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Reliable CI no-knead recipe falls apart when adding cheese and chilis

sirwired's picture

Reliable CI no-knead recipe falls apart when adding cheese and chilis

I've made Cook's Illustrated's "almost-no-knead" recipe many times, but the variation that adds shredded cheese jalapenos is giving me fits.

The basic dough is 15oz flour to 10.5oz liquid (3 oz beer, 7oz water, 1/2oz vinegar), 1/2T salt, 1/4t yeast.  It forms a pretty, if not prize-winning loaf, and is low-effort to make.  (Make the dough, rise 8-18 hours, knead 10-15 times and form, rise two hours, bake @425 for 50 minutes in a dutch oven.)

One listed variation is to add 1c shredded cheese and 2 sliced jalapeno peppers during the initial mix.  The first time I made it, it rose a lot, then fell after coming out of the oven.  The second time it did the same.  The third time I added some "dough enhancer"; it spread out in the oven, and I ended up with a disc-shaped loaf.

I have attempt #4 on it's second rise now, and the dough simply didn't come together.  It was a sticky, unmanageable, mess, and refused to form into a ball.  The jalapenos don't appear dessicated to any significant degree, so they don't seem to contribute much moisture to the loaf.  I'm at a loss.  The bread is delicious, but simply will not behave properly, and I can only make so many loaves of this specialty bread before I get tired of it.

gerhard's picture

but often I will make a dough and split it to make two loaves, one with inclusions and the other without. I find often the bread with inclusions will not rise as high as the one without, I have always attributed it to gravity and the ability of the dough to suspend the inclusions.

phaz's picture

I'd have to say the obvious - nix the dough enhancer. I would also forget the vinegar, it is often used to limit gluten development, and that's not what ya want in this case. Enjoy!

justkeepswimming's picture

For the few loaves I have made with inclusions, adding them during lamination (instead of during initial mixing) worked better for me. I wonder if that would work well on this recipe?

sirwired's picture

Well, I figured it out.  I was making another attempt, and was checking the expiration date on my bag of cheese.  I happened to glance at the ingredients list, and there at the bottom:  "Natamycin (A Natural Mold Inhibitor)"

A quick Google check, and... Natamycin has another use: Treating yeast infections.  I'd say that would do the trick.  I think I used cheese from an older, open, bag for the first batch, and maybe the Natamycin was wore out? Anyway, after the batch I just put together probably flops, I'll give it a last try using block cheese.