Published January 1, 2008.
A no-fuss recipe that is revolutionizing home baking trades flavor and reliability for ease. Could we improve the bread's bland taste and make it rise high every time?
A no-knead approach to bread baking can produce loaves that look like they've been baked in a professional bakery, but the bread varies in size and shape and the crumb lacks the complex yeasty, tangy flavor of a true artisanal loaf.
We loved the ease of this approach and the extraordinary crust on the bread, but we wanted our loaves to have a consistent shape and deeper flavor.
No-knead bread is easy because it eliminates kneading, the mechanical process that forms the gluten (a strong network of cross-linked proteins that traps air bubbles and stretches as the dough bakes) necessary for bread structure. Our starting recipe (first published in the New York Times) uses two approaches to replace kneading: a very high hydration level (85 percent—meaning that for every 10 ounces of flour, there are 8.5 ounces of water) and a 12-hour autolysis period that allows the flour to hydrate and rest, (see "Autolysis" for further discussion). A preheated Dutch oven creates a humid environment that gives the loaf a dramatic opened crumb structure and shatteringly crisp crust. However, we found two significant problems: the loaf often deflated when carried to the pot, causing misshapen loaves, and the loaf lacked flavor. We first needed to give the dough more strength. We did so by lowering the hydration and giving the bread the bare minimum of kneading time (15 seconds) to compensate. We also figured out a way to transfer the bread without doing any harm. To solve the lack of flavor, we needed to introduce two elements that a starter adds to artisan breads: an acidic tang with vinegar and a shot of yeasty flavor. from mild-flavored lager.list of recipes