A Clever Variation of an “Old” Theme

My hat is off to CooksIllustrated.com for formulating a worthy variation to the now famous New York Times no knead recipe. They call it their “Almost No Knead” bread since it involves a bit of light kneading, but another key step in the process is streamlined so overall their recipe is still a cinch to make.

If you’re already familiar with the “traditional” no knead recipe, I think you will find the final results of this one significantly different in almost all respects. This crust has a nice crunch to it but is much thinner and easier to chew and the interior crumb is tighter (smaller holes) and softer. I wouldn’t classify this bread as “rustic” like I would the NYT version.

But what really sets this recipe apart is its flavor. The addition of a few ounces of beer and a tablespoon of white vinegar creates a unique and pleasing flavor all its own.

In these videos I cover the Cooks Illustrated plain white flour and whole wheat flour versions.

This recipe also converts extremely well to sandwich loaf bread. In the third video below, I do just that.

I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of this bread – please leave your comments below.

Update: See Virginia’s comment post of 8/22/08. She made a few changes to get great results with a rye version (click link) of this recipe.

White Flour Recipe:

3 cups (15 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (7 ounces) water at room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager
1 Tbs. white vinegar

Whole Wheat Recipe:

2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
1 cup (5 ounces) whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. honey (I used 2 Tbs. raw sugar)
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (7 ounces) water at room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager
1 Tbs. white vinegar

Note: The beer can be non-alcoholic.
Also, regarding the use of sugar and the ratio of white to whole wheat flour in the ‘Whole Wheat’ recipe, see the post from Beatrix below. She used 2 cups of whole wheat flour and 1 of white and it still came out light.

Baking Instructions: For both these recipes, preheat your oven with Dutch oven or Cloche inside to 500 degrees. Reduce temperature to 425 when the bread dough goes in and bake covered for 30 minutes. Then remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the internal bread temperature reaches about 200 degrees.

Almost No Knead

Almost No Knead

Almost No Knead Sandwich Loaf Recipe

The thinner crust and softer, tighter crumb of the Almost No Knead recipe, combined with its subtle flavors, makes it a nice candidate for a sandwich loaf. Here’s a video of the process with the the adjusted ingredient quantities.

18 ounces (~3 2/3 cups) flour. Use all white or a combination of white and up to 6 ounces whole wheat.
1 3/4 tsp salt
3/8 tsp. instant yeast

1 cup (8 ounces) water
1/2 cup (4 ounces) beer

1 1/4 Tbs white vinegar
2 1/2 Tbs honey
(I use raw sugar instead). The honey is suggested only when baking the whole wheat version of this recipe.

Baking Instructions: Preheat oven to 425. Place bread pan with risen dough in oven and reduce temperature to 350. Bake for 55 minutes or until internal bread temperature is about 200 degrees. Note that in the video I’m using a Pyrex bread pan. A metal bread pan would probably bake a few minutes faster.

Note: some have reported an issue with the loaf sticking to the bread pan. After buttering/oiling the baking pans, cornmeal can be sprinkled liberally on the insides and bottom of the pans. This eliminates the bread sticking to the sides while baking. Thanks to Tom & Melody DeGraziano for this tip.

630 thoughts on “Cook’s Illustrated Almost No Knead

  1. Jeffrey

    Hi, Leslie

    Just a few general comments:

    First of all, I really urge you to invest in a scale. Breadtopia sells them at very reasonable prices. Weighing ingredients will help immensely in improving the consistency of your outcomes.

    I think your first venture was not a success for 2 basic reasons: 1. You didn’t use enough water, 2. you used too much gluten. My thoughts:
    1. Most of the recipes I’ve tried out don’t used enough water. The basic no-knead recipe is an exception – the amount of hydration (weight of water/weight of flour) is about 78%, which is quite high for a loaf of bread. (Many baguette recipes call for hydration of about 65%.). It’s truly amazing how much water bread dough can absorb, if especially if you’re using a stand mixer to knead it. Try increasing the water by 5% or even 10% and see how you like it. One trick to doing this is to make the dough according to the recipe, and then, after the dough has formed and been kneaded using the dough hook, to gradually add the addition water in parts, continuing to knead with the dough hook until the water is absorbed at each addition. I used this technique to make a ciabatta that was 100% hydrated – equal parts flour and water by weight. My current recipe for ciabatta calls for 90% hydration.

