The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

in need of assistance with a no knead recipe!

  • Pin It
NoKneadinVT's picture
NoKneadinVT

in need of assistance with a no knead recipe!

I'm new to this forum, and while I normally pose my baking questions to family members, none of them seem to have the ability to help me.


I started baking bread a few months ago, and while I had some trouble in the beginning I was finally able to master a basic white loaf recipe from King Arthur Flour.  Maybe I'm taking too much of a leap here, but I am just not satisfied with the sweetness of that bread.  I want something fluffier, more like a sourdough.  After doing some research, I found this recipe for a no-knead bread which promised me that time would do all the work.  I blame myself for being lulled into a false sense of security here, because my first attempt was just awful.


The first rise has generally gone well.  After this, I turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and sprinkle it with a little more flour, then fold it over a couple of times.  I let it rest for 15 minutes, then put it back into the bowl with a towel saturated in cornmeal.


IT'S ALWAYS THE SECOND RISE THAT DEFEATS ME!!!  It never quite rises properly this second time, and then when I go to turn it into my heated ceramic pot, disaster strikes.  The dough clings to the towel like a spider monkey, and when it plops into the pot it does not look happy at all.  The loaf comes out flat and rubbery, but I don't want the bread to know it won, so I eat it anyway.


1. Could it be that the bowl I am allowing it to rise in is too small?


2. Could the pot I am cooking it in be too big?


3. Is there a possiblity that I let the first rise go too long?  I gave it the requisite 18 hours, but if I have class or something it could be a bit longer.


I'm at a loss here, and I could really use some suggestions.  I'm generally a pretty good baker, and I am confident in my baking skills - sometimes to the point of conceit.  But for a unicellular fungi, yeast has certainly mustered the strength to knock me off whatever horse I was riding on 3 months ago when I embarked on this journey. 


Defeatedly yours,


NoKnead in VT

giertson's picture
giertson

I know your frustration, particularly with the dough 'clinging' to whatever it is you put it in to rise after shaping. Here is how I have found rather consistent success:


First, I lowered the hydration of the loaf. It was and still is an arbitrary amount each time, but just a little extra flour makes the dough easier to handle and even gives it a little more height when baked. This does, of course, alter the crumb somewhat - not too drastically though - so if the results are not quite what you hoped for, it would be simple to return to Lahey's suggested hydration. However, since you found the loaf flat and rubbery, perhaps a decrease in hydration is exactly what you want.


Next, I need to ask, what do you mean by 'fold it over a couple of times'? What I do is stretch it out into a regtangle and give it a letter fold. Then rotate and do another fold, this time bringing the dough together tightly and forming a boule.


Finally, I dont even bother with using a proof basket or bowl. The dough, as you said, it quite wet. Since I dont keep something like bran around to prevent sticking (as the wet dough just soaks up flour) I just let the dough rest on my board. Lay down a generous amount of flour, rest the boule on it, sprinkle some on top and cover. To get it off the board and into the pot I just use my bench knife to scoop it up and turn it into my well flour hands, and then I simply drop it in the pot myself (seam side up).


 


That, at least, is how I do it and I have been please with the rather consistent and excellent results I have had. But of course it really is all about finding what works best for you. Good luck!


 


-Seth

NoKneadinVT's picture
NoKneadinVT

Hi Seth-  I am going to try lowering the hydration tonight and see what happens.


As for folding, I dump the dough onto the floured surface, and then stretch it a bit into a rectangle and fold it like an envelope, as you described.  When you form the boule, the squished up part goes on the bottom, right?  I may try the parchment paper method described below to help with the sticking - besides, I'm running low on clean cotton towels these days : /   Do you cover it with saran when you let it rise on the board?  I've seen some folks use a towel. 

giertson's picture
giertson

Your shaping technique sounds good, so no need to worry there.


Parchment paper does often work well for sticking, though you will still need something on itbecause that dough will most certainly cling. Also, cotten towels do have a tendency to stick to dough as well. If you have any linen, and thoroughly flour it, that would work a bit better if you ever decide to proof in the bowl.


As for when I lay it on the counter, I cover it with whatever strikes my fancy. Saran wrap works well, as does a moist towel.


