The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Jim Lahey no-knead bread recipe help?

akat417's picture
akat417

Jim Lahey no-knead bread recipe help?

Hi, 

I'm a new baker.  I thought the no-knead bread recipe by Jim Lahey looked interesting so I tried it.  I have already mixed all the ingredients together, but I am using KA whole wheat flour.  I let the mixture rest for 20ish hours and I just took it out and folded it.  However, I found it to be very wet and hard to handle.  Is this normal or should I add more flour?

Also btw I am planning to bake it on a cookie sheet because I don't have an iron pot.  Will this be okay?  I'm assusimg I won't get the same crust though.  Right?

Also, I was wondering if oiling the bowl with olive oil/etc (as it says in some recipes) is necessary.  

Thanks

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Akat417.  I have never tried this recipe but wanted to try it when I first started baking bread last summer.

I am assuming by your post above, that you are using only whole wheat flour and no bread flour or All Purpose flour.  If this is the case, your main problem is deviating from the recipe.  Even myself, who has baked bread for almost 5 months now, learned the hard way too many times NOT to change the recipe in any way.  Especially since you are still in the learning stage (so am I) it is very important that you learn from the exact recipes and then once you have mastered them, move on and try to add your own flair.

I am sure others can back me up on this, that by using only whole wheat flour, you do not have nearly enough gluten development, which will make the dough extremely sticky.  When I first started making bread, I was thinking that using white flours were unhealthy and all I wanted to do was bake whole wheat and rye breads.  Well, I learned fast that you NEED bread flour and/or All Purpose flour to produce the dough strength.  This will take away the extreme stickyness you are experiencing.  There are ways to compensate the lack of gluten development whole wheat flours have, by using vital wheat gluten, but this is something you should try first in recipes that actually call for it.

I always lightly oil the bowls I rest the dough in.  The small amount does not effect the bread at all and it prevents it from sticking to the bowl.  If the dough sticks to the bowl, it tears the gluten strands when you perform the stretch and folds, etc.  This will destroy the gulten development you are trying hard to develop.

As for the cookie sheet, you will only be able to get away with basic results using this method if you follow a few steps:

1. LIGHTLY oil the sheet pan then sprinkle some corn meal evenly so the bread does not stick.  OR you can use parchment paper on the cookie sheet.

2. Try to find a lid deep enough to produce some steam baking which is important for this particular recipe.  You don't have to do this step, but you will not find the results nearly as good as Jim's photos show.

If you own a turkey roaster, you can get great results from it as a good steaming/baking vessel.  Some have said that using a roaster even produces better results than a dutch oven. I can not comment on this, as I have never tried the dutch oven method.

Let me know if you have any other questions, and welcome to this amazing world of baking breads.

John

carefreebaker's picture
carefreebaker

I bake Lahey's no knead often. When I make a loaf with ww flour, I also add bread flour or vital wheat gluten. 

I only let the dough rest for 12-18 hours. I do not want to exhaust it.

You don't need an iron pot. Do you have a covered roaster or stock pot? I've used both along with a Dutch oven. All worked fine.

The dough will be  wetter then you might be use to. Use a dough scraper to help you work with it. 

Oil or no oil for bowl, either way is fine.

You can use a cookie sheet, just place the dough on it and stretch it out and make ciabatta. 

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Looks like we are on the same page carefreebaker :)

I am actually quite surprised that the user did not complain of a dry dough.  You would think using that much whole wheat flour would soak up too much water.

John

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

You can see my post on my roaster steaming method here:

http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/30020/my-steaming-method

Good luck!

akat417's picture
akat417

Yes, I did only use ww flouyr in this recipe.  I think I am going to get some all-purpose flour as you said.  (Thanks for the tip)

I added a bit of whole wheat flour to the bread when I was shaping it, but it was still very wet and sticky.

I went ahead and let it rise for the final time.  It had spread out very far, almost off the cookie sheet (haha).  

I just put it in the oven.  It probably will be similar to ciabatta.

Thanks a lot for the help though, you all seem very knowledgeable.  

Great looking bread btw songofthebaker

Song Of The Baker's picture
Song Of The Baker

Thanks Akat417.  You can make bread just as good, just remember to follow recipes bang on.

Also, if you can get bread flour, get it.  It develops better, stronger dough strength than all purpose.  Both have their uses in bread.

When you use flour to dust the work surface or the dough surface, don't use whole wheat.  You will experience the same issue of stickyness.  Use all purpose if you can.

Happy baking,

John

BurntMyFingers's picture
BurntMyFingers

Lots of people who are not regular bakers seem to have only whole wheat flour in their pantries. Seems healthier, plus if it costs the same as "regular" flour why would you not want it... more for your money!