    2. Too much vital gluten: By example, the Hodgson Mill Rye Bread recipe calls for 3 c. bread flour, 3 1/2 c. Rye flour, and 8 tsp. vital gluten, or about 3 c. flour to 4 tsp. gluten. Your mix used 3 1/2 c. flour and 1/4 c. + 3/4 tsp. = 12 3/4 tsp. – about 3 times the amount used in the Rye bread recipe. Bread flour already contains a higher amount of gluten, but Rye flour is really lacking in it, so the mix would contain about 1/2 the gluten of white flour. Whole wheat contains quite a bit of gluten, so I’d suggest that with 3 1/2 c. of whole wheat flour, you use no more than 3-4 tsp. gluten. Using a mix of whole wheat and bread flour, you’d use a lot less – maybe 1 or 2 tsp. Too much gluten also makes bread extremely chewy. If I were using more gluten, I’d be inclined to add some milk and/or more oil to tenderize it. (If milk, cook on lower oven temperature, and milk sugars promote caramelization, i.e., possible scorching.)

    Finally, you might have a look at Peter Rinehart’s newest book on whole grain baking – lots of recipes using nothing but whole wheat flour.

  2. Leslie

    Hi, Everyone, and Thanks for all your input:
    Here’s Rustic Dinner Rolls from November 2008. I think it should be accessible to all, even without subscribing: http://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/detail.asp?docid=17651 .
    I’m a realtive bread novice, so I prefer recipes that don’t require hand kneading and basically don’t require much judgment on my part, so this recipe and all the No-Knead variations are perfect for me.
    Basically, the first time I tried to make it Whole Wheat, I used all (3 1/4 c.) whole wheat flour and 1/4 c. + 3/4 tsp. Vital wheat Gluten. No other adjustments. I didn’t weigh the flour. The dough was so stiff and the mixer shook so violently during kneading, it wrestled the mixer bowl right off the prongs of the Kitchenaid. The rolls weren’t awful, but they weren’t great. For me, they came out tougher and sweeter than I would have liked, but the texture was the more pressing problem.

    For the second try I went from all Whole Wheat to 2 c. WW flour, 1 1/4 c. Bread Flour and 3 tsp. Vital Wheat Gluten. The dough behaved more normally, and the rising times were more like the orignal recipe. They came out much, much better, but I still wish I could make them 100% Whole Wheat.

    Taste-wise, the way they came out made me want them with jam for breakfast and not to eat with dinner. Is there any rule of thumb so I can adjust the salt without ruining it? Or, are there any thoughts on a way I can use beer & vinegar like in the ANK recipe? I’m not a full-blown sourdough lover, so the beer & vineger really worked for me.

    Thanks, Everyone!

  3. Jeffrey

    Hi, Leslie
    Could you post the recipe, or a link to it, along with any adjustments made by you, so I can see what you did, exactly. Also, what kind of whole wheat flour did you use? And did you measure or weigh your ingredients?

  4. Dave the Novice

    Leslie,

    Based on my experience developing a 100% whole wheat recipe that works in my bread machine, I would guess that you need more honey. I had to go to 3 tablespoons of honey for four cups of WW to get mine to work. I think I’d try 2 tablespoons for this recipe. I use about the same proportion of vital wheat gluten as you did. I scoop out a heaping tsp per cup of flour, and that is probably about 1 1/2 tsp.

    My bread machine allows a little longer time for rising in the WW cycle, so it’s not surprising your rolls took longer to rise.

    I’m looking forward to hearing about your ultimate success. I’d like to serve these myself at Thanksgiving.

  5. Hi Leslie. You got me. Hopefully someone else will see this and know the answer.

  6. Leslie

    How do I “make” whole wheat bread flour?
    I have a box of Vital Wheat Gluten, and I used it following the instructions on the box (1 1/2 tsp. per cup) to make a whole wheat version of CI’s very easy (the Kitchenaid does all the work) Rustic Dinner Rolls, which calls for bread flour. The weren’t the worst-case-scenario doorstops that I expected, but they weren’t great, either. Rising took FOREVER. Is there some rule of thumb about increasing the yeast or times that I should use? And, was it enough vital wheat gluten? I’ve seen formulas that use more per cup.

    Thanks for any info!!

  7. Nance M

    Oops! Sorry, Eric….by ‘fresh yeast’ I meant I threw away the bag of instant yeast that said 2003 on it and bought some that said 2010! LOL! Granted the other bag had been in the freezer in an airtight jar but after at least five years there I spread it on the compost pile. I have never used actual ‘fresh’ yeast either although I have seen it in the store.

    Practice makes perfect I am sure and I spent a couple hours today watching bread making videos…that helped answer some questions too. It is so helpful to be able to SEE what the dough is supposed to look and act like.

