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Dec 10, 2009 09:07 AM

Two thumbs up for Jim Lahey's "My Bread"!

I know others have posted on this top, but I had to share my joy! Got Lahey's new book recently and tried his basic no-knead, enamelled cast iron pot method, baking my first loaf yesterday. The bread was spectacular!
Although I love the idea of baking bread, I've never had great results, once or twice maybe, but it never seemed worth the trouble. And I'm definitely one of those people who just doesn't enjoy kneading, just as I don't enjoy running: the endorphins never kick in. This was a revelation. A friend, a veteran (and once-professional) baker, couldn't believe that *I* had made this loaf, nor could he believe the method. So if you yearn to bake bread but are daunted by the process and all the variables, try his method. And if you have access to the book, with not only step-by-step instructions but step-by-step photos, you not only won't go wrong, you won't get nervous.
Finally, I'm a baker of sorts.

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  1. The book is incredible. I love everything in there. Unlike most cookbooks there is so much that's useful and unique in there.

    1. I made the basic loaf this weekend, using a cast iron Dutch oven (I do have the Le Creuset but the book says the oven may be too hot for the handle on the lid). The crust was too hard to bite, and a bit burned on the bottom. I tried it a couple years ago and hadn't done it again because of the same issue, as I recall. I bake whole grain sandwich breads regularly but this is a whole different animal. I read through a couple of long threads about the no-knead bread and everyone seems to love it. Do they just have stronger teeth than we do?

      5 Replies
      1. re: kittyfood

        I don't know. Are you sure your oven temp is accurate? Mine seems to be, and I've used my Le Creuset, removing the handle, and plugging the hole w/tin foil. The loaves have been crusty--a plus for me--but not burned on the bottom. They are, however, very different from softer crusted whole grain loaves. For me, who has always been trying to capture that crust and soft, big-holed interior and never been able to, this has been a godsend.

        1. re: nomadchowwoman

          I guess my question is, what is "crusty" supposed to mean? I buy local artisan breads that could be called crusty, but I don't have trouble biting or chewing the crust. It was difficult to slice the bread I baked, and I had to eat the soft part and discard the crust. I had also thought it might be the oven temp, though; I need to check it. Unfortunately I have access only to an electric stove, although I vastly prefer gas.

        2. re: kittyfood

          This is the recipe I use:

          Yes, the bread is very crusty when it comes out of the oven and difficult to slice but not difficult to eat. I mostly blame my flimsy bread knife and use a chef knife to cut it. The second day the crust has softened, though it can be refreshed in the oven. The nice thing is it doesn't need to be done in a dutch oven. It can be baked on a stone (which I do) or in a loaf pan (which I've done). When baked in a loaf pan the crust comes out softer. I've also varied the recipe by substituting half whole wheat for the flour and adding 3 tablespoons of active gluten to kick up the rise with great results. Now I double the recipe because not only do we love this bread and go through it quickly but the dough makes great sticky buns, pizza crusts, focaccia, and handles all kinds of add-ins mixed into the portion of dough just before shaping.

          1. re: morwen

            Hi morwen - forgive me, but what is active gluten?

            1. re: jencounter

              Active gluten, a.k.a. vital wheat gluten, is sold in supermarkets (Bob's Red Mill is a commonly available brand) and online. It is added when baking with flours that don't have any or enough gluten.

        3. Has anyone tried his more "creative" recipes, such as the carrot or coconut-chocolate? I'm wondering how good they are, or if they were put in just to beef up the number of recipes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: emily

            I tried the carrot bread. I liked it, but much prefer it without the cumin seeds. It makes a nice breakfast toast, spread with cream cheese.

            I also just made the peanut butter and jelly bread and think there must be a typo in the recipe. it's a small loaf, baked an 8" pan, but he calls for baking it at 450F for an hour and fifteen minutes. Even with the foil tent on top, this bread is came out overcooked. I wonder if the temperature was supposed to be 350F.

            The cheese bread is pretty amazing.

          2. Does anyone slice this bread and use for sandwiches?

            Is there a way to get thin, even slices other than one of those slicing guide things? Cuz the last thing I need to be doing right now is sitting down and eating big hunks of bread but I'm dying to try it.. So sick of grocery store bread which isn't good and isn't cheap.

            I'm trying to decide between this one and the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes. Was doing search when I found this thread. Any feedback appreciated.



            1 Reply
            1. re: Bliss149

              My most recent loaf had a somewhat denser crumb than the previous loaves (not sure why) so I was able to slice it (with a good bread knife); made grilled cheese sandwiches with it. But the other loaves were more ciabatta-like in the middle so not easy to slice, but the hunks were good. We ate them mostly with spreads--soft butter, jam, pate, softened blue cheese.