Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Adventures in Baking - No Knead Bread

Bread Making Supplies
Bread making has undoubted become my pass time of choice these days. I don't remember any other time in my life during which I've baked as consistently. I'm sure it has something to do with the weather we've been experiencing. This winter has proven to be a brutal one for New England. I don't remember the last time we've had to deal with this much snow - so much that we've run out of places to dump it. In any case, when it's bad outside, a freshly baked loaf of bread does wonders to lift the spirit.

I splurged a bit and got a few bread making supplies that I've been fancying for a while now. Among the purchases were a couple of brotforms, a Lodge combo cooker, a baker's couche and two dough scrapers. I was especially excited to try out the brotforms, which help to circulate air around the dough as it rises and imprints an interesting pattern on the finished boule.

No Knead Bread Rising
This past weekend, I tried my hand at making the No Knead Bread recipe (yes, that one) made famous several years ago by the New York Times. I'd read the article when it was first published but will admit that I was never too keen on trying it. The bread snob inside me was skeptical that a formula that simple could produce something worth savoring. Boy was I wrong. Though it isn't the best bread I've ever eaten, the finished product is well worth the minor effort.

I did end up tweaking the recipe a bit. I replaced 50 gram of the bread flour for whole wheat and upped the water to 360 grams. Here is the tweaked recipe in full:

380g bread flour
50g whole wheat flour
360g water at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast (I use SAF)
1 1/4 teaspoon of salt

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients thoroughly with your hand. Coat a second bowl with a bit of oil and transfer the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise slowly for at least 12 hours. At a room temperature of 65 degrees F, I actually like to let the dough rise for closer to 14 hours (it definitely doesn't hurt and the dough is well ballooned by then).

At this point, I do 4 or 5 folds with the dough still in the bowl to shape it a bit. Then I turn it onto a lightly floured surface and do a series folds to tighten the dough's surface and form it into a ball. And unlike the official recipe, I lay the ball seam-side up in a floured brotform and increase the final resting time to 3 hours. (Note: rice flour works great to prevent the dough from sticking to the brotform.)

When it's time to bake, I preheat the oven and combo cooker for about 20 minutes at 500 degrees. The loaf is then carefully inverted onto the heated pan (seam side down) and a few slashes are made to the top. I then cover the loaf with the top pan and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, after which the top comes off and the loaf bakes for another 15 to 20 minutes uncovered. When the bread comes out, it looks something like this:

No Knead Bread 1
The first loaf turned out very good.

No Knead Bread
The next loaf came out even better.

Slice of No Knead Bread
The best part of this bread is undoubtedly the crumb, which has an open structure and springy texture. The crust is crisp and a bit chewy when eaten fresh and toasted the next day. And most importantly, the flavor is very good. I am now officially a no knead bread convert.

On a final note, I think I'll continue to experiment with this bread. Stuffing the dough with lots of goodies just before the final rise sounds like a good place to start. Olives sound good....cubes of pepper jack cheese sound even better.


  1. OH my gosh this looks amazing! I can't wait to bake it, I'm making the dough tonight!

  2. I just made my first loaf of bread on Monday with this recipe and posted about it yesterday. It was great!

  3. Great looking bread - I love the brotforms!

  4. Oooh, this looks scrumptious! I love homemade bread. The smell, the texture. wow.

  5. It sure looks good! I've heard of this bread, but I too was never really excited about trying it- maybe I'll give it a shot.

  6. I did make this bread but I'm back to tangzhong bread, as it stays very fresh for days.
    It does look great!

  7. That looks amazing! I'll have to try the recipe. I think I'll ask for a brotform for my birthday. I've been using old wicker baskets to proof my bread, but I love the patterns that the form imprints on the bread. Where did you get yours?

  8. I just finished up some of my bread. I have to make more. Yours looks delicious.

  9. The bread looks great!
    Can't wait to try the recipe.
    Thanks for posting pictures and instructions. Enjoy that new equipment!

  10. Gorgeous! You have really "bloomed" as a bread baker the past year (get it hahaha I'm sooooo funny) LOL!

  11. Thomas, the bread is beautiful and when you mentioned olives (thinking of rosemary too), now that is something we could not resist! Love the brotforms.

    Hope you are all staying nice and warm.

  12. That's another beautiful loaf of bread, you seem to be natural at bread baking. Speaking of which, I won't be too surprised when you start posting about your adventures with natural yeast breads! Happy baking, and stay warm.

  13. So beautiful! What type of pot did you use to bake it? It looks like an cast iron pan? I don't have a fancy baking pot, but I've been thinking about trying this bread for a few years now.. gorgeous photos!

  14. Hi Ken, I got my brotforms on Amazon. They were about 20 bucks pop.

    Michelle - that is so funny...I'm actually in the processes to training a natural yeast starter. I've named him Fred.

  15. LOL, I just knew that you had to be going that route! It's a natural progression for bread baking enthusiasts... ;)

    My starter is named Henrietta.

  16. Oooh, and where did you get those brotforms/bannetons?

  17. I found your blog via "gardeningbren." Your bread looks sooooo good! I've never tried anything past quick breads but your pictures have made me want to try my hand at it. And I love the pic of your dog in 2 feet of snow! too funny!

  18. Lovely bread! And the brotforms really do leave an interesting pattern on the bread. You have inspired me to try making bread.

  19. Your bread looks amazing, I love real bread. Never made any or heard of a brotform but after reading your post and seeing the result I think I'll give it a go. Thanks.

  20. Aaaahhh! This is absolute torture to a dieter. I want that bread so badly! I may have to have a cheat day here pretty soon.

  21. I have been making no knead bread for a couple of years now - absolutely my favorite weekly loaf. No fuss - gorgeous results.

    Love your new bakeware supplies!

  22. Your bread always looks amazing. I LOVE when you post recipes!! Please keep them coming! :) I just ordered a sourdough started from the King Arthur Flour website, so I am going to try my hand at my first sourdough soon. This no-knead bread looks so yummy. I will have to try it soon as well.

  23. That looks beautiful ~ I can almost taste and smell it! Great job.

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