However, this is actually a pretty specialized flour which is always used in combination with APF or BF unless you want a very heavy loaf. Even "whole wheat bread" is typically as little as 40% WWF.

aka417, I expect your bread is out of the oven now and you've found it's not ciabatta. Irrespective of the gluten content, the sheer weight of the whole wheat is going to keep it from rising much if at all. Start with APF or BF for your Jim Leahey experiments then gingerly try 10-20% WWF. Good luck!

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

You can make good tasting, lean, 100% whole wheat bread with a good rise and an open crumb, but it's tricky. Enriched doughs with 100% whole wheat flour are much easier.

FWIW, I tried to make Leahy's bread a few times with 100% whole wheat flour, and got nowhere. The bread just never came together very well and was flat -- not quite flat as a pancake, but maybe flat as a very thick pancake. With holes. And definietly not with the fantastic taste you get when it's made with AP flour.

Karien Achterberg's picture
Karien Achterberg

You might get some help at www.artisanbreadinfive.com. It is different, especially because there is no overnight rise at room temperature, but the site provides many useful help, also for creating steam. 

I tried also different kinds of loaf 'pans', but the best is still the Dutch oven, which I am happy to own, yet slightly too large and often in use for other purposes... 

Susubaker's picture
Susubaker

I am new to this method of making bread. I have tried the basic recipe and the raisin walnut recipe several times. The bread seems to be lacking flavor. The texture is great but just blah! Do you think it is because there is no fat in the recipe?

 

Alpana's picture
Alpana

Jim Lahey's breads are my go to breads when I need a sure winner and have very little time in the morning. I have never found lack of flavour a problem. Did you use the entire salt as per recipe? He says that you can use less salt, but recommends full amount for best flavour & I agree. I use the weight measurements in grams. Also the dough is supposed to be quite wet. It should be sticky. His raisin walnut bread is the most liked one in my friend circle, so I make it quite often. The cinnamon in it is a kicker. It also makes excellent croutons to pair with tomato soup. 

If your salt is as per recipe, do try to extend the bulk fermentation to full 18 hours (or 24 if it is very cold). After bulk fermentation, the top should look dark & bubbly. I live in very hot climate, so 6- 8 hours is maximum for me, but if I bulk ferment in fridge I allow it 24 hours. 

Play around with the salt, hydration and possibly bread flours, till you find what suits you. This is a convenient and forgiving recipe to have in your repertoire when you want sure results and have no time to think a lot. 

Alpana

 

Susubaker's picture
Susubaker

Thank you Alpana I will try your suggestions. I have used the full salt amount and did an 18 hour fermentation however my home tends to run a bit on the cold side so maybe I should try to let it ferment longer.  I wonder if you've tried to add fat to the recipe and fermented in the refrigerator ?

Karien Achterberg's picture
Karien Achterberg

I often use several diferent spices to give my breads more flavor: chili powder, paprika powder, curry powder, whatever I find in my cupboard. I even use tomato ketchup sometimes, mixed with the water first.

Alpana's picture
Alpana

No, I have not tried adding fats to Lahey's recipes, but have added many other things, like different seeds, grains & dried fruits. His carrot juice bread also works quite well, specially with the cumin seeds. Why don't you try the cheese or olive breads? In olive bread, he is assuming that the olives are in brine. In case, you get olives that are not in brine (like mine), do add extra salt. 

When I am short on hands-on time, I have converted other recipes to no knead method, by increasing hydration & decreasing yeast and got very good results.  If you have any recipe whose flavour  you like, you can  adjust water & yeast to Lahey's percentages (making allowances for different flours or additions) & keep the rest from original recipe. That way, you will get the flavour from your favourite recipe & convenience of no knead method.  

 

PeterS's picture
PeterS

Lahey's calls for 3c flour. That could be anywhere from 360-450 g (about 3/4 to 1 lb) of flour depending how tightly packed your measuring cup is. With 12 oz water, that would give a baker's percentage hydration range (water weight/flour weight) of 100-75%--which is a huge variation.

The latter hydration, 75%, will give you a more manageable dough especially if you are not going to bake in a pot. 1-2 folds before the dough goes into the bowl for proofing also helps.

Master the recipe as published (and at 75% hydration and with all bread flour), then try replacing the bread flour with whole wheat in 10 or 15% increments until you get a bread that you like with dough you can manage. As you replace the bread flour, and as the others have noted, you will have to up your water content to maintain the dough's consistency due to the higher water absorption of the whole wheat flour. If I recall correctly, this recipe does well with 15-25% whole wheat. When you get above that you will find the crumb (the inside part of the bread) getting significantly more compact and dense.

As you become more experienced and build your comfort factor, you can also try increasing the hydration.

