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Jul 19, 2010 03:50 PM

Now that I've mastered no-knead bread, is it all downhill from here?

The subject says it all.

The sort of soft crusted loaf pan bread that would have thrilled me before just doesn't cut it anymore, now that I regularly produce beautiful, crispy, deep golden brown crust with a large crumb, spongy, chewy interior.

Since I don't have a professional steam injected oven, where is there to go with my bread baking?

Mr Taster

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  1. My next step after the no-knead was diving into the Bread Baker's Apprentice. I actually sat with the book and read all his hints, suggestions and admonishments [about half the book] and learned a lot about making bread. And then I dove into the most hydrated formula in the book, the Pain Ancienne, and I haven't turned back.

    Mr. Reinhart has specific instructions on the "hearth method" which is an adaptation of the steam injection idea for the home cook. Is it absolutely identical? No. Are my artistinal breads as good or better than most local bakeries? Oh yes, and at a fraction of the price.

    I have expanded into creating my own barms for true NY Sourdough ryes, soft and delicious dinner rolls, ciabattas and the holy grail [besides perfect baguettes] Bagels. This book is not for someone who wants to start making bread at 2pm for that evening's dinner, but I think it is perfect for anyone that really wants to investigate the art of bread baking using slow methods to develop real flavor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: smtucker

      Great report! I've been loving CI's ANKB, but feel ready to take on the challenges in BBA. I'm going to start with a sourdough.
      I'll still be making the almost no knead tho, that's for sure. Already, this is as good as bread I buy that costs far, far more.

    2. +1 on the BBA recommendation; It's very well written, with strong technical infomation; it's intelligent and approachable with patient and thorough explanations, great bread formulas and some pretty good photos, to boot. Even if you never bake from it, it's a very good read.

      Also, I may have passed this link onto you in previous posts ( 've given it to a number of bread bakers with questions); it's a good resource:

      5 Replies
      1. re: bushwickgirl

        Hi bushwickgirl, I've looked at this website before and it does have some interesting information. However, I just can't get past all the photos of small crumb, pale crusted breads on that site. After reading the site for about 30 minutes, I'm left wondering the same thing... can any other home recipe live up to the glory of no-knead bread?

        Mr Taster

        1. re: Mr Taster

          Yes, but in a different way. I can get good results (have tried many methods) from my oven but does it compare to my favorite bakeries? Honestly, no. I can't get that same crisp crustiness but home made is still far better than most of the bread you can buy, even from most bakeries. Not the best but still excellent. I compare it to home made pizza. What I do at home can't compare to the best wood burning stove places but it's still better than most of the pizza out there. What you can control is the quality of ingredients and the technique and that can be better than places that have superior ovens. FWIW, I've made nkb and CI's country rustic bread and brought it to a party as a taste test. The knb had a better crust but the country rustic bread was so hearty--it was split on which was the favorite.

          What I've found I can make, just as good as my favorite places, are breads like focaccia where you don't need that steam injection oven, or bagels. Try BBA's bagels and you'll never buy bagels again (unless you live in NYC maybe).

          1. re: Mr Taster

            I have seen all sorts of lovely open crumb, crusty exterior, etc., photos/formulas of loaves of bread at thefreshloaf; the website is very large; I could spend 30 minutes a day reading it and not feel like I've gotten very far into it.

            As chowser wrote, "...get good results...Yes, but in a different way."

        2. Yes, your life is over. Time to hang it up and just drown your sorrows in a loaf of squeezable Wonder Bread :)

          If you have a backyard, you could build your own oven. Bernard Clayton's Complete Book of Breads has instructions for building an adobe oven. My uncle actually built an oven for my aunt (outdoors and wood-fired). She bakes a dozen loaves at a time and is probably one of the most popular people in her neighborhood! I've not seen it, as they live in southern Germany and I haven't been over for a couple of years, but on my next visit, I look forward to seeing it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nofunlatte

            If only I had a backyard... I would do wonderful things. Wonderful, glorious, dangerously delicious things.

            Mr Taster

          2. I also went from no-knead (but I cheated, since I couldn't STAND not kneading it!) to Bread Baker's Apprentice.

            Just yesterday I made his Italian bread recipe and his cinnamon buns. Both were excellent, and completely successful (ok, so one of the loaves was slightly over-proofed...but SOOOO close to perfect!). Had I tried either recipe six months ago, before I had some experience, I would have failed. His technique is key to making his breads, and it is tricky. He recommends visualising the entire process to make sure you don't miss anything and that you're fully prepared. I couldn't do that until now.

            The difference is taste is phenomenal. The no-knead bread is good, and often better than the crap you can buy at the supermarket, but BBA gives you bread that has a deeper flavour profile and has so much more character.

            Give it a try. Then report back. :-)

            1. Artisan Bread in 5 mins a day (book and recipes found online - everywhere) is far superior to no knead.

              Much easier dough to work with, much better taste, no pots and lids to deal with, similar result. I'll never bake no knead again unless I just happen need a reason to keep myself busy for 18 hours.