The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


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GregS's picture

Flat Boules

March 17, 2009 - 12:15am -- GregS

I have been working with the Cook's Magazine "Almost No Knead" recipe, which seems pretty slick to me. Trouble is, after baking the recipe a number of times, I feel there is an either/or issue resolving hydration vs rise and shape stability. I do my second rise on a parchment sheet lowered into a bowl (boule?) shaped like the rounded loaf I hope for. When the second rise is complete, I remove the parchment sling, slash the loaf, then lower it into the 6 quart dutch oven for baking. The loaf is about an inch less in diameter than the pot.

goldrhim's picture

No-Knead Sun-dried Tomato Asiago Basil

February 16, 2009 - 9:21am -- goldrhim

Hello all!

I made this recipe this weekend and it turned out FANTASTIC!  This was my first no-knead bread in a dutch oven (just purchased it that day).  The look and taste was exactly what I expected.  I couldn't have had a better experience with it.


mountaindog's picture

This is in response to Trailrunner's questions on a mixing discussion over at Hansjoakim's blog here on a fantastic-looking crumb he has on his Hazelnut bread.

Lately I seem to get best results with a combo of warm shorter bulk ferment with frequent early folding and long cold final proof. No mixer, no kneading with flour, no repeated French-folding. (warning, this could change as soon as I read of a better method, so please take with a grain of sea salt!):

  • Hand mix all the ingredients with a large dough whisk in large bowl (incl. salt)

  • Cover and let rest (autolyse) for 30 min. (I know you are supposed to leave out the salt but I find it easier to mix everything initially if not using a standmixer)

  • After 30 min. rest, use plastic dough scraper to fold dough onto itself in the same bowl, just like what Mark does in his video here. I count to about 100 as that takes me just about 3 min., and that has seemed to develop the dough well.

  • Next round up the dough with scaper and place it into a clean, lightly spray-oiled lidded dough bucket - or for large-size doughs where I double or triple the formula, I use a big square clear plastic food service container with lid.

  • Let the dough sit for 30 min. (preferably at 76F location), then do a single stretch & fold as per Hamelman: if dough is in smaller bucket, tip the dough out onto a lightly spray-oiled counterstop, stretch it out into a rectangle, and letter fold it onto itself once, rotate 90 degrees, letter fold again, and put it back in the bucket for another 30 minutes. If dough is in big square container, just fold it right in the container and turn upside down when done.

  • Repeat step above 2 more times for a total of 3 folding sessions spread 30 min. apart. Then leave the dough to finish bulk-fermenting at 76F, usually for another 90-120 minutes until just doubled (my home-made starter is not that fast a riser).

  • Next shape loaves, then I place the shaped loaves in a 45-50F location (my unheated mudroom) to retard overnight or 12 hrs min.

  • After cold retarding I place the proofed loaves in my room temp (65F) kitchen while I preheat my baking stone for 45 min. and bake with steam right after that, usually the loaves are proofed enough after all that time retarding, and the oven spring is great.

Here are results of a less slack dough (65% hydration pain au levain 10% whole wheat), not huge holes like you'd get with a very wet dough, but large enough and evenly distributed, and very flavorful crumb, chewy but not gummy:

I still need to try SteveB's double-mixing technique he describes here. If anyone sees any error in my ways with how I've been doing this, I'm all ears! I'm sure I'll revise this after I read Advanced Bread and Pastry, due in soon.

JMonkey's picture

Well, I made those baguettes I'd been craving. Simple really -- I just did the NYT / Sullivan Street bread scaled down to make three 8-ounce baguettes. Well, I also substituted 10% of the white flour for whole spelt, because I had some on hand, brought the hydration down to 75% and folded it twice before going to bed.

They were very tasty, almost buttery, and the crust was perfect. Crunchy and full of flavor. Crumb was nice too, with the irregularly shaped , though not cavernous, holes I was hoping for.

Man, though, were they butt-ugly.

Thin, bulbous, crooked, ugh. And I did my first attempt at a wheat sheaf all wrong -- I should have cut from the top, not the side, so they turned out looking twisted.

