HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

True no knead easy bread!

As promised on another thread here is the method I have been working on for a true no knead bread. I wanted a more dense moist bread than the Lahey/Bittman bread and I didn't want to wait hours on end for a second rise.
As much as I like the Lahey bread I wanted more for less. Call me a greedy CH if you like!
I wanted an easy bread to serve with the basil and maters coming out of my garden.
Perfect for dipping in a caprese salad.

I start with;

3 Cups King Arthur bread flour
2 Cups King Arthur AP flour
2 1/4 ounce packages of quick rise yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Combine all dry ingredients and hand mix.
Then add;

1/4 cup EVOO
3 1/4 cups warm water.
Hand mix.
Cover container with lid or plastic wrap and place in fridge for 24 hours.
Dough will double in size.
The first photo is of the dough straight out of the fridge and the second a close up of the dough surface.

 
 
  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. After the dough is pulled from the fridge flour a work surface. Tip your bowl on it's side and gently pull the dough from the bowl on to your floured work area. The dough will be a bit stringy and sticky.

     
     
    1. A close up of the dough in the bowl. As I pull the dough I do not knead it at all. Simply roll it onto the corner and lightly form the dough with your hands. The shape I form is for an 8 quart Le Creuset oval Dutch oven.

       
      1. Here is the dough ready to go into the pot. At this time I have had my Le Creuset pot in the oven at 500 degrees for a minimum of 30 minutes. From here I simply lift each end of the dough and plop it inside my Le Creuset. No need to be overly gentle. Today I am spritzing the loaf with plenty of water. I have not had any issues spritzing water into a 500 degree LC pot or with the dough being cold. I do get some discoloration inside the Le Creuset but it comes clean with a little bar keepers friend when it's time to clean up. If you want a more rustic looking bread you can skip the water and dust the bread with flour.

         
        1 Reply
        1. re: Fritter

          what you said bout the discoloration in your LC, that's why when someone mentioned to the person with the new LC pot to use it for NK Bread, I was surprised because of the discoloration in my LC pots from using it exactly for no knead bread plus the extreme heat you have to heat your pot up to before even putting the dough in. I think that's bizaar. sorry but that caught my eye. ok continuing reading further

        2. As soon as the bread is placed in the pot spritz with water, cover and return to oven. Bake at 500 degrees for 30 minutes then reduce temperature to 450 and bake an additional 20 minutes. At this point pull the pot and remove the lid. Check the internal temperature with a thermometer. I look for an internal temperature of at least 190 degrees. If you are still a few degrees shy just put the lid back on and leave the bread in the pot for an additional five minutes. If you are at the correct temperature pull the loaf and put on a cooling rack
          The finished product.

           
           
          2 Replies
          1. re: Fritter

            Gorgeous! So, no second rise required at all? Nice.

            1. re: fern

              Thanks!
              No second rise at all. :)
              I do expect that if you wanted a thicker loaf you could shape the dough and then cover it with oiled plastic wrap and allow 2-4 hours for a second rise. I guess I will have to try that in the future but what I was after here was a bread that was truly no knead and did not require any second rise.
              Fast, simple and delicious.

          2. Have you seen Artisan bread in 5 minutes, the master recipe? It's similar to your creation minus sugar and olive oil. You can just leave it in the refrigerator for whenever you want, up to 2 weeks. The brioche is good, too.

            http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=195

            2 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              They are using a bit more yeast and flour but no I had not seen that. I have not tried to hold my dough more than 24 hours as this batch makes a single loaf for my 8 quart oval pot. Thanks for the link though. I will have to take a closer look at that.
              I'm totally intrigued by KNB at the moment.
              How long is their rest or second rise?

              1. re: Fritter

                The rise after the dough is shaped and taken out of the fridge will be between 45 minutes and an hour - more or less. The recipe understates this time, but I've found a longer rise does make for a nicer loaf. I LOVE that book.

            2. Thanks so much. I hope people will get the idea that baking bread is no harder than making good scrambled eggs. There are lots of different approaches that work.
              The current interest in no-knead breads may date from Bittman's New York Times article, but Elizabeth David mentions the practice in her book on English breads--the Grant Loaf was a famous example. And Suzanne Dunaway published a very find book on the technique about ten years ago. It was called "No Need to Knead." She uses the technique in a professional bakery.
              Thanks for your addition to the lore.

              17 Replies
              1. re: Father Kitchen

                I'm going to have to pick up some of these books! I do have a copy of "Kneadlessly simple".