    I know I will enjoy the Super Peel…it is the perfect match to that wonderful oven stone.
    Thanks, Nance

  8. Hi Nance,

    I’ve only worked with sourdough starter and instant yeast for bread baking, so I don’t know if what you’re experiencing with fresh yeast is normal or not. Beer has yeast in it too so may add to the rise a bit.

    Sounds like you’re doing fine anyway and thanks for the nice feedback. You’ll love the Super Peel.

  9. Nance M

    Eric, I am having so much fun with this method but also have some questions. I am only letting my dough go for around 12 hours prior to forming and putting in the bread pan (using just the sandwich bread recipe for now). After placing in the pan (9″X5″ bread pan) after 2 hours I am barely up to the top of the pan. A couple loaves have not achieved that. Question…first proof for less time or second proof longer? Also not achieving much oven spring at all. Using fresh yeast, fresh Bob’s Red Mill flours (they are a local company) and room temperature bottled water.

    I usually don’t have beer in the house so wonder if anybody has tried using fruit juice in this recipe. I make our own unsweetened apple and pear juice and even without seeing your answer I just KNOW I am going to try that! LOL!
    BTW, I love the oven stone and the small Danish whisk is the perfect size for small hands. Next is the pizza peel….maybe today! What a wonderful addiction this is! LOL! The new way of doing the videos is brilliant! Thanks for all you do!
    Nance

  10. Richard Walker

    I still use my cast iron dutch oven. No problem preheating and the end result is terrific. My guess on the steel is that it will want to be a fairly heavy gauge … but that is just a guess. If anyone actually uses a heavy gauge stainless container they will hopefully give you a better answer.

  11. Stephen

    Harvey,

    Before I got my le Cloche I used a cast iron dutch oven and it worked fine. I’ve also found that 30 minutes in the le Cloche is almost all the time it takes for the bread to reach 200º. Sometimes I uncover it for maybe 5 minutes, no more.

  12. Harvey

    Oh,,, by the way,,, a quarter cup of malted milk powder gave the bread a great taste. I used it instead of the Honey. It’s a trick I learned making pancakes and waffles without adding sugar to the mix.

  13. Harvey

    Hi,
    I had just baked the C.I. bread before I found your site. I love the method and your site as well. I just tried the sandwich loaf, but just as I was going to put it into a loaf pan, my wife said she preferred the rustic loaf. So I used the skillet for the second rise and baked it in a 6.5 qt oval LeCreuset oven. After preheating the dutch oven in the 500 degree oven I dropped in the dough, lowered the temp to 425 and baked covered for the usual 30 minutes, and presto, it was done. It didn’t have to go for the additional 15 minutes uncovered. Internal temp was 204. It came out with a thin but nice, crisp crust and a tight, sandwich style crumb.
    A question, My enameled dutch ovens claim they should not be heated ‘empty’. They are also getting terribly discolored from this use. Can I use a black ‘Lodge’ type cast iron dutch oven and get similar results? Will a steel dutch oven work or is it not heavy enough?
    Has anyone come up with a ‘no knead’ challah bread yet?

  14. Jacob V.

    As far as I’m concerned you could use any liquid as long as it doesn’t kill the yeast, so nothing to salty and definately no Scotch, haha… I often use milk, raw milk, if you can get your hands on some works great! i like to use it in an all white flour bread, delicious. When using real, raw milk (meaning;straight from the cow, kinda…) your basicly adding milk and cream to your bread.
    I’ve tried wine (in my line of work I get a lot of wine samples, more than I can/want to drink), it works but I can’t recommend it. Quite an odd flavor an when using red wine you end up with a Grey/Purpelisch bread, doesn’t look very appetizing.
    Goat’s milk is great, I mix oats into it… my wife sais it’s an aquired taste but boy do I like it.
    anyway, I guess you’re question was concerning the ‘Almost No Knead’ recipe… as Eric already suggested the beer and vinegar are to mimic the flavor of a sourdough bread without actually being a sourdough bread. So yes you can use just water but please try it with some beer also and taste the differnce.

    Jacob V.

  15. Eileen McKown

    I am so anxious to try the almost no knead bread but wonder if there is something other than beer I can use. I never have beer in the house. Could I just use water? Thank you. All the recipes and comments are great!

  16. Jacob V.

    Funny about the beer in the bread. I found some malted barley flour a couple of weeks ago and really liked the flavor a couple of table spoons of it added to my breads. A couple of weeks later I had a Belgium beer which I didn’t particularly liked, Heylisium Bruin (ordinarily I’m a big fan of the Belgium beers but this one was a bit to much), so I ended up substituting all water with this beer, a very dark, heavy beer. I used my usual flour mixture which includes 3 parts white and one part thats made up out of rye, wholewheat, flaxmeal, oatflour and wheatgerm the resulting bread was one of the tastiest breads I’ve made. I will certainly try to reproduce these results although it’s gets to be a quite expensive bread with a $12,- /btl beer in it (750ml).

