The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hello from The Carolinas!

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thihal123's picture
thihal123

Hello from The Carolinas!

Just wanted to say hello! I'm a novice bread-maker (wouldn't say baker!). I made my first loaf of bread about 20 years ago when I was in college. My breads back then were rather heavy and chewy. I stopped making bread for a long time until about two months ago when I discovered the no-knead bread by accident! Using that method (but without a Dutch oven!) I was able to make bread that I consider good (good enough).

Recently, I used the same no-knead recipe but this time I did knead it using the Richard Bertinet slap-and-fold method. I also let the dough rise once, then shaped into into a loaf, and let it rise again in the loaf pan before baking. I started around 8am and the bread finished by 12noon or 1pm. It worked! Of course, it wasn't as flavourful as following the entire no-knead recipe to the "T", but the advantage of kneading is that my loaf was able to have some form. I didn't bake any of my breads in a Dutch Oven since I don't have one. I used a regular loaf pan. I create steam in the oven by using a pre-heated cast iron skillet and pour in boiling water in the skillet and also on the bottom of the oven floor, in hopes of creating a steamy environment which the Dutch Oven does.

Anyhow, my next quest now is to make a 60% whole wheat loaf with not much (or no oil). My ultimate goal is to make a 100% whole wheat loaf with no added fat (or very little fat) using the Bertinet folding method. The kind of bread I'd like to make reguarly are the simple kinds of whole wheat bread that consist primarily of whole wheat, yeast, salt, water.

I've also heard of the tangzhong (water roux) method to make bread. I wonder if that method, along with the Bertinet kneading method, would be good to produce a whole wheat loaf bread.

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Oh, I should add that I don't have a kitchen scale, so I only do measuring by cups. I know that's not very accurate, but given the context and my own desires, which is that I'm not a serious baker but only want to make 100% whole wheat loaf bread for my husband and me, I think the lack of better bread baking equipment is okay. Yes? :) 

richkaimd's picture
richkaimd

There's a ceramic object, called a cloche, which can be purchased for bread baking.  It's something like a dutch oven turned over.  I don't know its cost but it's truly easy to make your own which works just as well and is much cheaper.   Here's how:  purchase an unglazed ceramic flower pot with a 14" diameter opening at its top.  [Note:  the depth of the flower pot will be determiined by the height of your oven's baking space.]   Purchase an unglazed flower pot base which, turned over, could be used to seal the top of the flower pot with the 14" upper opening.    At a hardware store, purchase a threaded metal hook or eye, long enough that it can be passed through the hole at the bottom of the flower pot and held in place there by nuts and washers on the inside and outside of the hole.   These metal pieces, tightened, with the hook or eye on the outside serve to seal the hole and as a handle when picking up the flower pot when, upside down, it serves as the cover for the flat base.  You'll be baking your dough on the flat base.

If you're following my directions, this device, like the cloche, bakes your dough in a sealed space, using the moisture coming off the dough to produce a fine old crust on your dough.  If you follow the no-knead recipe well, you'll know that after about 30 min.s of baking you remove the cover.  Using this flowerpot device you do the same thing.  Take off the flower pot and let the dough bake unti well browned on the base.

If this makes no sense at all, just tell me.  I'll try to explain it again in other words.

 

 

thihal123's picture
thihal123

Thanks for describing how to make my own flower pot cloche! I was able to follow the directions. Thanks! I had another idea which is kinda like a Dutch Oven, but of course not as good. I was thinking about using two loaf pans, one upside down to cover the other loaf pan. The loaf pans I have, have wide edges on two sides (I guess for handles). I think I should be able to upturn a loaf pan and use that as a cover for one loaf pan.

I will also use your baking sheet idea. I do have those.

mendozer's picture
mendozer

another option if you don't have a DO is to preheat a sheet pan upside down (i have the Vollrath aluminum jelly roll sheets) on your pizza stone (or rack if not) for at least 30 minutes at 500F. Then when you put your bread in on parchment, just squirt some water on the sides of the oven to make steam.  I use a DO, but I use this method when I want longer loaves. Typically 3 squirts through the hour will do it.

thihal123's picture
thihal123

I have a question about the temperature.

Now, with the Dutch Oven method, the Mark Bittman's no-knead recipe says set temperature at 450°F. I use the same temperature when using his recipe but without the Dutch Oven and using loaf pans. Now, should I actually reduce the heat? I tried that once but the problem there is that with temperature set to around 400°F, the steam isn't really that steamy. It's only at 450°F or higher that steam is produced from the cast iron pan filled with boiling water.

mendozer's picture
mendozer

I preheat at 500 and bake at 450. You're right about needing it really hot for the steam. America's Test Kitchen took the Jim Leahey method and improved it with a "quick" knead and adding beer, making a moister dough. My go to bread if I want no knead is this:

16 oz flour (i like a mix of 11 bread and 5 white wheat or whole wheat)
1/4 c sourdough starter (or 1/4 t yeast)
1 1/2 c water
1 1/2 t salt

Sometimes i add in flax seeds, etc

Mix and let sit 18-24 hours room temperature. Shape and rise 2 hours. Bake in the heat described above. Very simple, takes a combined 5 minutes of labor including weighing ingredients.

As for the DO, the beginning half is covered, last half uncovered.  If i notice the crust isn't forming well, i squirt water on the walls of the oven if i want a more crunchy crust