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Revisiting NKB from Jim Lahey & "My Bread"

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Revisiting NKB from Jim Lahey & "My Bread"

Recently we have had a few posts on people having issues getting the No Knead Bread to turn out a wonderful as it should. Jim Lahey has just published a new book called "My Bread" that I thought might be fun to take a look at. It isn't an expensive book at $16.60 and has many variations on his original recipe as well as many popular variations of offerings at the Sullivan Street Bakery.


I thought I would start with the basic formula which is all Bread Flour. It almost came to pass but at the last minute I swapped out 5% of white for rye. I love what a small amount of rye does to a simple white flavor. All of Lahey's formulas call for 400 grams of flour and 300 grams of water and 2% salt. The variable is the yeast which runs from 1-3 grams depending on the additions. The resultant hydration is 75%.


One concern about the KNB process is that the chance of mixing a smooth silky dough with no lumps is diminished by minimal mixing and no kneading. After my initial mix, I went to check the dough after an hour and found many clumps of partially hydrated dough. I know that these clumps will result in inconsistency in the crumb. So, I deviated from the script and did a frissage, (squishing the dough with the heel of your hand while sliding it across the counter) which broke up the clumps. Now I have a smooth cool dough that will set at room temperature for at least 12 hours.


Somewhere along the way, the NKB process took a turn towards what I would call normal breads in that Lahey now wants us to do a second fermentation after a brief shaping. The book calls for flouring a towel and setting the bread in a bowl to "proof". I used a linen lined basket and let it proof for 2 hours.


Interestingly, the procedure calls for the final ferment (proof) to be done seams down and baked seams up. No slashing is called for so the bread expands on the weakness of the bottom seams from shaping. It worked pretty well on the two loaves I have done although I would have liked a better spring.


I baked the loaf in the Lodge Combo Cooker, 15 minutes covered and 15 open at 460F. The internal was just over 203F. I didn't get the wildly open crumb structure that is shown in the book image but it's very appropriate for the bread, and delicious.


There are several very interesting recipes in Chapter Three "Specialties of the House" that are on my to-do list. The Italian Stecca with tomatoes and garlic pressed in the top of a stick. Then the Beyond water section, there are several interesting selections. The carrot bread looks like it would be fun and tasty. It uses home made juice extracted from carrots for hydration. So here is my first crack at the new "My Bread".


Eric



Just a little course corn meal prevents scorching on the bottom.



 

Comments

Franko's picture
Franko

Eric, 


I've always wondered what advantage in final product there is to a no knead bread, other than not having to knead it. Does the flavour or texture result in anything significantly different or superior to what could be made using traditional methods? Your loaves look very nice, with a profile quite a bit higher than I would have thought achievable considering the minimal workup. I'm interested to see what your next bake produces using this method, now that you've done a trial run. Great post as always Eric!


Franko

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Franko,


When the No Knead Bread method first came out I tried it a few times to see what the deal was. I've never seen any advantage to the process except the convenience of not having to fool with the dough much. This got popular because so many people who were intimidated by kneading discovered they could make decent bread. If you know anything about the usual skill needed to bake, you will find this method missing the details you normally look for. I like the book for what it brings to new bakers. Confidence, understanding you can make several variety's of bread with subtle additions and understanding fermentation. You can't help but do a little shaping on the way to proofing once you know about it.


Eric

meetmike's picture
meetmike

Picked up a Lodge 5 quart Dutch Oven after Christmas specifically for Lahey Bread, and also picked up My Bread. I'd made the basic no knead loaf several times when the NYT article appeared. Unfortunately, the high temps were pretty harsh on one of my wife's older Le Cruset deep pans; the bread, however, had great spring, although tended to scorch a bit on the bottom. Having revisited the basic no knead loaf a dozen times this winter, I have found it all that Lahey promises in My Bread. Some of this I attribute to the Lodge DO, which hasn't scorched any loaves and seems not even to need any cornmeal in the bottom. The loaves spring decently--who doesn't want even more spring--and the crust is yummy crusty, the crumb with lots of holes. Have found that pulling the formed boule along the counter into a slightly tighter ball makes for a more shapely loaf and slightly higher spring, but probably comes out pretty much the same without this step. Also, final proofing in round wicker baskets for 2 hours far easier than messing around with floured towels or parchment, and makes the transfer from basket to DO easily and safely--the transfer always has been the trickiest part of the process for me. Know what--even if the proofed loaf lands a little off-center in the DO, still is going to be great bread with a rustic look. Usually do 30 minutes covered at 475F, then 15 minutes uncovered; really important to give DO lots of time to come up to temp. And lately putting my stone in to heat as well; can't hurt. Important and fun to listen to the cracking of the cooling loaf, and to give it the full hour at least to cool. As to My Bread, I found step by step photos to be really helpful. And while there are a bunch of variations on the basic loaf I'm looking forward to trying, and some other breads, as books go I'd call this a pretty slim volume somewhat padded and not necessarily worthy of shelf space. So many books, so little space! Still, there are lots of thrills to be had using the No Knead approach and I'd recommend it to all. Mike in Maine