                1. re: Fritter

                  Then you probably really don't need any other book on this topic!

                2. re: Father Kitchen

                  I found an old bread making pamphlet among my recipes the other day that I must have picked up at a garage sale. It looks like it's from the 50's and it had a recipe for no knead dinner rolls, along the same idea. Mix and leave in the refrigerator for 10+ hours.

                  1. re: chowser

                    I have been trying to recall the source of a statement I read a few years ago to the effect that, by cutting yeast way back and adding 1/8 teaspoon of vitamin C to each 3 cups of flour, you can turn almost any bread recipe into a no-knead loaf, but I can't trace the source. I don't fully understand the function of vitamin c in dough--it does acidify the dough but it is also an enzyme that affects the chemical processes in the dough. In my experience, almost any recipe will work in a no-knead fashion if you cut way back on the yeast and give it a long rise. But some caveats are in order: 1) Doughs that contain dairy products, especially eggs, should be allowed to rise in the refrigerator because of danger of unwanted bacterial fermentation. 2) Kneading affects the texture of dough, so the no-knead version may be different--in particular the crumb may have larger holes in it. If you want a finer crumb, folding the dough several times during its rise will improve the crumb. 3) True brioche doughs require kneading, since the butter or oil is used to coat the gluten strands after they form. At the very least, you have to knead these lipids into the dough.
                    The simplest no-knead breads are "lean" breads, without the addition of lipids or dairy products. Usually they are made with a dough that is moderately soft to very soft. That translates into the ratio of water by weight to flour by weight. 5/8 will give a typical French medium dough. You can make a no-knead bread with it, but it will take longer. 2/3 is a more typical Italian dough. 3/4 is a very soft Italian dough and seems to be the easiest proportion to handle. The protease enzymes so valuable in gluten formation seem to work faster in a wetter dough. The downside of very wet dough is that it is hard to shape. And though you don't have to shape a loaf, especially if you bake in a pan (Dunaway doesn't--she pours and snips the ribbons of dough), the tension imparted on the outer skin of a well-shaped loaf makes a difference in the oven spring.
                    Salt, as everyone knows, is added to control the protease activity as well as to add flavor. I note that the Lahey recipe uses only a small amount of salt. I like a little more--about 2.2% table salt to the weight of the flour. In practice it works out to about 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each five ounces of flour. (That's not right on the number, but close enough. For large batches, I weigh the salt.) He may go for the lower salt rate in the interest of protease activity. But I have not had problems in using more.
                    As for yeast, the idea is to cut way back. The idea is not to add so much yeast up front that it gets ahead of gluten formation. Lahey starts with 1/4 teaspoon. Even a pinch of yeast would work if you were to give it a couple of more hours, since yeast can double with each generation. So by cutting the yeast way back, you give the enzymes a head start to form gluten and to crack starches into sugar. The gluten is ready to catch the CO2 and the sugars are ready to feed the yeast.
                    To me, the wonder in all of this is why no-knead breads were not well known before. I think the answer probably lies in the fact that before the advent of refrigeration and modern baker's yeast, this method was simply inconvenient.

                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                      I've read of the acetic acid addition a few places but I think they were all online and can't remember reading about it in any book. I don't remember details but was never compelled to use it. The no knead brioche dough uses quite a lot of eggs and needs to be refrigerated, only up to 5 days. I made it once. It was okay for no knead but I far prefer one from my stand mixer (which, at least as work on my part goes, is no knead!).

                      I also substantially increase the salt with the no knead bread. As much as I've read warnings about salt inhibiting yeast, I've never had a problem with that. Have you? I used to be careful about order of ingredients but not any more. I also stopped activating the yeast in warm water (for kneaded bread) and haven't noticed a difference.

                      1. re: chowser

                        Thanks, Chowser. Raymond Calvel discusses the addition of ascorbic acid in "The Taste of Bread." My copy is lent out, so I can't check it.
                        Thanks for your comment on the no-knead brioche dough. My impression of the no-knead version is that it isn't quite a true brioche, but simply a very much enriched dough--like challah. (I think someone referred to those breads as semi-brioche.)
                        As for the salt, from what I have read, the theoretical upper limit is 3% of the weight of the flour. I've never baked with more than 2.5%. I think some recipes I have seen have gone a little higher. Elizabeth David typically uses more salt, especially as she used unsalted butter to spread on the bread. She complains that bakers often use only 1.8%, which seems to her to be too little. That seems to be the lower limit for salt for most recipes.

