The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

No Knead Bread on a Stone?

FossilPeddler's picture
FossilPeddler

No Knead Bread on a Stone?

Hi Folks,

I am brand new to the forum, but I am a pretty accomplished artisan bread baker. Mostly I make breads from Amy Scherber's book, Amy's Bread. I found the forum because I was trying to find a hint about how long one can effectively retard bread. I made some bread with a sponge on Sunday and I am just going to bake it today, I will let you all know how it turns out if anyone is interested.

However this post is about "no knead" bread. I had noticed it on this forum but didn't take the time to find out what it was all about. Then on the front page of our paper's "Taste" section (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) there was a huge article on this technique. What it didn't explain, and what I would like to know is... what is the magic of putting the dough into a dutch oven or La Cloche or some kind of receptacle? Can one make the dough, form a loaf, let it rise, then slide it onto a stone an bake normally?

Thanks in advance,

FossilPeddler

TRK's picture
TRK

The magic of the cloche or dutch oven is that it traps the steam from the loaf, and holds and radiates heat from all sides, mimicking a brick oven more effectively than a regular oven.  I think this results in a thicker, crunchier crust.  Others have more experience with this method than I do, so they may chime in as well.

 

Tim 

Larry Sims's picture
Larry Sims

I've gone thru baking cycles for years, and really like the "closed" baking environment, whether you have a wet, sloppy dough, or a more "normal" one.  I live at 6000 feet with virtually no humidity in the air and have always had trouble with crust, spring, and no holes in the crumb (I have learned some things on this site, by the way!).  By experimenting with the cast iron dutch oven (and other containers, my most recent being a ceramic casserole which was the best so far), I have gotten some really nice loaves.  I have increased the hydration some (from my old levels), but not to the level that it first appears on the New York Times article.  I even used a couple of metal saucepans with lids and got good loaves.  The container should bear some resemblance in volume to the loaf you are baking (too big and you get a 2 inch thick big round - just like on the Stewart video), and the temps will change and the time needed will change with the mass of the container and its construction.  I dropped to 450 degrees with the casserole, and it still browned very quickly, while at 500 in a metal saucepan you can cook it forever with no browning.  All the experiments have been very tasty, and now that I have figured out the relationship between size of loaf and container, I am quite happy!

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

It's definitely do-able on a stone. If you'e worried about transferring it I'd turn it out onto a piece of parchment and then load it with a peel. I shaped it into ciabattas once and used a linen couche to rise them.

 

I didn't find it got a thick, crunchy crust, and was not super fond of the moisture level--but I only tried it a couple of times. It is a cool technique though--I just tend to think it's better for beginners -- if you're already fairly advanced I think it's more of an exercise to learn some new techniques....

ehanner's picture
ehanner

The media picked this up and a baker in New York got famous by going on Bittman's and Martha Stewart shows and demonstrating the process. You can still go to Martha's site and watch the video clip and see how they did it. If you watch carefully you will see that they scoop more flour than is called for in the recipe and Martha pats and french folds her dough a couple times although she claims not to Knead it.

I agree with breadnerd that this is mostly interesting to folks who are beginning to work with dough. I tried it three times on a stone with different covers and enjoyed the bread. I think there have been some people who ruined their clay cookers and ceramic coated dutch ovens. I'm not a fan of dropping a cold blob onto a thermally sensitive 500 degree pot.

breadnerd's picture
breadnerd

Good point on the thermally sensitive pot.  As I consider my Le Creuset quite an investment, and also that I love it with an unholy love, I wouldn't risk it for this recipe :-)

This would be a great candidate for picking up a cast iron or old clay cooker from your local re-sale shop.  I love investing 2 or 3 bucks to try out an unusual baking pan (wierd shape or materials) and then if I don't like it I can just donate it back!

friedbrain's picture
friedbrain

all you knead is love.

Hi-

This is my first time here.  I actually came upon this site because I was searching for a reason  for  my two time disasters making this simple recipe.  I am not a novice but both times I created terrible results in a beautiful cast iron dutch oven that I have used for many other (nonbread) recipes.  First time: dismal rise. Second time: burnt crust on nice crumb.  I will mix it again and try one last time but I will use a pyrex dish instead.

Am I the only person in the world having difficulty with this recipe? 

  
rose1234's picture
rose1234

Nope, I'm having some problems with gumminess myself.

 I've dropped the temperature of the oven, removed the formed and lightly browned loaf from the pot after the first 20 minutes and extended the cooking time by 15 minutes, so now it is a LOT less gummy and the crust isn't black in some spots, but its still more moist than I would like it.

 But I think it has great potential. I've begun using my own starter with it. I can get a decent amount of  good active rye/wheat starter in 3 days now. It has improved the taste quite a bit, but now I have to let it rise for less than 18 hours, lol.

 It's all been a great learning experience and I'm adapting other recipes to use with the dutch oven technique. I'm finding the Bread book to be invaluable.

So as a starter loaf (I used to just make bread in my bread machine, then I went to just using the machine to knead the dough and now I'm onto better things, thanks to this no knead bread), its been a great and wonderful learning tool.