When you all make baguettes, how much do you weigh each out at? I've got just enough room for a 12 inch baguette but it seemed to me that 8 ounces was a little on the small size. Also, any hints you can give on shaping, and I'm all ears ....

But, even if they were ugly, they went very, very well with Zolablue's divine sweet potato sausage soup. I pretty much stuck to the recipe, though I added more sweet potatoes since I had to thaw out 8 cups of stock (smallest container I had) and didn't want it to be thin.

I'd once thought that soups weren't photogenic, but now, having seen Floyd's photo, I'm beginning to think that it's just that my soups aren't photogenic.

Anyway, that's a perfect winter meal, as far as I'm concerned (though, the bread really should be whole-grain ... but heck, even I get a Jones for white bread every once and a while ....

THANK YOU, Zolablue. This soup was a huge hit.

Cooky's picture

Aarggh! Need some help here with cold-start baking

October 21, 2007 - 1:33pm -- Cooky

Hi, guys. I am mightily frustrated this afternoon following my third bad experience with cold-start baking of no-knead bread. I know I've made it work a few times, but when it goes bad, it's a mess. Basically, the bread bakes into the pan and cannot be dislodged without destroying the loaf altogether. I've tried it with two different baking vessels, both of which work great when preheated to blistering temps. I have had the same experience with traditional loaf pans - even when I oiled the heck out of them first.

KipperCat's picture

NYT/Lahey no-knead sourdough question

October 2, 2007 - 10:35am -- KipperCat

When you make this, how much starter do you use, at what hydration? How vigorous is your starter? The first time I tried this, I used way too much starter, I think 80 grams.   In the morning my dough had obviously risen and tanked.  Last night I used 6 grams of 60% hydration starter.  AFter 13 hours it had done very little. Since I don't want to go another day without bread, I just added a bunch more starter and will watch it like a hawk.  At 180 grams I probably used too much!

KipperCat's picture

I have done a lot of scattered baking the past two months. These are pics of most of it. OK, so only one loaf was actually bad. That was the one where I thought I forgot to add the salt to the evening mix, so I added it the next morning. That was one of Peter Reinhart’s epoxy sandwich loaves. Not only was it too salty, but as you can guess it also didn’t rise very well. It still had a very nicely textured crumb. That loaf went in the freezer for use as breadcrumbs. I just hope I remembered to label it!


07/29/07 This was a wonderfully flavorful multigrain loaf, based on the NYT/Lahey No Knead Bread. Thanks Cooky for the grains combination! I couldn’t find my cornmeal, so used corn grits instead. I didn’t presoak any of the grains, but with the 18 hour ferment they did fine. I didn’t get well-developed gluten, but for the minimum effort involved, I was happy, and the taste was great.

A few days later, I diced up the remainder and used it for a cheesy bread pudding. Topped with the bacon/tomato/onion flavors of bluezebra’s mulligan stew it made a very nice light supper.


1/3 cup rye flour

1/3 cup steel cut oats

1/3 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup WW flour

1-1/2 cup bread flour

1 Tbsp gluten

1.5 tsp table salt (or 2 tsp kosher salt)

1/4 tsp yeast

1.5 cups water (more?)



09/27/07 This is the cinnamon oatmeal raisin bread that so many of us know and love. I could have done a better job of mixing the raisins in, but am otherwise very happy with it. I’ll be making this often, freezing it in half-loaf portions. Eventually I hope to have large volume formulas I’m happy with for other breads, so I can keep the freezer stocked with a variety of breads. Yes, three loaves is large volume for me! The Delonghi/Kenwood mixer handled the full recipe just fine.

I subbed in 214 gr sourdough starter for corresponding amounts of flour and water, and added 1 Tbsp. granular lecithin to the dough. Both of these were to enhance the keeping quality. I also took the dough for the third loaf, and made cinnamon rolls from it. They were baked with more butter, sugar and cinnamon, and topped with icing. But I thought the plain bread was better.


