No-knead bread failure! What'd I do wrong?
I'm almost embarrassed to write this, given that apparently a 6-year-old can make this bread. But mine didn't work.
I started at 9:30 last night, used 2/3 whole wheat flour and 1/3 plain bread flour. I used easy-bake yeast, which is the kind we have here in the UK that you just add to dry ingredients--no proofing.
By 7am it had risen beautifully, with lots of bubbles.
By 3:30pm today, (18 hours), it had started to sink. This was a little worrying, but I went ahead and did the whole thing with folding and putting it on a towel. Waited two hours, but almost no rise. A little rise, not much. I thought the kitchen might be a bit cold, so waited a little longer, but it didn't rise much.
I put it in the hot Le Creuset, covered, into the oven, and waited 30 minutes. Took off the lid, bread was flat as a pancake.
I noticed that in the video Bittman didn't mention the second two-hour rise. Did I read the recipe wrong?
I'd appreciate any suggestions!
The falling back is a sign that, as previously posted, the sugar in the flour had been consumed. That's the natural sugars which the yeast uses as food. When a bread is made with a poolish, the optimum time to use the poolish is just when it starts to fall back. You then mix the poolish with more flour (and maybe other ingredients) which replenish the food supply for the yeast. I would feel rather certain that this is the cause of your pancake. Also, you were probably a little gluten poor in the flour mixture.
the recipe in the NY times *called* for instant yeast. I actually used an equal amount (1/4 tsp) of active dry, which supposedly shouldn't be enough given what I've read about the differences, but it worked fine. (I did proof it first). Probably the long rise time let the small amount work ok.
My dough had sunk a bit by hour 18(looked great at hour 13), and I didn't get much of a rise in my second rise either, but the bread came out beautifully. Was there a big temperature change in the kitchen between the first and second rise? Also how gently did you form the loaf for rise two?
Other than that I'm not sure.
I have never used his exact recipe, but my first guess would be that the yeast had consumed all the sugars in the bread and died. The PH could have changed to make the dough inhabitable but that scenario its very unlikely. Yeast will grow and replicate as long as there is food available, so I doubt that they just died off.
BTW, The second rise is necessary for shaping, so you didn't make a mistake. I would try the recipe again and not let the initial fermentation go for such a long period. I hope that someone who has used this recipe will add a educated voice, because I am grasping at straws.