The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My Daily Bread

Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

My Daily Bread

About a month ago I ran across the website "The Italian Dish" which contained a post titled Amazing Artisan Bread for 40 Cents a Loaf - No Kneading, No Fussing, No Kidding.

This is the author's take on the no knead bread baking technique and the book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

As most cooks do, I modified the recipe and technique to suit my own schedule and the ingredients on hand and came up with a method I've been employing in my bread and pizza baking. The basic recipe is:

5 cups flour (usually half AP and half bread flour)

2 cups water

1 Tbl. sugar

1 Tbl salt

1 tsp. instant yeast

I have experimented by varying the types of flour, including semolina for a portion of it and using honey in place of sugar.

I mix these ingredients by hand into a pretty shaggy dough, which I allow to rise until doubled. I then place the container into the fridge.for at least 24 hours. The longer, the better. After it comes to room temperature I shape it into a loaf or pizza and bake.

Lately I've been pouring 3 or 4 tablespoons of olive oil over the dough when I place it in the fridge. I don't wash the container between batches.

The bread resulting from this dough, with or without olive oil, with or without semolina, most closely resembles and tastes like ciabatta. It is very, very good. The longer it ferments, the better the flavor. I wish I had a larger container.

The quality of the bread as well as the ease with which it's achieved has made me a happy baker.

I'll experiment further and report.


Grandpa Larry's picture
Grandpa Larry

I've been watching YouTube videos lately about no knead whole wheat breads.

I Thought I knew the basics of that technique. After all, I've watched the Jim Lahey videos a couple of times, and it seems simple enough. I do realize that there have been modifications to the basic recipe with the intention of shortening the time it takes to make a loaf,  but the amount of yeast people are adding to this recipe has me astounded.  There are any number of videos showing people using a tablespoon of instant yeast, and in one video the recipe called for three tablespoons of instant yeast!!

There are two potential problems I see when shortening fermentation this drastically in a no knead loaf.

The first is that the gluten in this dough may be under developed. My understanding of this process is that "no knead" bread isn't really no knead. The slow action of the yeast over a long period of time, the formation of gas and bubbles expending and stretching the dough in effect, accomplishes the same thing as human hands or a Kitchenaid dough hook.  Shortening the process shortens the kneading time.

The second problem is simply that too short fermentation does not give the yeast and other microbes the time to develop the flavor so appealing in no knead loaves. In my experience, at least 24 hours is required to produce a really tasty loaf.

I'd appreciate comments from other members on this topic.

While I have the floor, there's another topic I'd like to comment on.

This time of year many local super markets stock 2 ounce cubes of fresh yeast. I've been using it the past couple of weeks and I find it to be incredibly active.  In my own no knead recipes I generally use a scant 1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast.  Using about 5 grams of the fresh I get as active a dough as I can remember ever having. The flavor is great too! I'll really miss it when it's gone.

Anyone out there have any success freezing it?