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Mar 6, 2012 02:50 PM

Bread --- no knead v. nearly no-knead; covered v. not covered

Hi everyone. I just recently discovered the Bittman/Sullivan St. Bakery no knead bread method and love it. I've never made good tasting bread at home, until now. And it's easy.

One problem: the shape. The dough spreads out in the dutch oven and the loaf that is produced is very flat. Still delicious, but not very nice looking and no good for sandwiches.

I came across this recipe at King Arthur, which shapes the bread into nice-looking baguettes. The dough is drier (which probably allows it to hold its shape better) and they don't cover the dough. It is similar to no-knead in that the bread rises for a very long time and there is very little kneading involved. But I'm wondering if the drier dough and the lack of a cover will produce a very different bread. If anyone has any experience with this or thoughts on this, I'd love to hear it. Many thanks.

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  1. Your Dutch oven might be too large for the amount of bread you are making. Have you tried a smaller container?

    3 Replies
    1. re: escondido123

      Thank you so much for your reply. I did think of that but haven't tried it because I only have one dutch oven, and it is large. I was hoping to find a solution that does not call for an expensive purchase. But the bread is so good that I will do that if nothing else works.

      1. re: lafarrell

        Have you read the Bittman follow-up article, as to the refinements he made to the recipe for no-knead, as well as this very long thread on this Board on the subject,

        You don't need to use a dutch oven. Virtually any pot or vessell that withstands high heat will do -- e.g., a corningware casserole, a soup pot. And, in lieu of a 5 -6 qut vessel, which Bittman recommended in his original recipe, he suggests using a 3-4 qut vessel.

        I made the recipe for first time about 10 days ago and used a 6 qut stock pot -- i.e., a relatively tall pot with a diameter that is smaller than the typical dutch oven. I had to place the rack towards the bottom of the oven to accomodate the height of the pot, but the bread turned out great. And, in shape, the bread was quite similar to the commercial Italian boules that I typically buy.

      2. re: escondido123

        Lafarrell, I am so with you on this one. I just recently started making the no-knead breads in my Dutch oven, and the taste/texture/crust just can't be beat. But the kids want bread that fits in the toaster and into a sandwich bag for school lunches. I have experimented with a loaf pan with a cookie sheet on top of it, but I just don't seem to get the same results unless I am using my cast-iron dutch oven. I find most King Arthur recipes make good bread, but I am struggling to produce a more shapely loaf with the texture of a no-knead, covered baking container loaf...anybody have a container that works well? I looked at the 'pullman loaf' pans (which have a sliding cover) but they seem very lightweight and not really something that will 'seal' and trap the moisture like a dutch oven. I am loathe to spend the money unless I hear from someone who has tried them.

      3. Why don't you try it and see?

        But in general, every detail in the preparation of a loaf of bread will have an effect on the finished product. The drier dough will probably produce a denser loaf. The lack of a cover will lead to less oven rise. And the choice of flour--the King Arthur recipe specifies one of their blends--will definitely have an effect on the qualities of the loaf.

        1. I really love this no knead bread recipe from that takes a faction of the time that other no knead recipes take.

          Using a beer with low hop flavor such as a Belgian wheat ale, you would never guess that it has beer in the recipe. The crust is amazing when you do add the pan of water to create steam in the oven.