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Old 12-01-2007, 01:48 PM   #1
ktinkel
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Default No-knead bread: tasty, easy

A year ago I read an article in the New York Times about a fabulous, artisanal-quality bread that requires no kneading. You just throw flour, water, yeast, and salt in a bowl, mix it up, and let it sit at room temp for 18 hours (or more). Form into a loaf, and pour into a pre-heated cast-iron pot with cover, and bake for 45 minutes.

You can view a video on this at the New York Times site. Links to the right of the video are to the article and the recipe. The Times is free to all these days — just have an ad or two to deal with.

Even more useful are the two videos from the Breadtopia site.

I just saw that Cooks Illustrated has decided to do an “improved” version (they add vinegar, reduce the liquid, and replace some of the water with beer, among other things). I fear they are trying to make a different sort of bread altogether, but the article is in the January issue of the magazine, and I don’t think I’ve received that yet. (Or online, if you join. The link is to a synopsis with a join-up option.)

Then about a week ago the Times ran another article on no-knead baking, this one using a short fermentation time, followed by baking on stones with a dish of water in the oven to make the crust crackle. The recipe is from a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, which has sold out of its first printing since Thanksgiving.

I am pretty sure the other approach will make better bread in the long run — the second one uses too much yeast, and you can taste it. But the ability to keep the dough in the fridge for up to two weeks, so you can hack off enough for a small loaf, a pizza, or rolls for dinner without a lot of planning, is a definite plus. And the book includes a lot of variations on the main recipe.

And I found a third technique and recipe, that uses whole wheat flour and seasonings, and may have been around for a long time.

Anyway, I have been preoccupied with this lately, so thought I would tantalize you guys. Now get back to work!

By the way: There are good threads on the first two techniques on the Cooks Forum on CompuServe. Unfortunately, I had trouble trying to create a simple link so am not posting one.

   
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Old 12-01-2007, 02:39 PM   #2
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There was an article just this week in The Washington Post's food section on no-knead bread--must be a trend...'-}}

If I get a chance, I'll get the link...

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Old 12-01-2007, 08:01 PM   #3
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I'm one who hates kneading and I'm not fond of making bread, either. I use my bread machine on the dough setting, then put the dough in a pan, let it rise, and bake it in the oven. But this No-Knead Bread Recipe promises so much that I have to try it. You do have to handle the dough and it'll be a bit gluppy so it'll stick to my hands and the surface, but if it really comes out as good as they promise, I'll endure the stickiness.

I copied the recipe to my Tuxcards Recipes to Try collection and alphabetically above it I found a recipe for Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup, which looks delicious. So I guess I'll have to do some cooking this coming week.

Tuxcards is a Linux program for creating "cardfiles" of any kind of information you want to keep. I have various cardfiles for recipes, computer tips, URLs I want to keep track of, and odds and ends. It's a very handy program.
--Judy M.

   
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Old 12-01-2007, 09:36 PM   #4
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Tuxcards is a Linux program for creating "cardfiles" of any kind of information you want to keep. I have various cardfiles for recipes, computer tips, URLs I want to keep track of, and odds and ends. It's a very handy program.
I've been using Google Notebooks for that sort of thing of late, quite successfully, although I also store most things elsewhere as well ... just in case I need it and can't get online.

   
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:47 AM   #5
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You do have to handle the dough and it'll be a bit gluppy so it'll stick to my hands and the surface, but if it really comes out as good as they promise, I'll endure the stickiness.

I copied the recipe to my Tuxcards Recipes to Try collection and alphabetically above it I found a recipe for Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup, which looks delicious.
I would love to have the lentil and chickpea soup recipe.

Yes, these doughs are gloppy. One trick to avoiding having too much of it stick to your hands is to wet your hands at intervals as you handle it. Flour works too, but I do believe water works better with doughs as wet as these.

I use parchment, rather than corn meal or wheat bran, to keep the bread from sticking to baking stones or pans.

