Bread baking success doesn’t always come easily to the beginner and sometimes not at all. So it was particularly gratifying to hear from Larry yesterday with his story of bread baking redemption.

He posted his comments on our “About” page, but I’m copying it here so hopefully more will see it and enjoy his well written account. Perhaps this may serve as needed inspiration for someone else.

Hi Eric,

I came across your web site last night while Googling for baking bread. What good fortune, indeed. For years I’ve been reading all the bread authors and drooling over the photos of beautiful artisan bread. Despite all the info in these books, I’ve managed to bake some of the finest bricks and doorstops ever. Either the crusts were like armor plate or the insides looked and tasted like library paste.

As I watched your No Knead Method video with increasing fascination, I jumped out of my chair and hauled out flour and dug out my La Cloche from the closet where it was abandoned in frustration.

Well, when the loaf came out of the oven, I was literally stunned. I was finally looking at a loaf the way it is pictured in all the great bread books: golden brown crust, wide open slash marks with raised and caramelized edges. When I cut it open I finally saw what had eluded me so long, the large beautiful holes throughout the entire slice.

At last I understand firsthand what all the bread authors mean when they talk about the perfume of wheat, the sweet taste of the grain, the singing of the crackling loaf as it cools.

Needless to say, I ransacked the fridge for anything and everything that could possibly go on the slices, strawberry jam, butter, cream cheese, tomato sauce, brown gravy, cold cuts. My only regret is that I don’t have a camera to send you a photo.

My heartfelt thanks to you for proving that artisan bread is not only possible but easily accomplished by an amateur home bread baking enthusiast. Your video helped me see the way to do it at last!

PS: I’ve just begun my first whole wheat pineapple juice starter and sent in my first order for the yeast, baskets, and whisk.

Larry

15 thoughts on “The Singing of the Crackling Loaf… At Last!

  1. What a wonderful story! It is great to hear that Larry persevered and created a wonderful loaf of bread (actually, I’m sure there’s been a great many wonderful loaves by now). I think it does take a while to learn what a good texture of the dough feels like when kneading, and especially so when there’s no one to personally demonstrate in your kitchen. The ease of the no-knead method is amazing. Thanks for sharing your story, Larry!

  2. Maria

    RE: Shower caps and proofing bread dough: Not sure of how much dough we are talking about proofing here – however, I proof my dough in a stainless steel bowl (approx. 4 qt. capacity) and slide the entire thing in one of those large, lightweight plastic bags that one uses when one buys produce at the grocery market. They work great, they are reusable in this way (cuts back on waste) and one doesn’t have to necessarily buy anything extra. If you’re using that sized bowl or container for proofing, this should work fine.

  3. helen

    LOL!

  4. Tom Stazer

    That is very true in Texas allright! As for “soft and firm as a baby’s bottom”, well, maybe a baby with a skin condition. I’ve finally learned the texture and consistency I should have at the outset, and if it is SMOOTH as a baby’s bottom, it’s not gonna fly. Food network described it as “shaggy”, which helps a bit. I’d say firmness of baby bottom, but texture of a slightly damp dog, and a bit flaky. er, yummy.

  5. helen

    Betty Crocker’s basic bread recipe (I know; you guys are way too high falutin’ for that, but hear me out.) calls for “9-13 cups of flour.”

    Why? Flour varies in the amount of moisture it contains, seasonally and, I have found, by locality. In the midwest…i.e.,close to the mill…you can use more flour w/o making “bricks & doorstops”; here in Texas, not much more than the minimum amount.

    This was brought home to us when my son decided “anything his sister could do, he could do better” (and w/o supervision.) He used 13 cups of flour and got [several] bricks.

    After a bit of laughter, (hers) he went on to make excellent bread, with a little more attention to the feel of the dough.
    Which is something I have no words to describe, but I once saw someone else write “soft and firm as a baby’s bottom”.

  6. Yes you can oil the top of the bread – I have made some variations and put a thin layer of olive oil on the bread – It works well – but it does change the crust – it is not as thick or crisp – but it is still quite nice

  7. helen

    Why do you need plastic to cover your rising bread.
    Grease it lightly and put it under a dish towel.

  8. You can use “shower caps” while they don’t come in sizes they are great for covering bowls of rising bread or using as you would the Saran quick covers which I have not seen here in a long time either.

  9. susan

    Hi Brian-

    I was looking for instructions for using a baking stone and I saw your question. I’m sure that you have already found a solution to the bowl cover dilemna … but, just in case THIS IS SUCH A GOOD THING — At Walmart in the hair care area (same aisle as the barrettes) you can buy a package of 15 shower caps for 94 cents. It is a clear package and is made by Adama. I started using these for my pies, but they work so great for everything!! They are surprisingly sturdy, and they are so much better than ones made for this purpose. I reuse mine ’cause I hate waste, then when they’re ready to be pitched I add them to my plastics recycling. God Bless!!!! Susan

  10. sylvia

    I save the little shower caps I get from hotel rooms…have the maid give you a few extra. They work great as bread covers.

  11. Bob Packer

    Try getting some shower caps. They work just fine. You can usually find them in the dollar type stores.

  12. Made 1 batch of 2 loaves in Cast Iron Skillets with lids. Too hot! We described the output as ‘cannon balls’. They thumped really nice and we considered mounting them on the drum set. I sliced them open and discovered a 1/4″ crust. We cut the innards out and everything tasted good. The next batch I made was the Oat/Rye combo and a second loaf of plain white. I didn’t have the baskets to do the rising in, so I went to Walmart of Scandinavia (IKEA) and got two baskets that kind of worked. The weave is too open and stuff dried out. So I lined with foil. The oat/rye went according to the receipe, the plain white had a tblsp of honey, cardamom and caraway seed added (Scandinavian influence), as well as some orange flavoring. Both cooked in my Bayou Classic Roaster (Cast Iron) simultaneously at 25 degrees cooler than the receipe called for. The White loaf was double the size of the Rye/Oat combo when done. Both were tasty. I wonder if the skillets don’t have enough ‘head’ room for the loaves while the roaster did. I started two batches of sourdough, white and rye, for the next go around. Doing a double batch next time to share with friends and family.

  13. Brian Avery

    I’m looking for elasticized plastic food covers. A few years ago I could buy “Zip-Loc” brand covers. They disappeared from our local store shelves and then “Saran Wrap” “Quick Covers” became available. I have come to depend on these covers. They are great for covering bread dough while proofing. I have almost run out of these covers and can find none locally. A web search turned up a similar cover but I have no idea of what the quality is. Also, the several sizes seem to be the same colour, unlike the “Saran Wrap” ones which are colour-coded. I live in Canada but would order them if they are available anywhere in the USA or Canada.

    Brian

  14. Larry

    Hi, Tom,

    I think I just kept adding too much flour during the kneading to prevent the dough from sticking all over the counter. Also I wasn’t weighing the flour and may have been packing it too tightly in the measuring cup without realizing it.

    Larry

  15. Tom Stazer

    Great story!! Ever figure out what went wrong before? Seems like a lot of folks get doorstops, we are not alone!!

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