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Good Afternoon:


 I am so thankful that your did a details study on NO Knead Bread. I taught Bread Baking (my first) from my home 4 days ago. I choose Jim Lahey first recipe and had seven students.  They are adults but hardly had any experiences in Bread making. We watched Ciril Hitz "you tube" bread shaping. I baked my NKB bread and all tasted the hot bread with Jam and love it.


Each student then mix the dough and were instructed to take it home, bake it and show "their babies" the next day on line to everyone in the class.


You should see all the pictures and the exictement the next day! Some named their bread"cowbaby" since it spread into a huge bread.( It was the husband and wife team and they put their dough together).  Another one of my student put her loaf to show off on her face book and there were more then 10 comments about her bread from her office friends in DC.


Of cause I told them about TFL and wildyeast web site. It is very satisfying experiences to me to see the love of baking and confidence built up with bread baking among them. Now they want to form a bread club. They didn't know that Bread making could be so easy.


They were afraid of making bread becasue of the time and kneading prospect but now they want to do more.


Your sourdough raisin bread is my favorite Eric and I hope to get my sourdough starter start up again so my students can  make and taste the wonderful taste of sourdough breads( mine die last Nov. when I was in the wheelchair for two months after my leg operation). thank you for your write up.


mantana

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Mantana, your kind words and the story about sharing your knowledge is very comforting. It is a blessing to be able to share such a thing with others. It does seem to be the fear of kneading and actually getting your hands into the process that keeps some from trying. The No Knead process seems to help take that leap of faith into baking so many have enjoyed.


Keep up the good work Mantana. I'm glad you like the sourdough raisin bread, it's one of my favorites. So glad to hear you are on the mend. I would be pleased to send you a bit of my starter if that would help you get started again with sourdough. Just send me a side private message with your address and I will send you a chunk of mine.


Eric

breadsong's picture
breadsong

Hello Eric, This is a nice write up of your process.
I enjoyed reading Mr. Lahey's book when I borrowed it from the library awhile back.
Thanks for the reminder of the Italian Stecca bread - I loved the look of that bread...I'm holding on for tomato season.
from breadsong

ehanner's picture
ehanner

 I didn't want to do a book review but simply a review of the changes in the process as I remembered them and to see if I could duplicate the results. Also, the pizza offerings are great and quite unusual. I made the potato and also the zucchini last week and they were quite good. Really the whole book is flavored by the Italian style of the baker. There are many old classical Italian recipes I had never seen. I'm looking forward to working my way through the book. Lahey is a happnen guy in NY who is serving up delicious and unusual foods and doing well.


Eric

breadsong's picture
breadsong

...I think I'm going to have to take another look at Mr. Lahey's book based on what you've described!
:^) from breadsong

Thaichef's picture
Thaichef

Good Morning Eric:


  Thank you very much for your offering!!! I am so.....grateful( and I am sure my students too).  You can contact me at the address on my market web site:www.monetasmlmarket.com, or my Thai cooking school www.lakethaichef.com.


My mouth watered just thinking about your great bread!


   I volunteered as a market manager at the Comunity market . This year we provide free market spaces for vendors. In this way local growers and farmers can come and make some  money for themself.  We get to eat great veggies and fruits and the money stays in our community and not foreign lands.We pay for the web site, the up keep, the inspection fee, the insurance. 


Most of my students like good foods so that  is why they come and learn how to make bread, Thai foods and others.


   Our next bread  class will be your bread, Eric( the Raisin bread).  I probably have to "tweak" the recipe so beginner students understand it.


It is people like  you who make this web site so great. I learn everything from people on this web site.