                        1. re: Father Kitchen

                          It is more like challah than brioche. It's not bad but for a bread w/ milk and eggs, I like the ones I make in a stand mixer better.

                        2. re: chowser

                          Where did you get your stand mixer brioche? That sounds intriguing.

                          1. re: karykat

                            I use Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours. I have a heavy duty professional model and I still feel like it's going to walk off the counter but the dough makes great bread.

                        3. re: Father Kitchen

                          OR -- use red wine vinegar:

                          The no-knead recipe that Sullivan St. Bakery (Lahey) popularized via Mark Bittman @ NY Times was for 1/4 tsp yeast in 3 cups flour (1 1/2 cups H2O, 1 1/2 tsp salt) - let it sit all night or longer.

                          Bittman wanted to shorten the time so he played with upping the yeast (x6) and shortening the fermentation time to 4 hours. Lahey didn't like this: said Bittman had "overpopulated his substrate." Jim Lahey "believes that the best bread is fermented slowly, with a minimum of yeast." Explanations why are all over the internet, and I agree. But - the lengthy fermentation time is a problem on occassion.

                          Lahey suggests (in their no-knead revisited video) that instead of more yeast - add 1/4 tsp red wine vinegar to the water - and use HOT water. I've tried this a bunch and it works beautifully. I can make the dough at 10 am and eat the bread for dinner as long as the kitchen isn't really cold. The principle is simple: the acidic environment helps the yeast grow at a steady rate and not eat some things too fast leaving leftover yeast. It's a trick borrowed from old french farm women. The acid doesn't affect the flavor, it gets consumed.

                        4. re: chowser

                          Please share the recipe for dinner rolls!

                          1. re: Fritter

                            I'll dig it out and post it. It calls for fresh yeast but I've had no problems using active.

                            1. re: Fritter

                              The pamphlet copyright is 1942 so the no knead idea has been around for a long time.

                              Here it, No-Kneading Bread Rolls from Agnes White:

                              1 cake Fleischman's yeast
                              1/4 c luke warm water
                              1/4 c shortening (I used butter)
                              1 1/4 tsp salt (I use close to 2 tsp kosher)
                              2 tbsp sugar
                              1 c boiling water
                              1 egg
                              3 1/2 c flour

                              Dissolve yeast in warm water. Put shortening, sugar, salt in another bowl. Add boiling water to mix and dissolve. Add yeast and water. Add beaten egg. Stir in flour. Dough will be soft. Put dough in oiled bowl and cover. Refrigerate for 2-24 hours.

                              At this point, you can do what you want with it but the recipe continues: Pinch off dough and put in greased muffin tin, 1/2 full. Brush w/ melted butter. Rise 2 hours. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes.

                              1. re: chowser

                                Thanks for sharing that. I have been thinking about making some yeasty dinner rolls with whipped cinnamon and honey butter for the holiday.

                                1. re: chowser

                                  dumb question here, where does one buy cake yeast? I only have the dried instant yeast in the jar.

                                  1. re: iL Divo

                                    it's also called fresh or compressed yeast. it used to be a lot easier to find, but you can still usually get it at pastry & restaurant supply stores or from a local bakery.

                            2. re: Father Kitchen

                              Re Father Kitchen above: Elizabeth David's English Bread and Yeast Cookery is a treasure trove of all kinds of information on bread baking science and history. I love that book.

                            3. I thought I would come back and update as I have been continuing to try different variations of this recipe. My current twist is:

                              3 Cups KA white Whole wheat flour
                              2 Cups KA bread flour
                              3 1/4 ounce packages of quick or rapid rise yeast
                              1 teaspoon sea salt

                              Combine all dry ingredients and hand mix.
                              Then add;

                              1/4 cup EVOO
                              3 1/4 cups warm water.
                              Hand mix.
                              Cover container plastic wrap and leave on counter for 18-24 hours.
                              Dough will double in size.

                              I am also now putting the dough directly on to floured parchment when I pull it from the bowl. I spray the bread with non stick spray and allow it to rest for about an hour as my oven heats. I have reduced my temperature to 450 (not convection). When I place the bread with the parchment in my Le Creuset I mist the bread with water. I then bake covered for 50 minutes and uncoverd an additional ten.
                              There is a little trick to using the parchment. If there is excess parcment on the ends you used as a handle do NOT sitck it in your baking vessel! This can prevent the bread from rising or cause a deformed loaf (gotta hate it when that happens). Also if you are using an oval enamled pot like I am you may want to snip all four corners of the parment down to the bread. If the corners fold in on the bread you get a loaf with four indentations.