no-knead bread re-visited
J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has an article in the NY Times revisiting no-knead bread. While I didn't learn anything new about techniques, there is a nice history of the famous Bittman article.
However, this made me think of a perennial question: why aren't "no knead" recipes more popular? The name is a little misleading, because many "no knead" recipes do use some stretch-and-folds. However, the use of long room temperature fermentation (instead of pre-ferments) is relatively rare. Reinhart doesn't use it in his books, for example, though he does sometimes use cold fermentation. I can think of a few possibilities:
- a long time at room temp won't work for perishable ingredients (milk, butter, etc.)
- a longer time window to be checking the dough for readiness
- in a commercial bakery, it means more space taken up by dough that's fermenting
But those points aside, is there any difference in texture or flavor between a no knead bread with a few stretch-and-folds and a more traditional pre-ferment approach? I haven't done scientific side-by-side comparisons, but my impression is there isn't much difference in flavor (if anything, I often find preferments bland in comparison), though I sometimes wonder about texture. I would love for a more rigorous test.
I'm also curious about application of no-knead to new areas (baguettes, multi-grain breads, etc.) I do like the simplicity of no knead breads and how they can fit nicely into a work schedule. (Yes, I know there are other ways of doing that with the fridge.)