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Nov 1, 2010 05:44 PM

No Knead Bread: Question After Numerous Attempts

Hello, I love this site and I finally joined. I am not an experienced baker by any means.

I have been making Bittmans no knead bread over the last little while and either I am making a mistake or this is how it is supposed to be?

I can get a great looking loaf, nice bubbles and a delicious crust... but the inside is rubber like and gummy. (strangely enough I still can't stop from eating half a loaf in a sitting).

I would describe the center as almost like an english muffin. (in appearance and texture).

I have made a number loaves and have started a fermenting assembly line in order to have the 18 hr dough ready for yet another test bake.

Here is some more info:

• I am baking a loaf tonight and am going to let it cool for at least an hour or more to ensure cutting it open too early before being fully cooled is not the cuplrit

• I have only cooked it at 450 (trying 500 tonight). I have even increased the cooking time substantially (beyond 45 minutes plus and then opening the lid for 15 minutes after that) and still no luck.

• I am using a 3.5 qt dutch oven and it seems to work great and does not seem too small

• My yeast is not expired according to the label but it has sat "open" in the fridge for almost 1 yr. Perhaps I am not using the right yeast? (I will have to get back to you on the type or I can look it up)

• When I complete the 2 hr rising stage before baking my dough does not increase size that much. I would say it maybe increases at most 25%. It does however, expand in size a fair amount during the 18hr fermentation stage and does seem to be a nice looking dough.

Any help? I have read a lot of posts here and elsewhere and still no luck in figuring this out fully. Please help! It tastes delicious so far despite my issue and I look forward to impressing everyone with the bread I

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  1. I think you're slicing it too soon. If you put your hand on top of the loaf and feel any heat at all, wait.

    1. I'm not thrilled with the Mark Bittman version of the technique. The original Jim Lahey process is much better IMO.

      Forget about baking time - check the internal temperature of your loaf before placing it on the cooling rack. My target internal temp. for this bread is 200 - 205 degrees.

      1. I have never had less than outstanding success with this recipe. It does produce a moist, open crumbed loaf. Are you sure that you were not expecting a dryer and tighter crumbed bread? And as pikawicca suggests, certainly wait until it is cool to slice it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: mangeur

          I agree, the bread (at least the Lahey bread I make) is moist and has large open structure. I find it desirable. Not sure what is going on because I haven't tried the Bittman method yet.

        2. I'm looking forward to reading the responses to this post, because I too have only gotten weird, gummy breads from this technique. Even after the bread is cooled, the texture and the smell of the bread is strange. My best guess is that I'm over hydrating the dough somehow. Or maybe my kitchen is too cool and the rising isn't working quite right?

          Blurrytree, I salute your industry in getting a bread pipeline going!

          6 Replies
          1. re: Karen_Schaffer

            I make the bread exactly as directed by this recipe: After an 18 hour rise, I do stretch the dough up and over itself several times, rather over emphasizing the recommended fold. The resulting loaves have been universally successful. I have departed from this recipe to make superb raisin bread, seaweed bread to accompany fish dishes, multi-grain and seeded versions. It's my one can't fail success story.

            Here, in fact, is my first attempt.

            1. re: mangeur

              mmmm seaweed bread. What kind of seaweed? Please tell all. I tried cinnamon raisin bread yesterday and it came out a bit too dark to my taste. I'll try lowering temp/time for the next batch during the uncovered phase because it looked great when I took the lid off. I only used 3/4 tsp of cinnamon and I think I need more. I'm still reading through all the no knead bread threads and if a flavour variations thread has not been started I'll ask the question in a new thread.

            2. re: Karen_Schaffer

              < Even after the bread is cooled, the texture and the smell of the bread is strange.>

              I wonder if you are letting the dough rise too long? I've had this happen with both loaves and rolls I let go too long.

              1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                I tried it again, the NYT version with just 1/4 tsp of yeast, and I stuck pretty closely to the recommended times, even though my kitchen is more like 58-60, not 68-70. I was especially careful to bake it to 210. It came out pretty well, certainly better than my previous attempts. The texture was still a bit gummy, even after a couple of days, but no weird smell. I'll keep experimenting.

                1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                  In his book My Bread, Lahey reduces the amount of water to 1 1/2 cups. When you say "after the bread has cooled", I assume that means you're not cutting it until after the bread has cooled? That's an important step, though I'll admit to cutting into it hot. I also find a longer rise is better--mix the night before and don't do the folds until afternoon.

                  1. re: chowser

                    Yup, mixed it the night before, did the folds/2nd rise in the afternoon, baked it, let it cool before cutting. I'll try cutting the water back to 1 1/2 c. next time. I do think the dough was really too wet.

              2. Try is better than Bittman's, and practically the same recipe. Much better flavor (uses yeast in beer). You knead it a tiny little bit.

                NO-KNEAD BREAD (ALMOST)

                3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces), plus additional for dusting work surface
                1/4 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
                1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
                3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water (7 ounces), at room temperature
                1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored lager, such as Budweiser (3 ounces)
                1 tablespoon white vinegar

                1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.

                2. Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.

                3. About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.