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Dec 6, 2006 08:18 AM

Bittman responds!

Check out today's Times for some fine-tuning of the Lahey no-knead bread...

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  1. Thanks for this! I found the second rise had to be longer than two hours as well...

    11 Replies
    1. re: katiepie

      when does the second rising start, before you take it out of the bowl and fold or when you have placed it in the dish towel?

      1. re: ggambuti

        ....and why exactly do we have to take it out of the bowl and "shape" it, when the bowl is shaping it nicely?
        Can't we just leave it in the bowl for the time of 'both' rises...approx.20-21 hours and just turn the bowl over and plop out a perfectly shaped boule into the hot pot???

        1. re: ChowFun_derek

          I don't know the science, but something changes when you fold it around after the first rising. It deflates, it gets smoother, it's just different. And I don't think the bowl really shapes it; it will be a sticky mess that won't nicely slide out of the bowl into the pot.

          1. re: ChowFun_derek

            I thought this too and did try it. It didn't raise as much, but it also was the time I used whole wheat flour. I think I'll try it again. The nice thing about this bread is if you mess one up, it doesn't cost much other than time.

            1. re: ChowFun_derek

              I wonder if it's because the bread can breathe in the towel but can't breathe in the bowl. How the "breathing" effects the bread, I don't know. On that same note, the bread can also breathe on the silpat mat.

              1. re: beetlebug

                Isn't the taking out of the bowl and folding what gives the loaf the fold on top to create that great slash effect?

                1. re: oakjoan

                  Good point. I didn't read the above posts that closely (too early in the am). The folding is necessary to get the cracks on top. But, I still think that (after the folding), the towel allows the dough breathe which has got to be good for it.

                  1. re: beetlebug

                    That's what I was wondering but in the new Bittman article he states

                    COVERING BETWEEN RISES A Silpat mat under the dough is a clever idea (not mine). Plastic wrap can be used as a top layer in place of a second towel.

                    if this is so does it really need to 'breathe'?

                2. re: beetlebug

                  It's because when you are folding it, you are aerating it and redistributing the yeast colony a bit. That reinvigorates it.

                  1. re: rainey

                    Absolutley, do the fold, but I'm wondering if you could then put it in a bowl for the additional 2 hour raise. Also glad to see that Mark used a smaller cooking pan as well and it isn't just me that likes a higher loaf. The pan does make a difference.

                    1. re: jackie de

                      I've been doing the fold and then putting it in a small bowl lined with a towel and sprinked with wheat bran for the final rise. This gives it a better shape, i find. Plus, I find it easier to just turn the bowl over and dump the loaf into the hot pot. I've never had a sticking problem.

                      I've made about a dozen loaves at this point and have not found the bowl to impede "breathing" or in any way to affect the quality of the bread.

                      Here's what I have found:
                      less wet dough gives a higher loaf, better crust
                      wetter dough makes for an airier, holier (sorry father kitchen!) interior

                      Mine comes out slightly differently each time (I've also been playing around with different flours, adding a chef, etc) but it's always tasty.

          2. Poster 'Father Kitchen' has noted in another thread that the salt amount given in this newer (Dec. 6) version is probably incorrect. I have been using 1 3/4 teaspoons of Morton Coarse Kosher Salt, seems about right, so beware that a tablespoon might be too much.

            1. Folding dough is the best way to degas it or punch it down. It serves several purposes. One of them is to expel the gas, which is a waste product, so that the yeast can continue to do its thing. Folding also helps to strengthen the gluten web, as it brings gluten strands into contact with each other so that cross bonds can form. Folding may perhaps also put some tension on the outside of the dough, which in theory would help it to rise more than to spread, but I wouldn't be sure about that. You can bake a slack, unkneaded dough without folding it. Suzanne Dunaway's recipes have you simply pour and cut the dough--she even pours it into baguette pans. But I think the folding does improve the final loaf.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Father Kitchen

                Good points, I wish you were MY father, Father Kitchen!

                1. re: missclaudy

                  I'm sure there would have to be " a Star shining in the East" first!!

              2. 1 gram of yeast? Is that really possibly. I was looking at my "red star" active dry yeast and one envelope is 7 grams. I only need 1 gram for nearly 1/2 kg of flour?

                1 Reply
                1. re: anu

                  Well, it's 1/4 t and the envelope is 2 1/4 t. So 1 gram in 7 makes sense.