Thanks again.


mantana

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

I have really enjoyed your posts, Eric, thanks for taking the time to share your experience & beautiful loaves with us.  I wanted to ask you about the frissage technique since you are someone who uses it.  Do you think it changes the finished product of a bread at all?  For example, do you think it changes the crumb consistency?  Or is it something that you simply use when the dough is lumpy?  I am using the stretch and fold method, usually, but when I do the slap method or a frissage before the S&F's the dough seems to be silkier and better developed.  I don't have enough baking experience to know whether these things affect the finished product or not so I am hoping that since you use all these techniques that maybe you can share your experience with me on when/why you use them.  I realize that you may have explained these things in another post and if so, feel free to just direct me there.  Thanks so much!

ehanner's picture
ehanner

It's interesting that you bring this up. Recently I have been trying to learn what it is that creates lumps in the dough, and how to avoid them. My conclusion so far is that if you quickly incorporate the water with a dough whisk or spoon there is a smaller chance you will get lumps. If you leave the water in the bowl with the flour after pouring it in for even 30 seconds, I find that it starts to form heavier lumps that will need to be broken up.


The frissage and or S&F will do the job but both will work out  better if you wait 30-60 minutes after initial mixing to allow the flour to absorb the liquid evenly. I like using the large dough whisk for quickly mixing to a shaggy mass. Works for me.


On the No Knead bread method. I suggest you try it using yeast as called for in the recipe first. Not that you can't use a natural starter to accomplish the same thing, but you will see how the various steps should look like and feel like, the way it was designed. Your results would be varied depending on your starter and how active it is, how much of it was used to inoculate the dough and so forth. When I do a SD slow ferment bread, I generally use a large Tablespoon of active starter and ferment at 76-78F in a cabinet above the fridge. Hope this  helps.


Eric

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

It does help, thanks.  I was wondering if you still used this method:


"So, without complicating things.



  1. Mix the ingredients together just so the flour is all wet. The mix in the video looks like about 65% which is a usual basic dough.

  2. Dump the dough onto the counter after 5 or so minutes and do a frisage with the heel of your hand. Scrape the dough together, form a rough ball and back into the same bowl. No oil needed really.

  3. Cover the bowl with a plastic bag or towel or plastic film if money is no object and wait 30-45 minutes. The dough will finish saturating and become more slack.

  4. Dump the dough back on the counter and do the French fold. Watch the movie again and have fun with this. 4-6 times should be plenty to arrive at the quality that Sourdough-guy gets in his video. You won't believe how well the dough develops in such a short time. Notice how he stretches left and right first then slap and roll up the ends, this is magic!

  5. Now knead for 15 minutes--Just kidding! Please, no more kneading!

  6. cover the bowl again and wait for the bulk ferment depending on what you are doing (yeast/sourdough) more inoculation or yeast means shorter ferment less flavor. If you use SDG's basic formula for example a 12 hour ferment is expected but temp and activity of the starter will dictate how long for a double rise.

  7. Gently remove dough from bowl with plastic scraper and divide, rest for 5 minutes and form for final proof.

  8. Place dough on parchment paper and slide in oven on a sheet pan. Place a cup of boiling water in the back of the oven with the dough and close the door to proof. Turn on the light.

  9. When proofed, remove water cup, slash and bake as normal from cold.

  10. Expect maybe 10 minutes longer bake times when starting from cold."


this post of yours is from a few years back so I was wondering if you still do the same thing or do you skip the frissage part?  I am thinking you probably skip it unless there are lumps to get rid of.  I am still trying to find information on it, this week I am trying to learn more about the different kinds of dough development & the differences they make on the crumb.  I think I am understanding the different stages of gluten development, but of course now I am learning that it isn't as simple as that, the end crumb has to do with several different factors and there are different methods to get to the same outcome.  But boy, I sure admire your glutinous crumb, Eric, I really would love to be able to get there consistently. 

ehanner's picture
ehanner

After re reading what I wrote back then, I still do pretty much the same except that the French Fold is only done upon condition. I tend to under mix (especially if I use a mixer) and finish on the counter with a few rounds of the FF. That really works well to get the dough into a manageable and organized form. If you watch the Bertinet video, you can see at the end when the dough becomes "right". The temptation is to over do the maneuver to where it tears and you want to avoid tearing the outside strands.


I think the one thing I have learned to do since back then that has improved my crumb is to work with higher hydration. I know 65% is a common number for French style dough but, if you learn to handle 70 or even 75% hydration on the counter and allow a good long rest after initial mixing (it's not really an autolyse because the salt and yeast have been added), your crumb will be well hydrated and you will get those gelatinous cell walls and silky dough condition. Higher hydration, more stretch and folds and less kneading, only what is needed for strength at the end of fermenting.


The last thing I would say on this is that I have learned to "read" the fermentation progress. That is, after the dough is mixed, rested, and starting to develop, it is ready for fermenting. Using a transparent container so you can see the gas bubbles forming on the sides of the container before a series of stretch and folds is very helpful. I now watch for those bubbles more than anything else in deciding when the fermentation has gone on long enough. It will have also grow in volume while creating those larger gas bubbles but if you want an open crumb, you have to have 1/4-3/8 inch bubbles or more visible in the bowl. Then, handle with care so you don't pop them (degassing) when dividing and shaping.