   
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Old 12-02-2007, 06:51 AM   #6
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I've been using Google Notebooks for that sort of thing of late, quite successfully, although I also store most things elsewhere as well ... just in case I need it and can't get online.
I use iData, which is the current version of an ancient Mac utility once called QuickDEX. It is really a small database program, but it still allows for freeform entries, which is what I mostly use. I put everything in there. I back it up regularly, and keep the old backups, as they are plain text and readable by anything.

But for recipes, I just make a text file, sometimes plain text, sometimes RTF. I got in that habit in the old CompuServe days. Now I have a huge Recipes folder. Someday will have to do some clearing out.

   
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Old 12-02-2007, 09:15 AM   #7
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KT: I just make a text file, sometimes plain text, sometimes RTF. I got in that habit in the old CompuServe days. Now I have a huge Recipes folder. Someday will have to do some clearing out.
I used Mastercook on the PC, but finally found MacGourmet for my iMac. I like it better than Mastercook. It's easier to add recipes, easier to search, easy to add a photo if you have one, and easy to print from. It will import .txt, but if you have .rtf, as I do too, you only have to copy it, paste it into Clipping, then double-click to open the recipe importer. You select on a section and click on what section it is and it is instantly added. Very few recipes need much cleanup, if any, after that. It doesn't make cookbooks, but if I want to make one, ID does that. '-}

The fact that it searches well, searches quickly and searches on just about anything is what makes it so useful. I only input now and again a few recipes at a time, so it hasn't eaten up my life, but when I want to make something, I have an easy time finding a recipe to try, or make again.

I'm still thinking I'll maybe try the no-knead bread, but it doesn't tug at me. I've made bread for decades now. The KA was my very first kitchen appliance, after 2 years of making bread with a bowl and spoon. My MIL bought me a Zoji bread machine ages ago, as well, so between the two, I don't knead bread and wonder why it is so advantageous, and why I'd want to plan that far ahead to have bread.<G>

   
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Old 12-02-2007, 10:16 AM   #8
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…but finally found MacGourmet
I tried that once, but didn’t buy it. Can’t remember why, but it may just have been that my hundreds of text files seem to work all right. And I have complete control over the formatting (dimly recall some frustration about that).

A lot of Windows users use Mastercook — what I hate about that is the way it spits out text versions of recipes, with a huge gap between the amount and the name for whatever is being measured.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cristen Gillespie
I'm still thinking I'll maybe try the no-knead bread, but it doesn't tug at me. I've made bread for decades now. The KA was my very first kitchen appliance, after 2 years of making bread with a bowl and spoon. My MIL bought me a Zoji bread machine ages ago, as well, so between the two, I don't knead bread and wonder why it is so advantageous, and why I'd want to plan that far ahead to have bread.<G>
I felt somewhat the same way — I usually use the food processor to make small batches of dough, which is much better than the KA, which ends up over-kneading.

For fun (or maybe the sheer joy of it), I sometimes work dough by hand, in imitation of the Italian ladies who do it all on a floured board, making a little hole in the middle of a pile of flour, adding water, and just working it in.

But the main appeal of the Lahey (first) version of the no-knead method is the quality of the result: crisp crust, open crumb, well-developed flavor (very little yeast). I do agree about the need to think ahead, however.

The Hertzberg (second) version cures that. It uses tons of yeast, but the dough is ready in a couple of hours (maybe three), and you can use part of it and keep the rest in fridge for whenever the mood strikes.

But again, my food processor method can give me dough for pizza in a couple of hours, and if I store that in the fridge overnight, fairly tasty bread the next day.

But I have never managed the flavor and texture that comes with the no-knead method (especially the first). It should be possible — I began to use the food processor because I had wonderful bread made that way — but I think it would require more skill (or care and attention, anyway) than I usually give it.

It is the bread season now, and I think I will make a proper comparison of all these methods. All I want is stunning bread, when I want it. Shouldn’t be all that hard, should it?

   
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Old 12-02-2007, 11:37 AM   #9
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It sounds amazingly easy. How do you stop it going mouldy?

   
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Old 12-02-2007, 11:53 AM   #10
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It sounds amazingly easy. How do you stop it going mouldy?
Hmmm. I don’t know if anyone has tested it in the tropics; you might have to let it ferment in the fridge, but for a longer time.

The second version might work better for you.

   
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