Thursday, January 24, 2008

No Knead Bread

I originally had seen an article in the NY Times by Marc Bittman about bread that pretty much does all the work itself, called no knead bread. This is quite appealing for home bakers because it produces a very well hydrated bread that is chewy and a lot like the artisan loaves you can buy. The closest you can come at home using a standard oven. The trick is using a cast iron pot or a dutch oven with a lid, and heating the pot in the oven and then putting the bread into it, and putting the lid back on. This helps to get the a nice golden crunchy crust to form that you normally get from a professional deck oven.
I was reintroduced to the idea when I was over at a friends house and she made it for dinner, and it was GREAT.
So last weekend I thought I would give it a try, using all whole wheat flour to see what would happen. I included some vital wheat gluten which will help to keep the bread from getting so dense and hopefully produce results comparable to what I had experienced with all white flour. It was very easy, required very little attention and as you can see from the picture, was quite successful. It actually, almost didn't make it into the oven, I was keeping it in the oven during most of the 18 hour fermentation period since our house has been so cold lately. I knew putting this into the oven could possibly result into a disaster later on (like forgetting to take it out of the oven before pre heating it... :). So low and behold, I was preheating the oven for some pizza I was making (will post that soon) and I had it as high as it could go and about 10 minutes later I started to smell plastic! I quickly pulled it from the oven, and took off all the plastic (which luckily hadn't gotten near the dough yet) and then took the temperature of the dough to make sure it wasn't too hot yet (yeast is dead after 140 degrees, but you don't really want to get anywhere near that until you are baking it). Luckily it was only at 70 with a pretty crusty top. So I peeled the top off, and proceeded with the recipe which still turned out great, just a little bit smaller than it would have been. I won't bother writing all the directions down, the article (link below) provides great step by step directions but I did want to post my ingredient modifications... by all means if you prefer white bread or want just a little wheat you could use the printed recipe directly or probably substitute 1/3 of the flour with whole wheat flour and no other modifications. The only thing I would do differently next time is add some more salt, my bread came out a little bland. I will be trying this again soon and will post how much salt I end up putting in (probably 1 3/4 tsp instead of 1 1/4 tsp).

No Knead 100% Whole Wheat Bread
adapted from New York Times article by Mark Bittman (which was adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery)

3 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups water+ 1 TBS
3 TBS vital wheat gluten

Try it and let me know what you think! This is by far the easiest and most low maintenance bread I have made at home with such great results!


Melanie said...

I LOVE the no-knead bread recipe and make it often...but was pleased to see you try it with whole wheat (so I don't have to be the guinea pig!) sounds like a success so I'll have to try it soon with whole wheat.

Welcome to the Daring Bakers this month!

Melanie said...

By the way, your photographs are really, really amazing!