Eric

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

This is great info and I really appreciate that you took the time to get back with me!

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Sometimes you need to step back and look at what you are doing now, to see that there has been a gradual change in the way you do things. At least I do any way. I'm basically looking for a way to do things that work well and aren't any harder than necessary.  This forum is a huge help for discovering techniques that anyone can use to improve your skills. The thread started out titled about Revisiting NKB from Jim Lahey, which is in itself a technique that has evolved in the last few years without much notice.


Glad you found the exchange helpful and I hope to see the efforts of your labor in these pages.


Eric

oceanicthai's picture
oceanicthai

I was wondering if you remember what your room temperature was when you made the No Knead Bread.  I tried it and ended up with a disaster.  I think it had to do with the temperature & the fact I was using a sourdough levain instead of yeast.  I don't feel comfortable with this method, not simply because my bread was so awful but I feel funny not doing anything to my dough first before it ferments/proofs.  I haven't baked with rye yet, just BF & WW, so next time I am at the flour shop I think I will get a little, I keep reading how delicious even a little bit is.

kvolluz's picture
kvolluz

Hi.  Thanks for this post.  I, too, purchased a Lodge 5. qt dutch oven and Jim's book concurrently for the sole purpose of making Jim's bread.  (Now, I've also found great non-bread uses for the dutch oven but that's irrelevant -- makes great pot roast, by the way).  As you mentioned, I also wanted a better spring after my first few loaves.  So, here, at least is what I (as a novice baker) did to get better results.   First, I switched to King Arthur bread flour and SAF instant yeast (I had been using Whole Foods bread flour and Fleischmann's active dry yeast).   These changes helped very much but did not result in an entirely satisfactory effort. Then, I posted my problems on The Fresh Loaf (same forum as here) and received other suggestions, namely, to change my recipe so that it would better fill the 5 qt. dutch oven (i.e., make a larger loaf). For the Lodge 5 qt., now I use:  4c flour, 1/2 tsp yeast, 1.5 tsp salt, and 2.25 c water.  I use water that is not hot but very warm. And, for wheat bread, I use 2c bread flour and 2c wheat flour with 1 tsp yeast.   This larger loaf recipe is entirely satisfactory and consistently results in loaves with great spring that I am proud to show and serve to people (not just family).   Finally, I still use Jim's original recipe without modification when baking with my Staub 2.5 qt. cocotte -- this smaller pot renders a great, tall loaf with Jim's original recipe.   Good luck to everyone with Jim's techniques...........

ehanner's picture
ehanner

I'd love to see your breads from the recipe you describe. I think you are using a larger pot than I am with my Combo Cooker. I do also sometimes use a larger pot but I'm not sure what the actual capacity is. The Combo Cooker is not a pot with a cover, it is a pot with a fry skillet for a cover. The advantage is you can use the more shallow skillet to bake on and use the deeper side as the cover. It's way easier to load the dough gently and get it centered, or if you want to move it around, you don't burn your fingers doing so. A 2 Lb loaf is about all I can bake in it and the spring is great enough that it will some times hit the top of the pan just a little.


Eric

kvolluz's picture
kvolluz

Eric, sounds like you are using the Lodge LCC3 Combo Cooker (11 x 15 x 4).  My Lodge L8DOL3 5 qt. Dutch Oven is 10.25" diameter and 4" deep.   My Staub 2.25 qt. cocotte is 7 7/8" diameter and 3.5" deep.  When using Jim's original recipe and the Staub, I, too, experience a spring that flattens out against the lid of the pot -- I think the solution to that problem will be for me to purchase the Staub 4 qt. cocotte but I hesitate to do so in light of the price.  Yes, certainly, I will be happy to post a few photos of my next loaves of bread irrespective of the pot used.  

kvolluz's picture
kvolluz

Eric, here's a picture of my latest loaf as requested.  This is my "larger loaf" recipe posted under the heading "My Two Cents" above.  Nearly 8.75" across the bottom and a nice spring as well.  Once I cut it open I will let you know how high it measured.  

kvolluz's picture
kvolluz

ehanner's picture
ehanner

That looks great!


Eric

kvolluz's picture
kvolluz

3.75" at widest point.


 


kvolluz's picture
kvolluz

3.75" at widest point.


 


kvolluz's picture
kvolluz

3.75" at widest point.