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David Lebovitz doesn't like the no-knead bread, at all!


I was quite surprised to read this opinion.

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  1. Sounds like a bad case of "Everyone likes this, so it must suck" to me.

    4 Replies
    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

      Hmmm...methinks some folks are taking his comments too seriously. Seemed like he was just sharing his personal taste/experience/outcome, not trying to bash the recipe or others posts on it.

      1. re: Kung Foodie

        Thanks for the psychoanalysis. However, I repeat that this particular piece reads to me like Lebovitz is engaging in a false comparison for no reason other than to present himself as a fearless contrarian. However, I admit that I have never ever heard of this guy before and perhaps he doesn't intend to sound as morally superior as he comes across to me.

        As for me, I can walk the three blocks to Clear Flour in Brookline and buy a loaf of bread that grinds this into dust. However, I do think this is a fine loaf of bread for the literally about four minutes of hands-on activity it requires: making this bread is actually easier than walking to the bakery and back! So it's an extremely handy addition to the list of things I can make for a weekday dinner that won't cause me to tear what little remains of my hair out. And what's wrong with that?

        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

          Its also a great option for people who dont have artisal bakeries in walking distance.

          1. re: jen kalb

            AND, it costs about $.25 to make. I HATE paying $5.00 a loaf for the staff of life.

            And now everyone is baking bread at home, it's so great.

            AND all of my friends love it and are begging for more. They aren't bread fiends. I love to please them.

    2. I am delighted with the no-knead bread, but it is flour, salt, water, yeast.
      THOSE 4 *are* the flavor!
      Can kneading *literally* add flavor to bread?

      1 Reply
      1. re: BangorDin

        I tend to doubt it - I thought the flavors came from the fermentation process working on the wheat. A long slow fermentation process should produce a lot of flavor. I dont particularly like the very sour flavor in some of the highly esteemed french bakery breads - maybe if those are his benchmark he wont like this bread?

      2. Yeah, well, how nice for him that he lives a couple of blocks from Poilane. Unfortunately, most of us don't.

        1. You know how people talk about bakery bread getting good after the place has been in business for over a year and so the environment has the right natural flora developed in the air? I think that's the kind of thing that works against the home cook v. the professional bakery.
          And O DAVID, of course there's no reason to get excited about *any* kind of home baking (outside of non-French specialties of course) when you live in Paris. So?

          I thought kneading developed the gluten, more of a texture than taste issue. The no-knead lets time do the developing. Is that correct?

          1. Time develops the Flavor, kinda like a sourdough (which flavor comes from the time the 'starter' takes); kneading develops the gluten. Developed gluten will stretch nicely, allowing the bread to rise & have a nice fine crumb...not kneading will lead to 'holey' bread & rougher texture, more like an 'artisan' loaf. The (very) small amount of yeast in the recipe means more time will be needed to develop the gluten, ergo the more flavor..
            Re: DL, who really *cares* what he thinks...

            1 Reply
            1. I wrote to David and it's out there on his website:

              I made the no-knead bread, just for the heck of it. It didn't rise as much as I would have liked but it was fine inasmuch as I didn't use the yeast recommended by Bittman. I have eaten bread in France and Italy and baked bread from Nancy Silverton's book, and I think you probably used the wrong kind of flour from the photos I saw, either it was too much wheat or for some other reason - French and Italian flours are different from U.S. flours, as I've discovered. At any rate, anything that gives people confidence and shows them the way to better bread is just fine and doesn't need to be dengrated. My loaf had real taste, some crunch, good tasty crumb, rivaled some of the natural levain and sourdoughs I've tasted, and was not that hard to make. I detect some smugness there, also, in I moved to Paris... Having been in Paris that is probably as smug as my saying, I moved to Orange County...

              1. I, too, made the no-knead bread. (Well, to be accurate, my other half made it. I supervised.) I actually agree with David in that it is a tad flavorless. Morever, I found the texture of the crumb to be leathery, and it was utterly inabsorbent, which made it a poor companion to a nice hearty soup. I'm not saying we wouldn't try it again, and it may well have good applications. I love the hard crust and the airiness of the crumb, so perhaps it just needs some finessing.

                1. I think he's missing the point.

                  Is the no knead bread the epitome of bread? No. It's not as good as the good stuff at my local groceries (we have a lot of good bread in my city). No one is saying it is the best bread in the world.

                  BUT, it is fantastic for what it is-a very low effort homemade bread, made in a regular oven. Obviously if you're comparing it to Poilane it won't come out ahead, but compared to other bread most of us make in our kitchens, or when you consider the fact that most of us DON'T ever make fresh bread, it's great.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: christy319

                    ...and it DOES make terrific toast!!!

                    1. re: ChowFun_derek

                      Yes, I find that I only like this bread toasted. I agree w/ Hedonia above that it is leathery; I wish the crumb were more fine and easy to slice through. A good loaf of bread has to be good untoasted in my world, so I am still not satisfied w/ this no-knead bread which I've made about 5 times. I tend to agree w/ David L. as well, but it's much easier for him to denounce this bread when he lives in the bread capital of the world.

                      I think the best thing about this no-knead phenomena is that it's getting people like me to start baking bread at home. Now I want to try my hand at traditional kneaded bread to compare the results...

                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        I agree--it got me baking crusty bread which I thought would be too hard. And, I have ventured out and made regular bread. It's a lot more work (unless you have a stand mixer in which case it would be easy) but I really liked the results. Check out the Cooks Illustrated rustic country bread for comparison.

                  2. I don't see why this is generating such anger. The man made an honest attempt at baking this loaf of bread (several attempts, actually), and didn't like the results. So what?

                    If you read his blog faithfully (as I do) then you'd recognize that the whole "Then move to Paris, as I had to do" was meant to be a light joke. Any other mention of how close he lives to Poilane is not meant to brag, but to show how genuinely grateful he is that he could move to Paris.

                    Don't bash a man after reading ONE entry that he wrote, especially if you've never heard of him before. (Does this mean that you've never heard of Chez Panisse either?) He generously shares recipes that he's previously published in his cookbooks, which is really nice of him. And read his blog archives! He's an entertaining writer.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: smq123

                      Oh, is this guy part of the long list of folks whose ideas Alice Waters has taken credit for?

                    2. I was just *surprised*, not angry (I am OP).
                      He said it had NO flavor, none. That surprised me, since the bread seems popular. (I do love reading his blog.)