Finally, the suggestion below about having a small bread board you use for transfers may be another good idea. If you are in anyway hesitant about my suggestion of actually handling the dough and placing it in the pot yourself, go with the transfer board. Just use a small easy to handle wooden cutting board - or any board really - and proof it on there. When the time comes for an over transfer you just turn it over and let the dough drop in.

ermabom's picture
ermabom

I have made both the Artisan Bread in 5 mins and the Lahey recipe. I never folded either of them.


For the Lahey recipe, I put it on parchment paper and then just lower the parchment paper into the heated pot so there is no dumping or sticking.


The ABin5 recipes ask you to form a gluten cloak and then place on a peel. I find that using a lot of flour prevents sticking during the cloaking. Then I put the loaf on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. I slide the parchment paper onto the stone with the loaf on it. Again, no sticking.


 


 


 

NoKneadinVT's picture
NoKneadinVT

Erma -


I've been using the Lahey recipe.  So for the second rise, you line the bowl with parchment paper coated in flour or cornmeal or whatever?  Due to the fact that he specifically says to use a cotton towel, I assumed the texture had some effect on how the dough was rising... although it could just have more to do with keeping from sticking to the bowl.


How does yours rise while baking?  That's my other big problem, is that it keeps coming out flat-ish. 

Dillbert's picture
Dillbert

and it can be a bit tricky to work with.


I turn mine out onto a floured plastic board - just the right size for dumping in a preheated pot, covered with the first rise bowl, looks like:


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr267/DilbertD/qtrtspDough.jpg


bake in a 6" dia x 4" deep pot - covered ,uncovered, looks like:


http://i490.photobucket.com/albums/rr267/DilbertD/qtrtspBaked.jpg


using KA bread flour I've found a 1/4 tsp of aesorbic acid helps with "height"

NoKneadinVT's picture
NoKneadinVT

do you mean ascorbic acid?  where do I find that?

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

Ascorbic acid = Vitamin C. Probably the simplest, cheapest(?), most convenient source is ground up vitamin c tablets from the grocery, or drug store. That is, if you don't already have some on hand.


Very, very little is required. Like 1/16 teaspoon per loaf.

BettyR's picture
BettyR

That is a beautiful loaf!!


 


Are you using Jim Lahey's recipe?

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi!


From your description I think you are over proving in the first stage, as your dough does not have enough life in it to cope with the secondary stages.


Can you adapt your process to take account of this advice: temperature comes to mind, as well as yeast levels/activity


best wishes


Andy

NoKneadinVT's picture
NoKneadinVT

I've been using 1/4 t. of instant yeast, as this is all the recipe calls for.  I have it in a large glass bowl, covered with saran wrap, in my pantry which is a few degrees warmer than the rest of my house (about 72F I think).

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi NoKneadinVT,


Try finding somewhere cooler and noting the temperature.   Also try reducing your yeast levels.   For this to become truly meaningful, you may wish to purchase some digital scales, and get used to weighing the yeast accurately to single grams.   It may seem a bit of a drag, but it's essential if you want the control you are looking for here, as a very small quantity change is going to make a very big difference.


I weigh all my ingredients, water included, and I'd advise anybody to do the same.


Best wishes


Andy 

Dillbert's picture
Dillbert

vitamin C


 


aka ascobic acid - I use "Fresh Fruit" - found in the canning supplies - used to preserve color when canning.

shuttervector's picture
shuttervector

I use a plastic bin with a cover. This is the same type of bin I use to store different types of flour. These bins have printed marks on the sides so you can easily measure height and quantity. I buy these at Smart and Final which is a discount store in San Diego. I do all the mixing of ingredients, proofing, folding and stretching, couching, etc. in the one bin that I spray with Pam or a substitute spray periodically during the process. The dough does not stick to the sides of the sprayed plastic and when ready you can dump it directly into the hot pot. I have found that a plastic bowl scraper is the best tool to use for a simple stretch inside the bin if you think you need to develop the gluten. I do not put it onto my counter for stretching and folding.


I have also had varying results during the second proof and I think it the length of time the dough sits out that causes the problems. 