The best advice I can give you is to get a small scale and start measuring your ingredients by weight and don't change more than one variable between bakes until you get your hands around the recipe. Your results and consistency will improve, and you will avoid a lot of grief & frustration.

Spokaneman's picture
Spokaneman

I am also new at baking bread. In fact, if it wasn't for the "no-work" element, I would not have tried! I've only made one loaf so far, following Leahy's recipe exactly (although, it seems like there are many basic versions floating around). Still, it turned out amazing and I'm anxious to bake more and play around with the recipe a bit. This discussion stream is the most helpful I've come across yet! Thank you!

So, my lingering questions is, how long can you push the first proofing? My first attempt wound up being about 20 hours out of necessity. Like I said, I thought the end results were fantastic. I read in on of the comments here about "exhausting" the dough if proofed for more than 18 hours. I'm not sure what that means, but it sort of answers my original question. I also saw someone comment on proofing in the refridgerator. How long can you push that? I'm envisioning pretty much always having a batch rising, so am trying to figure out just how feasible this is and what my time limits would be. Thanks!

Spokaneman's picture
Spokaneman

I had also meant to ask other's experiences using other liquids, particularly beer. I had also seen in a post on some other site that someone recommended apple cider. Any thoughts/advice?

carefreebaker's picture
carefreebaker

http://allrecipes.com/video/513/no-knead-beer-bread/

I have not tried this recipe but plan to.

 

carefreebaker's picture
carefreebaker

http://m.youtube.com/user/artisanbreadwithstev

 He has a bunch of no knead videos worth watching on youtube

Spokaneman's picture
Spokaneman

These are fantastic. Thank you!

skyrose36's picture
skyrose36

It is possible to make good, 100% whole wheat no knead bread that has a good, airy crumb and that is not "heavy".  

The recipe is below: 

4 cups whole wheat flour

2 cups water plus about 1- 4 tblspoons water (depends on how much moisture your wheat flour absorbs)

2 teaspoons salt

½ plus 1/4 teaspoon yeast

2 Tblspoons gluten with vitamin C

1/4 cup honey (optional; but if you use, you probably won't need the extra tablespoons of water)

Mix it all up, and then let it rest at least 24 hours. This is key to making a decent whole wheat loaf - it takes much longer for the gluten to develop than when using white or even part white flour bread. The longer you let it rest, the better the result. If you have the patience, let it rest 48 hours and get even better results.

You bake this the same way you would the loaf with all purpose flour. 

Give this a try if you want to make a 100% whole wheat loaf. I am a regular baker, and when you use 100% whole wheat flour, you have to change your technique a bit to get a good result. 

 

 

akat417's picture
akat417

That sounds like a good recipe.  I think I will try it and see how it comes out.  Thanks.

barryvabeach's picture
barryvabeach

Skyrose36,  I have been baking with 100% whole wheat for some time now, and get pretty good results , except when it comes to no knead.  I have seen that recipe as no knead ciabatta - it recommended a 24 hour ferment, then shape , then 2 hour final proof, then bake at 425 for 35 minutes.  What is the recommendation for your bread in terms of final proof time, and baking temps.  Are you saying it needs a longer proof as well?

jshep's picture
jshep

I've been making the Jim Lahey bread with very mixed results and I'm not able to identify which variables are the issue so I hope to get some help.  I've probably made 7 loaves and only 2 have looked right.  All have tasted good, but 5 have been really flat and pretty heavy & dense - I've hardly gotten any oven spring at all.  Even has seemed as if perhaps when I had to drop it into the cast iron pot, all of the rising was lost.  It looked like it had risen on the towel, but then collapsed upon dumping into the pot and didn't rise again in baking.  Also not gettiing a crack on the top and I know he says there should be one. 

I am using a scale and adding ingrediants based on weight, but the weights don't seem right for my flour... if I use the weights he suggested the dough is really dry and has lots of loose flour even after I mix it.  Should it be like that?  I didn't think so, so I've always added more water to get a dough that at least absorbed all the flour.  But I'm confused about whether I maybe need an even wetter dough to get the oven spring, or perhaps should stick to the book exactly and use the very dry dough? 

I've made the plain recipe (came out the prettiest of any so far), the ww bread, the chocolate-coconut, and the apricot-almond.  I noticed those with 'stuff' added used half the amount of yeast... maybe I should use a 1/2 tsp instead of the 1/4 tsp of the recipe?  It also seemed as if the bubbles in my dough after the overnight rise, were pretty small, not really very bubbly.Thanks for help and suggestions about whether I should try to make it even wetter, or go with a very dry dough to get a nice round, risen shape with a crack.

So appreciative this resource is here!  Thank you!