  17. Bruce

    Malcolm:

    I’ve been reviewing your 02.29.08 post as a peculiarly useful guide.

    I have a question about fermenting before refrigerating the dough. The Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes book recommends bulk fermentation at room temperature until the dough actually peaks and starts to fall. I’m not sure this makes sense if it is followed by a week to two week of retarding in the fridge. In addition, so much yeast is used in the book’s recipes that I wonder if the dough is near exhaustion even before it is refrigerated. Perhaps that’s why they call for such a brief proofing before baking (45 minutes or so).

    The Veganfeastkitchen website recipe referred to by me in a previous post calls for much much less yeast but includes a two to five hour room temperature ferment.

    Do you immediately retard the dough after mixing, apart from any portion you intend to immediately use? Or do you allow for some initial room temperature bulk fermentation?

    Thanks! Best, Bruce

  18. Stephen

    Alessandra,

    I do not use parchement paper at all. I put my dough in the preheated cloche or dutch oven. I place a large tin cookie sheet on the oven rack beneath the rack the cloche or dutch oven is on and my dough does not usually burn. At first it did, but once I realized my oven ran hot and I adjusted it down 25º my crust came out much better. I am also careful not to over heat the cloche or dutch oven before baking.

  19. Alessandra

    I made the recipe Almost no knead bread. Here in Brazil we do not have the required “parchment paper” that you use to bake the bread, we have a role like this – “butter paper”. Why even greasing the paper with oil the bread stick on it? What should I do? Could put directly into the pan?
    thanks.

  20. Eva

    Thank you Mike. I will try this the next time I bake bread.
    Eva

  21. Mike Belgiorno

    Eva,
    I put the pie weights in the pot prior to pre-heating and let pot and weights heat together to 500 degrees, before adding the bread on parchment for baking. Hope this helps.
    Mike

  22. Eva

    Hi Mike,
    The ceramic pie weights sound like a good idea. Question…. do you pre-heat the pie weights in the pot or do you put the pie weights into the pre-heated pot just before you put the breaddough into the pot?
    Thanks, Eva

  23. Mike Belgiorno

    In reading the posts on Almost No Knead Breads, I noted with interest Carolyn’s post of 04/13/08. I own a Lodge pre-seasoned 5 qt. cast iron Dutch oven and I have also had a continuing problem with burning the bottom of my ANK Breads. And a quick search of the Internet shows that Carolyn and I are not the only ones with this problem. I confirmed my oven’s temperature settings with an oven thermometer, so I eliminated that as a source of the problem. When I lowered the baking temperature enough to prevent the bottom crust from burning, the oven spring and, in particular, the quality of the crust was significantly compromised. Since the bottom crust is the only part of the bread in actual contact with the surface of the Dutch oven, it occurred to me that the answer might lie in elevating and/or insulating the dough in some manner. After some thought and experimentation, I found what I believe to be a workable solution to the problem. I merely lie the bottom of my Dutch oven with the round ceramic pie weights, the kind sold in cooking stores (I bought mine at Bed Bath & Beyond) to keep unfilled pie crusts in place while baking. The ceramic pie weights act as an insulator between the bottom of the Dutch oven and the dough, while providing much the same heat transference as a cloche or ceramic baking stone. I now use the temperatures specified for pre-heating and baking my Almost No Knead Bread and end up with a bottom crust that is perfectly browned. I encourage everyone who has dealt with this frustrating problem to give this a try and let me know how you make out. Love this site. Keep on baking and posting!

  24. Eva

    Hi, I put my bread into two (2) zip-lock bags ( each bag should have most of the air pressed out and be properly closed. The bread freezes well this way and it also keeps very well and for a long time in the refrigerator.
    I usually bake a large round loaf of “the almost no knead rye bread” and either freeze half of it or I keep the whole loaf in the refrigerator. The last loaf lasted for three (3) weeks and still tasted very good.
    I am still trying to figure out how long and at what temperature to bake the bread.No matter how long I bake the bread, it never goes past 200 F for the internal temp. and the center stays moist. Most of the time the crust turns out way too dark ( just about burned) and the crust is also rock hard. The last time I wrapped the hot loaf into a clean towel and put it back into the oven to soften the crust. Storage in the plastic bags will also soften the crust some. But, again, my crust can stand some softening since I do like to keep my teeth for a while longer :).
    Keeping the bread on the kitchen counter is not an option for me since we live in Louisiana and the bread would mildew very quickly.
    Eva

  25. Stephen

    Ken,

    Thanks for the reply. I’ve got half a loaf baked fresh for dinner tonight that I just set cut side down on the cutting board in the dining room. Tonight it will test two things; does the bread keep well this way and do I have any guest mice in the house for the winter? :o)

  26. Ken Trease

    Stephen,
    I have had the best luck with always slicing the bread straight across and storing the bread with the cut side down on a smooth hard surface like a cutting board or the bare counter. Keeps well for 2-3 days with no additional wrapping or covering. I have only used this technique with hard crusty artisan type breads.

