some WW bread flour as usual. All of this means I used a lot of water, made the dough bigger, and it rose differently. Only used flour to cover. It took about 35 minutes in the oven (15 cover, 20 uncovered). The crumb was more tight, but I pre-sliced it and froze some of it. I’d put it in my toaster with the defrost option. Delicious with butter, coconut oil, jam, and almost everything. A winner.

Experiment #4 – Tomato Cheese Loaf

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (next time, 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (used medium cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons (probably more, didn’t really measure) of shredded basil

This was the only loaf that I proofed for more than two hours on the second rise, right until it was puffed up. I found it made no significant difference to the result when compared to the other bread. As a bread by itself, it was not that noteworthy, but as a grilled cheese sandwich or with soup (especially tomato), wonderful. Did everything the same. Covered for 20 mins, uncovered for about 15-20 as well.

Experiment #5

Redid #3 Cranberry, Orange, and Sunflower bread and froze for future use. My favourite loaf.

Experiment #6 – Parmesan Garlic

Inspired by this Parmesan Garlic No Knead:

  • more than 1/2 cup of cheese I had left over of parmesan, mozarella and gruyere
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of dried oregano

Loaf was 30% whole wheat as well. Good savoury loaf. Amazing crust. The cheese heavy loaves also make great crusts.

Next up:

  • More and more variations
  • Attempts at No-Knead Brioche and No-Knead Sourdough
  • Gluten Gluttony

Recipes of Note:

  1. The Original Recipe
  2. Breadtopia Tips on No-Knead
  3. Frugal Living NW No-Knead Variations
  4. Penni Wisner No-Knead and Variations

2 Comments

  • Geoff W

    These all sound amazing! I feel like this is the kind of bread some of the local bakers make and I should try and make some.

    I like kneading the bread, but sometimes it’s SO messy!

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