09/15/07 The loaf on the left is Peter Reinhart’s transitional rye sandwich loaf on page 119. I did increase the content of whole wheat flour relative to bread flour just a bit. The loaf on the right is a quickly thrown together NYT/Lahey no-knead rye bread. I wanted to try the King Arthur deli rye flavor, but didn’t want to adulterate the taste of the rye sandwich loaf. I don’t think I quite got the perfect formula for the no-knead! But it was still a good bread.

The taste comparison was interesting. A few hours after the bread was baked, we thought the PR loaf was a bit sweet, and preferred the flavor of the other one. The next day, we noticed more complex flavors in the PR loaf, and preferred it. Next time I may try the PR loaf with the King Arthur flavor enhancer.

The flat no knead rye made a nice hearty sandwich


08/11/07 I played around a lot with the NYT/Lahey no knead. This one has kalamata olives, parmesan and marjoram. Unfortunately, there was no rosemary in the house. The bread was still good, and eaten with an Italian chicken dish. I also love it for tunafish sandwiches.

The bread additions were decided on rather late in the process, so I spread out the dough, topped with the additions, and rolled it up. I then did a few folds. This was NOT a good way to get the olives evenly distributed!

The result was a dough that wasn’t developed quite enough. As you can see, it has a lot of puff at the top.


09/??/07 One of my uses for some leftover starter was some sourdough biscuits. I didn’t get the formula right – and my starter was probably too old to use.

So they weren’t perfect biscuits, but were definitely tasty!


09/08/07 I think this is the Loaf for Learning from Laurel’s Kitchen. It was a good effort, with a nice soft crumb but my version still has room for improvement. Definitely worth a 2nd try.


08/20/07 This is the sandwich loaf from Reinhart’s new book, Whole Grain Breads. Too bad about that salt!


08/09/07 This is my earlier attempt at almost the same loaf. This time I had used JMonkey’s version.

I will try this one more time. Sure hope the third time’s the charm!


08/30/07 I took a basic NYT/Lahey no-knead, gave it a few extra folds, and tried a sandwich-loaf shape. It didn’t have quite enough structure. You can see it pushed out the rolling pins I used to hold my “couche” in place.

It still made a very tasty loaf, and was good for sandwiches. You can see how it laughed at my slashes! More than likely I won't try this formula like this again - either go with the utter simplicity of the original, or make a bread designed to hold up to shaping. But I had fun finding out if it would work.


08/06/07 This is about a half recipe of the NYT/Lahey loaf, small enough to fit easily in my toaster oven.



08/04/07 This is my first whole wheat sourdough. I started following instructions for a mixer far less powerful than mine, and way overkneaded the dough.

I thought I had great ovenspring, but just had these huge baker’s caves (Surely some bakers lived in caves sometime.) Anyway, you’ll find a discussion of much that went wrong HERE.


400 g starter (about 100% - mostly WW with some rye & AP)

480 g WW flour

420 g water

1.25 teaspoons table salt


Well, that’s all the pics. We also had pizza a few times, but I always forgot to snap a photo. Some of the breads were also consumed without benefit of camera. ;~) Extra starter went into cornbread and a few batches of waffles. The cornbread tasted about the same as normal. I don’t know how the waffles compared, because I hadn’t made them in years! The desire to use extra starter triggered all sorts of things. I may do pancakes next weekend.

I’ve had a very chaotic summer, and baked way more than we need to eat. Yes, we gave some away, but also ate too much. Time for me to get back to doing some things I’ve been ignoring and bake a little less. Both my office and my waistline will appreciate it!

KipperCat's picture

no-knead, high hydration, cold oven - Help!

July 29, 2007 - 1:50pm -- KipperCat

The first time I baked a no-knead loaf in a cold oven, it came out perfect. It was made with bread flour. I don't remember if I greased the pan, or what the oven temp was.

The next 3 loaves have stuck big time. They were -

whole meal spelt, greased with butter, baked in corningware

bread flour, greased with butter, baked in pyrex

multigrain, greased with safflower oil, baked in stainless dutch oven


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