  27. Stephen

    Thanks Eric. I was thinking maybe paper. I’ll have to try it with the foil. I’ve tried storing it in the cooled cloche. Keeps well but you get the softening crust. I’m trying an old stainless steel bread box; the kind with the small holes for air in the sides. Doesn’t seem much different than the cloche method so far. My best solution is to not have any left to store, but eating a loaf a day is a bit much when I’m on my own.

    Will try to remember to ask the owners of the artisan bakery where my daughter works how they store it, if they do.

    Hope to hear how others are doing it here.

    Stephen

  28. Hi Stephen,

    Figuring out the optimum bread storage system is a challenge for sure. Put it in a plastic bag and the crust gets soft. Leave it out and the crumb gets stale. When I want to prolong the good qualities, I’ve had decent luck covering just the cut surface with foil and keeping the loaf in a paper bag.

    I’ll bet others have some good ideas.

  29. Ken –

    I agree with Richard about the Dutch oven if breakage is the logistic you’re referring to.

    Lowering the temperature would probably help. Someone else mentioned that putting a cookie sheet under their baking container (can’t remember what kind of vessel they used) provided enough insulation to keep the bread bottom from burning easily. Lacking a cookie sheet on the sail boat, you can probably find something suitable… a trivet or something that will take the heat.

    Eric

  30. Richard L Walker

    I recommend (if possible) using a Dutch oven in lieu of the La Cloche. I’m thrilled with my results. When the bottom of the bread burns by the time the rest of the loaf is done I always recommend double checking the oven temperature using a couple oven thermometers purchased for just that purpose. If you see that the oven thermometers show a higher temperature than indicated on your oven knob, simply turn the temperature knob down until you have the needed temperature on the oven thermometer. Use that instead of the knob. Good luck.

  31. Stephen

    Hi,

    I’d never baked a loaf of bread before finding this method, and subsequently this site. Now I bake bread that gets rave reviews.

    I love this recipe, both the whole wheat and white versions. After trying a number of standard beers I settled on Guinness Draught because that’s what I drink, and because it’s used in so many other recipes that I’ve enjoyed. I add a tsp of raw sugar and it is absolutely wonderful. The white recipe has a great texture and a wonderful color, and the flavor is so smooth and delicious.

    Now for my question. How do you all store your bread? A loaf can last as much as three days here and I’m looking for the best way to keep it fresh while maintaining as many of the just-baked qualities as possible.

    Thanks for a great site.

  32. Ken Krawford

    I’m going to be on a sailboat for about 9 days later this month. I thought that fresh bread would be a treat but due to logistics, I can’t bring my La Cloche along. I tried the whole wheat ANK in a metal 5×9 pan at 465 degrees with aluminum foil over the top of the pan. When the bread hit 200 degrees, I took it out but the bottom was pretty badly burned. The loaf also felt like a brick. Should I have reduced the receipe?
    I assume the logical thing would be a lower temperature for a longer time. Any other ideas?
    Thanks.

  33. patti

    Hello
    I am just starting to digestthis info on bigas, par fermente and poolishes. I love this idea of not having to bake all this bread at one time…which is what I have done previously and then freeze the loaves. The poolishes give you an extra span of days to prepare for those bread needs in the week. Tonight I had to stop for bread at Panera and I swear that the loaf I brought home is the CI NK bread. I got some little round ones with slashes on them….hmmmm….could this be Eric’s sour dough recipe.
    Speaking of sour dough….I made the sour dough pizza last night by using some of the info here and then retarding/fermenting the dough for about two days (not intentional / busy month). I was wonderfully surprised how crispy, light and delicious it turned out. I will keep that process in mind for the next sour dough loaf that I will make in my new Le Cloche. I am totally immersed in this bread venture and now excited to use the Danish dough whisks.
    I have this little devlish streak that lurks within and am willing to ask if anyone has ever “fried the dough” as in doughnut; gypsy bread; monkey bread sprinkled with cinn/ sugar?……sounds like something that would go very well with a great cup of coffee too.