Cheers,


Dorothy shuttervector@gmail.com

reyesron's picture
reyesron

You are getting a lot of suggestions, and they are all good.  In reading and re-reading  your entry, I wonder about the folding you're doing after the first rise, as well as the rise being 18 hours.  I've done 5 or 6 different no knead recipes, maybe more, and I do get somewhat different results with all of them.  The more foolproof ones are those of Jim Lahey, and of Breadtopia, however, I get more concerned with the appearance of the first rise as opposed to the number of hours.  When the blob has doubled, or more, and the surface is pock marked like the surface of one of saturns moons, I'm happy.  I hesitate to do anything that might degas the blob and after I get the shape, I want to see some bubbling on the surface during the second rise.  The reverse layup, that is dropping it into the clay bottom, or the dutch oven upside down is meant to even out the chambers, from top to bottom during the oven spring.  Yesterday I did the Jason Molina 4-5 hours ciabatta for the second time, which is not a potted recipe, and did not lay it in upside down as called for, whereas the first time I did.  I got the taste, and the crust, but I got the crumb of wonder bread.  The first time, with the upside down laying, I got classic ciabatta chambers.  To more specifically answer some of your questions, I would say, if you think your bowl is too small, it probably is.  I don't think the pot size can be too big, although it might, and you may be letting it rise too long, and you may be degasing it with the folding.  Lastly, make sure you've preheated your oven a long time, more than a half hour at your temperature, which should be 500 degrees for the first ten or fifteen minutes, 450-475 thereafter.  Let me know if any of that makes sense, please.     

margieluvschaz's picture
margieluvschaz

Hello-


check out www.breadtopia.com  they have free instructional videos on the no knead.  I use parchment paper a pp suggested.  I also add a bit more flour as another pp suggested.  When I shape my boule I get a tight skin across the top that with vertical slashes/ scores on the loaf works really well for me.  I found if I over proofed the dough it really effected the oven spring as well.  Good Luck!


Margie 

008cats's picture
008cats

Sounds like you're getting it sorted out; just wanted to add that if you want to use the/cloth bowl thing (I chill in the bowl with cloth as I like the dryness it gives to the dough surface for slashing and springing), you need to select the right TYPE of cloth to use. Does it have a textured and/or loose weave to it? or is it smooth and tightly woven? I had your problem until I stopped using tea-towels and used a densely woven pillow case with a little flour. Now I can easily invert the chilled bowl onto parchment or whatever (cover bowl-top and flip over), and easily peel the pillow case away. This has given me more control over dough shape (less spreading) and a superior-looking slash-and-spring.

008cats's picture
008cats

I meant to mention that I also do first rise in a low plastic container. I find it works easily, removes the need for extra flour with wet doughs, and if you get a clear one, you can look up underneath at the dough and see what kind of bubbles are forming.

NoKneadinVT's picture
NoKneadinVT

To everyone who gave me advice - THANK YOU!  I FINALLY succeeded in making the airy, crispy loaf I was aiming for all this time.  Here is what I changed:


1.  I cut down the initial rise time.  Lahey's recipe said the dough would be ready when it was bubbly, and it looked right at 13 hours, so that is when I started the proofing process.


2.  When I proofed it, I tried the boule method described to me, and I did it on a parchment covered wooden board instead of the marble one I'd been using.  After that, I just covered it with saran and let it proof there rather than transferring it back to the bowl with all the flour.


3. When the second rise was complete, I picked up the whole thing with the parchment paper, and just put it in the pot like that - no deflating or any of that business.


4. I baked it for 30 minutes with the lid, then took the lid off for another 10, and perfection.


Thanks again to everyone who offered their tips and tricks - I'm really new at this, but I am really enjoying it and I am eager to keep working at it : )


 


-Jenna

giertson's picture
giertson

Congratulations! I hope you continue to have success.

rhomp2002's picture
rhomp2002

Once I used it for no knead, I never tried anything else.  It just works so well.

Dillbert's picture
Dillbert

>>Are you using Jim Lahey's recipe?


yup.  works like a charm!  I use an 18 hr first rise - but we run a cool house - when heating the thermostat is set at 68'F.  the 'second' rise varies by how much time I forgot to get to it.  varies from none to an hour.


I started fooling around with the vit C thing in an attempt to get better loft.  silly as it sounds, a quarter tsp dash really does make a difference.

reyesron's picture
reyesron

I mentioned this before on another thread, but in 2009, wtih the NYTimes gourmet guy, Jim Lahey mentioned turbo charging the first rise by using warm water and a 1/4 tsp of red wine vinegar which was an optional change to the 2006 recipe.  It cuts down on the proofing time to about 6 hours.  I've tried it both ways, and the original way is a tad better.  I don't mind waiting the 12-18 hours but I'm also at times impatient.  In both cases, it's ready when the bubbles are forming on the blob.