In 2006, Mark Bittman of the New York Times wrote the ground breaking article “No-Knead Bread” in collaboration with Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. Since then, I and a few thousand other people became obsessed. While all the other thousand people were very happy as they expressed their ecstasy in the blogoshere, I was miserable. Over the last three years, I must have tried this recipe 30 times. When the recipe says “at this point, your dough should become double”, it never happened to me. Most of the time, it shrank. I tried everything. Bought special instruments to measure the 1/4 teaspoon of yeast, changed yeast, used cold water, hot water, different kinds of flour. The bread I made over the past three years always looked good, but it was inedible. There were no teeth strong enough to attack the stone hard bread. When I served it to my friends, they thought I wanted to terminate the relationship or send them away to the dentist.
But then, the light! The other day, I found another and more recent (2008) article by the same Mark Bittman. It is “Faster No-Knead Bread“: it only requires 4 hours’ rising (instead of the 14-20 hours of the original recipe) and it uses olive oil. I tried and it WORKED! As you can see from the picture, it looks magnificent and it is very good, too. I am so proud! If I could do this, believe me, you can do it, too.
I started making this bread a couple weeks ago and have made it about 6 times. Results have been amazing – it’s the best bread I have ever made and certainly the easiest. I cannot imagine what this poor baker is doing wrong. Today I am going to mix up the whole wheat version.
ciao Sara. i have been experimenting with whole wheat flour, also. in my kitchen, bread with all whole wheat flour does not rise and becomes too hard. my best result, so far, is 2 cups white flour and 1 cup whole wheat. let me know what happens in your kitchen.
good luck and grazie.
Ciao Beatrice – I made the whole wheat version of Jim Leahy’s no-knead bread exactly per his instructions with one exception – I added another 1/3 cup water in order to get the same degree of wet dough as I have had in the white bread. It was excellent. Since then I have started using semoline instead of flour on the towel that bread rises on. The semolina which adheres to the loaf during baking is, to me, much more desirable than all that flour! Anyway – here are the ingredients for the whole wheat (but i recommend increasing water 1/3 cup):2 1/4 cups bread flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
1/2 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/3 cups cool (55 to 65°F) water
Wheat bran, cornmeal, or additional flour for dusting
– good idea about adding water. this might make the difference.
– semolina in the towel. what semolina? i guess i still don’t have the terms right. i thought semolina was flour. anyway, i don’t use the towel in this recipe. i mix in a bowl where the dough should rise, then i put it to rest for 15 min on the oiled marble counter. i don’t use any more flour.
this is fascinating!
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