  34. Hi Patti,

    I think you’re just going to have to dive in with these ingredient variations and see what works. Take careful notes. The best thing you have going for you is you already have a good feel for what the dough feels like in the basic recipe so you can try to approximate it as you experiment.

    One sprouted grain recipe I’m familiar with has you using about 10 oz of mashed up sprouted wheat, which represents 1/3 of the dough weight. The rest of the flour was regular whole wheat flour. It turned out very well but it also called for more yeast than this one. When experimenting with added ingredients, it doesn’t take long before you have a very different recipe and bread.

    Maybe someone else can weigh in with a less vague answer. I think I’m watching too many political debates.

  35. patti

    Hello and good morning
    I have just ordered my cloche and dough wisks and am just so very encouraged by this website. I flew to another city last week and scaled the city looking for cloches and different items for bread making. I managed to find a round terra cotta w. lid for ring bread and made my first loaf of parmesan/olive loaf minus the olives.
    As an update to my baking list, I have made two loaves of the CI NK breads and am very pleased with the taste, texture and ease of making the breads. I have just completed another sour dough made with a new batch of pineapple starter. It is very similar to my bread made w. the grape starter. Not alot of difference in taste and texture.
    I do have a ? or 2… I like to use sprouted wheat berries in breads for the purpose of putting plant sterols in home baking. My first question is regarding the proportion used and if it really matters with the NK or sour dough version? I know sprouted wheat berries adds extra gluten and if I am using a combo of flours would I need to decrease the WW? I like versions of spelt, WW and rye along with white bread flours. I am currently using an Italian make of the bread flour and it might be working well with making it in the bread machine because the proteins balance out here. ( SAF & knead method ). Also would other sprouts such as rye, mung bean, or soy cause differences with flour and liquid measurements? Thanks for any input on these questions …a little knowledge goes along way in my bread making journals.

  36. Hi Dave. Thanks for the update. I think the reason this recipe calls for a little kneading is it isn’t as wet a dough as the basic no knead recipe. When the dough is really wet, the protein molecules manage to align themselves and form the gluten over time all by their little selves. In this recipe a bit of kneading helps accomplish the same thing.

  37. Dave

    I think I’m posting in the right section now. I made my second loaf of this today and it really turned out wonderful. It helps when you remember the salt :). I did no kneading similar to the original no knead recipe. I still don’t know why this recipe calls for a little kneading. I also don’t detect much of a sourdough flavor. For the next batch I think I will try cider vinegar as another poster has suggested.

  38. Aaron Gross

    My salt lick bread is out of the oven looks pretty good…I’ll try and get a pic to email back

    AaronBread

    Aaron’s “salt lick” bread

    AaronBread

    Inside salt lick bread

    AaronBread

    Sourdough loaf

    AaronBread

    Inside sourdough

  39. Hi Aaron,

    That’s pretty funny. Yea, start looking for a cow pasture to put it in.

    Actually, it might be just fine. Salt is a yeast inhibitor so I guess it might not rise as well as usual. On the other hand, it may not be all that noticeable.

    Let us know! :)

  40. Aaron Gross

    I made an oops. I misread and put in 1 1/2 tbs salt…did I just make a salt lick bread heh????

  41. Carolyn

    To Alma D.V. (146):
    Thanks for the heads up on testing clay trays & pots for lead! My pieces are from Italy and Illinois, not the company you mentioned, so I bought a testing kit. I’m very happy to report that the tests are completely negative, not a hint of lead! Yippee, I can keep them! I’m sure glad you told us about the testing kit, thank you!

  42. Jeffrey

    > John Gordon wrote:
    > Any advice appreciated.

    Hi, John

    Even if the flour is milled more finely, it still contains a lot of bran, which is going to absorb a lot of water which will not have any effect on the gluten structure, and which also means that the gluten is being deprived of part of it’s proportional share of water to help build it’s structure. So, off-hand, you need to add more water, but, in order to get the gluten structure to form, the right amount has to be in the mix when the yeast is first added to the flour. Big holes and high lift come from well-developed gluten-structure. Adding flour or water after fermentation is basically over with will stiffen or slacken the dough without adding any gluten structure – the stiffer dough will rise higher, but with drier crumb and smaller holes, while adding water will make the dough slack, possibly increasing hole-size, but causing the bread to flatten out.

    Since ANK is a basic no-knead method, one possible solution might be a modification of the the “soaker” technique used by Peter Reinhart to increase gluten structure in whole-grain breads. In his recent books, he’s suggested soaking whole grains and coarsely-ground grains just in water, but enough only to form a rough, sticky ball. You’d want to increase the amount of water so that later, when you add other ingredients to begin the no-knead fermentation, you can still easily combine them without having to do a lot of work, e.g., perhaps a ratio of 6/5 or 7/5 water to flour, maybe even 8/5. Let it sit for a 3-4 hours, refrigerate overnight, then use the next day to make the rough dough. Add salt at the last possible moment, when you can still work it in – like if you combined all the yeast and water and soaker, let it sit, then add salt and do the 10 or so kneads called for in the recipe.

