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Kneading No Knead Bread

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I've been making the 5 Minute a Day Artisan Bread for a while now with good sucess. My only bad loaf was a raisin bread. The raisins all ended up in the middle - sort of like a fruity version of the old Tunnel of Fudge recipe! I had seen that Cooks Illustrated recommended kneading the Lahey No Knead recipe - not a lot but still giving it some kneading. So, I tried it with the 5 Minute a Day bread recipe. It was great! Not only were the raisins more evenly distributed but the bread rose higher and had a less dense texture (while still being very moist and tasty).

My new problem - this homemade bread is so popular we're going through about a loaf a day ;)

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  1. Lahey's bread is always too shaggy and sticky for me to knead. Do you add a lot more flour when you go to work it? Also, my loaves are usually quite tasty, but they lack that wonderful boule shape I see some hounders are getting. Do you think the kneading would help encourage my loaf to rise better?

    10 Replies
    1. re: jbeaux

      I agree. Mine would be impossible to knead without a lot more flour.

      I have to add flour just to give it the structure it needs to form it into a very loose ball.

      But mine also suffers from flaness and would love to get the very same taste and texture with a higher loaf.

      I just assumed people were using a smaller baking vessle than I was.

      1. re: jbeaux

        What I have found that has made a big difference to me is to measure your flour like Lahey does in the video - scoop then level. If you spoon into the cup then level, it's not enough flour and way too sticky.

        When I turn it out onto my work surface, I flour all over until it no longer feels sticky and I can handle it.

        Finally, for the shape, I use the CI method....let it rise in a parchment lined 10" skillet, then use that as a sling to place in your hot pot - parchment and all.

        1. re: brian874

          The author of the 5-minute bread book advises measuring the flour the same way -- stirring it a bit if it has been sitting a while and has settled --and then scooping. I understood that the reason for that was so that there was not too much flour in the dough. I think it is supposed to be a high-moisture dough to get the crisp crust and other characteristics.

          1. re: karykat

            An alternative approach to measuring the flour is to weigh it. The scoop and scrape method usually gives you 5 ounces to a cup. You can weigh the water too, but volume and weight are the same for water. Rosa Levy Beranbaum suggested hydrating the Lahey loaf at 75% by baker's percentages, and it works fine. The easiest way to do that is to increase the flour to 16 ounces by weight and mix in 12 ounces of water. You can convert other recipes to weight measurements by using the same approach. The Hertzberg-Francois master recipe for the boule works out to 74% hydration. I'd probably simply treat it as 75%. The Tapenade dough works out to about 69%. I probably would round that up to 70%.

            1. re: Father Kitchen

              Father Kitchen - Karykat says in another thread that at a class she took with Zoe Francaois she offered a weight - moisture ratio of 2 pounds of flour to 24 ounces water which is identical to your suggestion. I like knowing the weights as it makes a more consistent result than using volume.

              1. re: lupaglupa

                It certainly simplifies things. Thanks for the confirmation.

        2. re: jbeaux

          Mine is very sticky. I lightly dusted a silicone rsheet (one that Baker's Catalog sells for rolling out pie dough). Them I wet my hands so the dough wouldn't stick to them. When I was done I had to use a dough scraper to get everything off the work surface. It wasn't a seamless process! But the dough had more shape and held together better after the kneading. I tried the same thing again with a whole wheat dough yesterday and had similar results - better rise and better texture.

          1. re: jbeaux

            I actually solved the sticky dough problem by generously oiling my hands with olive oil. I don't actually knead the no-knead bread, but the oil makes it so much easier to do the folding and shaping required in the recipe, without using a lot of extra flour.

            As to the question of rise, I'm still trying to figure it out. Sometimes I get a great rise, almost to the top of my pot, and sometimes it's relatively flat. I still can't quite fathom what makes the difference.

            1. re: jbeaux

              The OP, lupaqlupa, is not making the Lahey recipe

              http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/din...

              He/she is making the Jeff Hertzberg recipe published in response to other with the same complaint, too sticky

              http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage...

              It's confusing becuase OP mentions the CI recipe

              1. re: Jack_

                Sorry it's confusing. I am making the 5 Minute a Day Artisan Bread which is a different recipe from the first no knead recipe that was in the NYT. The CI article I saw recommended kneading the Lahey recipe but I tried it with the Hertzberg recipe (which is also a no knead type).

            2. I haven’t tried this trick but I’ve seen it on a number of cooking shows. When adding raisons or any other berries, etc., to the mix, dust them with flour first. This gives the surface some traction and they won’t sink bottom in the batter or dough.

              I had good success with the CI no knead bread, but I didn’t have any parchment paper, so I used aluminum foil that I sprayed with vegetable oil. I think it probably works better than paper because it holds the circumference of the 10 in. skillet inside the larger dutch oven. The loaf was perfectly round and 4 or 5 ins. high. The only complaint I have is that the bottom crust was so thick it was difficult to cut but it tasted mighty good!

              2 Replies
              1. re: TomDel

                The flour thing definitely works. I do that with nuts as well.

                1. re: TomDel

                  I've done that in batters - cake or quick bread. The problem with this wasn't the raisins moving in the dough (it's too thick for that) it was that without kneading the raisins were all in one place to begin with. But I agree that dusting with flour does work in other, looser doughs and betters.