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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No-Knead Bread Second Attempt

Immediately after my first attempt at no-knead bread (in which I was somewhat disappointed), I decided to try again. Again, I started with Jim Lahey's recipe (1 1/2 cups of water, as recommended in the video). I used two cups of wheat flour and one cup of bread flour, and left out the yogurt this time. I didn't add any flour.

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water

I made up the dough at 10 on Thursday morning, stirring it up until it was well-blended. Because of several interruptions, I am pretty sure I accidentally added the salt twice. But it's really hard to pick it all out again, and doesn't it seem wasteful to throw out all that dough and start over? It seemed a little moister then last time -- just a little too moist to be "shaggy". But I left it on the counter (I could not resist giving it a sort of kneading stir-down a couple of times) until bed time, then put it in the fridge...

At 7 on Friday morning, I pulled the dough out of the fridge. At 9 AM, I cut it into 12 pieces, formed each into a little round oat-studded sandwich-roll and set to rise on a tea-towel well-strewn with rolled oats, and covered them all with another tea towel. Most of the rolls weighed about 2.3 ounces, about the same as Amoroso's sandwich rolls. An hour and a half later, I preheated the bread stone to 500F. At 11, I lowered the oven temperature to 450 and lifted the tea towel. There were my rolls. They hadn't risen much. Maybe they would spring up in the oven? In any case, I didn't have time to mess around because I needed to get them in and out of the oven so I could get to the bus-stop at noon and continue packing for a weekend trip. So I popped the rolls onto the stone, poured some nearly-boiling water into the brownie pan on the shelf below, and baked those rolls for 20 minutes.

They were lovely little things, but really too small for a sandwich. If I hadn't been packing so frantically while also trying to eliminate ants, I would have photographed them for you. Apparently, they were quite popular -- there wasn't even one stale one left for pictures by the end of the weekend, even though had rushed out to buy a bag of Padinha sandwich rolls. Strangely, some family members chose them over another slice of home-made raisin bread. And my daughter actually made sandwiches on them, folding the ham and cheese slices over and over until they fit the tiny rolls.

Here are the problems I had with these rolls:

  • Last rise failed and no oven spring
  • Didn't have the crackly crust

Here's what went better than last time:

  • More flavorful (I probably doubled the salt!)
  • Uniform texture
  • Crust did not seem too tough for the roll.

Where did I go wrong? Did I overhandle the very wet dough, deflating the bubbles beyond what it was able to recover in the 2-hour rise?

So I am going to try another no-knead loaf. This time I will try one "Artisan Breads in 5 minutes" style, at least as far as the flour/water ratio goes. And I want to try the longer-term refrigerator storage. I don't want to double the salt for flavor. And I don't want a soupy dough or a wet loaf. I'll start with the recipe posted in the NY Times and wing it, using my usual 2/3 whole wheat to 1/3 bread flour blend. I made my usual sandwich loaf last night. This will make sandwiches for my family through Friday, so I'll be making bread Friday morning with a dough that's had a long, slow fermentation in the refrigerator. And I'll be wondering how, with every blogger in the US advertising it, the NY Times is suffering such financial hard times.

Edited on 5 May 2008 to correct spelling of Padinha