The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No Knead Bread = No Baked Bread Smell?

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Mike Jordan's picture
Mike Jordan

No Knead Bread = No Baked Bread Smell?

Hi, I've only been baking bread from a couple of the no knead books for about 2 months now.  In that time I've probably done about two dozen loaves. Like a lot of people, I grew up with my mom making bread the old fashion way for our family, mixing, kneading, raising and baking. I loved the smell of the bread dough and especially the smell of bread while it was baking and after it came out of the oven. I don't think there is much better than fresh bread out of the oven with butter on it.

Later, with my family, I'd do the occasional home made bread, but because of how much time and attention it took, it wasn't very often but we still enjoyed the smell of baking bread and that just out of the oven with melted butter goodness.  Later on, we got a bread machine and it became easy to do bread.  I don't know how many loaves we baked this way, but I experimented with different receipts to get the kind of bread we liked. I lean towards Italian type bread more than white or French, so I found a couple of receipts for Italian type bread and made variations of that most of the time. Even though the loaves came out in a different shape that what I grew up with, it still smelled like baking bread and was great  fresh out of the machine.

Then I got the urge for more flavor and more variety and my wife mentioned that she had been wanting a stand mixer, so I got her one for Christmas (and I'm thinking of the bread hook and how I can use it to make traditional type bread) and it works great. Then I start reading about bread receipts and start reading about stuff called "Artisan Bread" and "Refrigerated Over Night Bread" and "No Need to Knead" type bread and using steam, dutch ovens, stones, tiles and all of these promises of how easy it was and how much flavor it created and I just had to try it.  So I bought a few books ("The New Artisan Bread in five minutes a Day, Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast" and Peter Reinhart's "Artisan Breads every day") and started reading and trying out the receipts.  The receipts were easy and leaving them in the fridge overnight or several nights did give me some different flavors.  The hardest part was doing the steam.  I used a baking dish underneath a flat bottomed cast iron skillet that was the right size to put a round loaf of dough on and I'd pour some boiling water into the pan. I never did get more than about a quarter cup poured in because of all the splattering that went on from the almost 500 degree pre-heated pan, so I don't think I ever got a good steam spring from it.  And I found that to get the bread done inside, the crust had to bake a lot darker than what I was use to (but the books said and showed that that was what it was suppose to look like) and what I found more on the bitter side than I liked so I did more reading. I found this site and started reading the forums and getting ideas from others.  One of those ideas was using a stainless steel bowl to put over the dough to hold in the moisture from the very hydrated dough, letting it create it's own steam.  So I did this and found it worked a lot better.  I also found that I could take the bowl off to let the crust brown as much as I wanted and still get the bread done. This improved my crust (in my opinion) although I'm still a ways away from what it probably should be like.  Recently, I took another step and bought a cast iron dutch oven to try baking in. I was a little leery about this because of having to handle that much hot iron and trying to get the loaf into it for baking.  So far I have done two loafs in the dutch oven and I have to say that I'm very happy with the outcome. The crust was a lot softer with more flavor and I got a lot of spring with it. I'm still leery about having that much hot iron though and I keep telling myself to remember how hot it is and to keep both mitts on at all times when the oven door is open.  I also have to be careful where I set the lid or lower part to make sure it's on something heat proof. But I can see I'm going to be using the dutch oven a lot. :D

One thing I've noticed with all of this though, out of all of the loaves I've baked so far the one thing that is missing is the fresh baked bread smell.  It's just not there, not even when I cut the bread and put my nose almost in the crumb to smell.  I did notice that there was almost the familiar baking bread smell with the two loaves I did in the dutch oven when I took the lid off. But it was more a tantalizing tease of a smell rather than what I usually smell when baking bread, either traditionally or in the bread machine. Is that the price we pay for doing artisan type bread?  Do we have to give up the smell?  Or am I doing something wrong in the baking? I have a feeling that the hotter oven is killing the bread smell before it can escape.  I've been meaning to do some traditional loaf bread at the lower temperature to see if I get the smell back, but I've not done that yet.  But it does beg the question... does no need to knead mean we don't get the fresh baked bread smell?

I'm glad I found this site and I'm looking forward to learning more from those that have been doing this a lot longer... which is just about everyone. :D

 

Mike

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Have you been in the kitchen all day?  

When baking the bread, or right after while it's cooling, walk outside and get some fresh air.  Then come back into the house/kitchen.  I guarantee you will smell fresh baked bread.  