    Also, if you use any white flour, get some very high-gluten flour, proferably organic, and add maybe 1/2 or 1 cup instead of 1/2 or 1 cup white flour.

  43. I wonder how much it differs from run of the mill whole wheat pastry flour. I’d have to use it a bunch before I’d know how it performs.

  44. John Gordon

    I’m trying to figure out if I need to adjust my proportion of flour to water because I’m using Ultragrain. From the manufacturer’s website:

    What is Ultragrain?
    Ultragrain is the first 100% whole wheat flour that offers whole grain nutrition with a taste, texture and appearance more similar to that of traditional white flour.

    ConAgra Mills, the maker of Ultragrain, developed a patent-pending milling process that delivers whole grain flour with the same particle size as traditional refined white flour. The Ultragrain milling process retains the fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients concentrated within the bran and germ, while yielding whole grain wheat flour with a taste, ultrasmooth texture and appearance more similar to traditional refined white flour.

    NUTRIENTS per 100 grams Refined
    Unenriched
    Wheat Flour** Traditional
    Whole – Grain
    Wheat Flour* Ultragrain
    Moisture, g/100 g 11.9 10.3 10.3
    Calories, Kcal 364 339 339
    Carbohydrate, by difference, g/100 g 76.3 72.6 72.6
    Total dietary fiber,
    g/100 g 2.7 12.2 12.2
    Protein 10.3 13.7 13.7
    Fat 1.0 1.9 1.9
    Ash 0.5 1.6 1.6

    VITAMINS
    Niacin, mg 1.3 6.4 6.4
    Vitiman E, mg ATE 0.1 1.2 1.2
    Pantothenic acid, mg 0.4 1.0 1.0
    Thiamin, mg 0.1 0.5 0.5
    Vitamin B6, mg 0.0 0.3 0.3
    Riboflavin, mg 0.0 0.2 0.2
    Folate, total, mcg 26 44 44

    MINERALS
    Potassium, mg 107 405 405
    Phosphorus, mg 108 346 346
    Magnesium, mg 22 138 138
    Calcium, mg 15 34 34
    Iron, mg 1.8 3.9 3.9
    Manganese, mg 0.7 3.8 3.8
    Zinc, mg 0.7 2.9 2.9
    Copper, mg 0.1 0.4 0.4
    Selenium, mcg 33.9 70.7 70.7
    *USDA Whole Grain Wheat Flour data (#20080)
    **USDA Refined Unenriched Wheat Flour data (#20081)
    ————————————————————————————–
    The Ultragrain flour texture is slightly more gritty than normal raw flour. The consistency is similar. I imagine it is used like whole wheat, it just produces a lighter texture. It came out for consumer use last summer and I just got around to trying it. Two large chains(think mainstream bigbox not specialty or boutique) in the southeast carry it.

    I know it was long, hope that helped. More info if you google ultragrain but that’s a pretty big wall o text I just hit you with.

    Thanks!

  45. Hi John,

    Could you be more specific with your question? I’m not sure what you’re asking. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t know what Ultragrain is.

  46. John Gordon

    I’m trying to duplicate this recipe using Ultragrain, but without success. The first batch I made with the exact proportions as I use for normal white bread flour, only to check it after 18 hours and find it too dry. I tried adding water at that point but it didn’t turn out well.

    I just made another batch of both flours and compared the texture after mixing ingredients. White flour seemed a little more strandy, where the Ultragrain seemed to “snap off” when stretching a little.

    Any advice appreciated.

  47. Hi Beth,

    You’re doing great.

    If you have any pictures you want to send along, please email them to me and I’ll add them to your post. It would be nice if people could add photos themselves but I haven’t figured out a way to make it possible.

    Thanks for your post and thanks Jeffrey for your help.

    Eric

  48. Beth

    thanks Jeff,

    I have the dough on parchment paper for 1st rising, but have to put it into some kind of walled container to contain the spread. It starts out correct consistency.
    When I carry the parchment with dough to the pot, the dough spreads to fill up the bottom of the pot.

    However, I think the problem is over-proofing, as you mentioned. After mixing, the dough looks good in 8 hours, even 12 hours, but I am letting it go to 18.
    Same thing for the 2nd rising, I am letting it go 2 or 2 1/2 and it looks ready in under 2.

