Problems with Jim Lahey No Knead Methods - Poor First Rise, Too Dense, Etc.
Hello, everyone. I am new to baking as a result of seeking new uses for my Lodge dutch oven. Of course, I discovered Jim's book in that process. I've tried the basic white bread on several occasions and am not having any success to my great embarrassment and frustration. My first rise just isn't getting to the size as described in the book. I've checked my flour and it has the appropriate protein content. I've changed my yeast to a new jar in order to make sure that it is fresh. I use a food scale in order to get the portions correct. I use a thermometer in order to make sure that the water is the correct temperature. I've even changed from using a metal mixing bowl to a plastic one in order to make sure that the dough is not too cool during the first rise. All of this to no avail. While I do get a rise, stopping at various times between 12-18 hours, it never doubles in size. For my second rise, I place the dough in my warming drawer and that doesn't seem to help. My breads barely get over 2 inches tall when completed (measured at the widest point). And, of course, the bread is a quite dense, chewy, and simply not a pleasure to eat. Since I've read so many great reviews of Jim's book and the no knead process generally, I know that I must be doing something wrong but am now at a loss as to what to do differently. Does anyone have any ideas, suggestions, or advice (other than to buy my bread at the grocery store!!)? Should I put the dough into the warming drawer for the first rise as well? Of course, that's not in Jim's book but I really do not know what else to do. If I can get a better first rise, I'm sure that my results will improve. I'm not going to give up.....I will also change the brand of flour (and yeast again) in order to see if this makes a positive change. Look forward to hearing any thoughts. Thanks.