Sometimes our brains block out a lot of what our nose takes in as normal so we can sense when things go wrong.  The more we concentrate, the more our brain looks for unusual smells and aromas cancelling out the obvious aromas we recognise.  Ever see a cook hang over the pot and wave a hand to get a full whiff and still have trouble picking up aromas?

Mike Jordan's picture
Mike Jordan

Ha! No, I don't live in the kitchen, although I know what you mean.  If what ever I'm cooking doesn't need attention for 15 or more minutes I'm usually down stairs in the family room where i have my office. Even if the smell doesn't come down into the family room, I should be able to smell it as I come up their stairs to the main level and into the kitchen. I can smell other things that are cooked or baked, and i can smell the hot oven but only a hint of baking bread smell.  I did my first pizza dough tonight and even it had more of a bread aroma while it was cooking than the artisan bread does when it cooks.  Oh well, although I know that there is nothing wrong with my sense of smell , I guess it's just one of the things about baking bread that I'll have to do without... at least with this kind of bread that only has the 4 ingredients. Maybe it will be different when I get into other types where I add other things.

Mike

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

are obviously...  butter, whole grains, rye (even as little as 5%) Higher hydration doughs and sugar in any form.  And as you point out, baked at lower temperatures.    Chocolate is also known for it's aroma as well as nut flours, seedy crusts and browner crusts.   

High heat baking away the aroma...     sounds like a physics problem...   might have to do with moisture droplets in the air or relative humidity also... or even the amount of fermentation, release of alcohol etc. ...  

Wiki:  Odor  has some interesting comments, "habituation" I already mentioned but this foot note: "... tend to be more distinguishable in cool dry air."  

I'm not schooled in aromas formally but I will go see what more I can find.  I know that cereal companies are very much involved with aromas so there might be a study or two somewhere...  

Back again following a trail of odor and processes to eliminate odor pollution.   My conclusion is that most definitely, high heat can rapidly oxidise odors (aromas) leading to a decrease in olfactory perception.   High heat works like a catalytic converter on the molecules  inside the oven changing them before they leave the oven.  With lower oven heat and more aromas, humidifiers and a whistling tea kettle nearby can also suppress aromas.      

 So I guess what that translates to, if you want more baking aromas, lower the baking temperature to around 400°F or 200°C or lower.  Higher heat means less aroma.

Mike Jordan's picture
Mike Jordan

Good information. I've baked at higher temperatures before but usually it is for the first part of the cooking (like with a Prime Rib cooking it at 500 degrees for 30 minutes and then dropping it back to 325 for the rest of the cooking) but cakes, pies, cobblers, etc., as well as bread in the past, so maybe the higher heat does have something to do with it. I keep thinking of doing some bread at a lower temperature but haven't done that yet.

Thanks, Mini.

Mike

Xenophon's picture
Xenophon

are essentially quite volatile (by definition of course) so it stands to reason that higher heat makes then vaporise evaporate (apologies for my English) quicker.  Also, if you bake in cast iron a lot goes on on that hot surface in terms of catalytic reactions and because cast iron is never smooth (on a microscopic level compared to e.g. stuff like silicone of stainless steel) you're dealing with a huge contact surface which further speeds up reactions.  General rule in inorganic chemistry about reaction rates is also that ever 10 centigrade increase in temperature doubles the reaction rate.  Doesn't always hold true but just to give an idea...

andychrist's picture
andychrist

I've grown out of the habit of relying on commercial yeast myself, but don't artisan recipes use lower proportions of it than in quick-process breads, for a longer proof? Seems to me the predominant aroma of bread baking comes from the yeast, so that might explain why artisan loaves don't fragrance the house the same as more standard offerings.

Mike, have you attempted any SD recipes? Although yeast might not the dominant aroma, you'll surely experience an olfactory sensation. Also might I suggest grinding your seeds and seasonings in with the flour, they release quite a bit more fragrance and flavor that way. (I've often noticed that as my SD caraway rye proofs on the counter top, the whole apartment fills with a tantalizingly delicious aroma, before the oven is even lit.)  Another particularly pungeant recipe you might like to try is salt-rising bread.  That'll knock your [dirty] socks off!

Mike Jordan's picture
Mike Jordan

Although it makes sense when you think about it, who would have thought that cooking at higher temperatures would burn the flavor as well as the moisture out of bread dough.

Andy, I'm probably one of the few people on this forum that does not care that much for sour dough. I can eat it ok but will choose something else if there is a choice. My dad use to make it all the time when I was a kid and had a SD batch going for a lot of years we lived in Alaska but maybe it's all the commercial SD that led me to lose my taste for SD. In any event, when I see a receipt that has sour dough in it's name, I skip right over it.

Mike