    I think for my next attempt, I will put it in the refrigerator after 4 hours, so it will get the benefit of the 12-18 hours to ferment, but will not over rise, I hope.

    And, I have done the pinching to form a skin.
    I took pictures of the baked 2nd attempt, the one 2:1 WW to white flour.

    Of course, both loafs (all purpose unbleached white, and 2:1 WW to white) baked up perfectly!

    The combo bread was pretty bland tasting though. Not enough salt and no real tang. Not sure what happened there, but I used white balsamic vinegar for the 2nd loaf and Sushi Seasoned Rice Vinegar for the 1st one (no white vinegar in the house)

    I have to say, this has to be one of the all time most fun to experiment with recipes/techniques.

    thanks for your help,

    beth

  49. Jeffrey

    Hi, Beth

    From your post, I couldn’t tell exactly how your dough sits in your dutch oven when you bake it. I noticed that in the video, when Eric puts the dough into his La Cloche bakers, the parchment paper forms a kind of cradle, which will help support the sides of the bread and give it more upward support.

    Other than that, I have a few generalized comments about getting free-standing breads to stand up and not spread out, which is based on my own experience and reading books by Peter Reinhart and Maggie Glezer.

    One of the first reasons that some doughs don’t stand up is “over-proofing”: the dough is allowed to ferment too long. The fermentation process causes the gluten in bread to develop, so that it forms the nice crumb structure and shape – but then, if continued too long, causes the gluten to weaken so that it lacks the tensile strength necessary for a nice free-standing shape and upward rise. Over-proofing can also cause the yeast to become exhausted, so that there’s little or no oven-spring when you put the dough into the hot oven.

    Another reason for spread and instead of lift is using lower-gluten flour. If you’re using all-purpose flour, try using bread flour instead. For the whole wheat recipe, try using some high-gluten flour (like 1/2 to 1 cup or so, substituted for 1/2 to 1 cup of white flour). Shaping is also important: the process in the video where Eric pulls the dough up to the top and pinches it in order to create a lot of surface tension, making the “skin” of the dough tight. This step is extremely important to aid in upward lift.

    One of the things I have found in my bread-making is that free-standing loaves with a very open crumb require a very delicate balance among hydration (how much liquid compared to how much flour), gluten content and development, fermentation time, and
    the level of physical effort involved in the creating the final dough. The no-knead bread, for instance, has a high hydration (78% by my calculations; french baguettes are about 65-70%). and the very long fermentation period gives the gluten in the dough opportunity to develop. (Gluten development in part is a product of enzyme activity, which is why the no-knead method works so well – the enzymes have time to develop the gluten.) For very high hydration breads like ciabatta, extensive kneading is usually required in addition to long fermentation. Perhaps one of the more significant facts which derives from these relationships is that, if after long fermentation the dough is too wet (and thus too slack), adding flour shortly before bake-time in an effort to make the dough drier isn’t going to improve the gluten structure very much – isn’t going to help that much with oven-lift, because the gluten in the added flour hasn’t had enough time to fully develop. You don’t want to knead bread (to develop gluten of the added flour) that is already mostly rising, because doing so will release too much gas that’s trapped in the feremented dough. You don’t want to give the dough much more time to ferment (again to develop the gluten in the added flour) because then the yeast will become exhausted and the already-developed gluten will weaken. Adding lots of flour after fermentation is mostly done also makes the dough taste too “floury”.

    Conclusion: It’s important to get the flour/water ratio right before fermentation begins, not after it’s mostly finished, which takes some experience. Any flour added after fermentation is simply to aid in handling the dough, not to contribute to it’s structure and taste.

    Based on your post, it really sounds like you’re using the right amount of water, but the gluten level of your flour is too low. Also, you might not be getting enough tension on the skin when shaping the loaf for the 2nd rise.

    • Ephrim Schwartz

      To keep the shape of a well-hydrated round, free-standing bread I use the baker’s couch from King Arthur. I fan fold it to about 1.5 to 2 inches high, create a circle held together with a rubber band. I flour the inside that comes in contact with the dough. I use a Cloche so I cut a round of parchment paper to fit inside the Cloche when rady to bake. When I cut out the paper I don’t make a perfect circle. Instead on two side I extend the paper to form two handles. I place the boule inside the circle, on top of the circle of parchment paper, adjusting the clothe couche until it almost touches the loaf. Cover the whole thing with a big bowl.
      When ready to bake, I uncover the big bowl, move close to the oven, quickly cUT or remove rubber band to remove couch and using handle of parchment paper slide dough into cloche, cover with Cloche top. Voila, usually it maintains its shape. As they say, it’s all in the wrists.
      Try it.
      Ephraim

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