Is something wrong with the flour?
I figured out that at least part of the issues I've been having with the no knead breads is the flour ratio. I have kitchen scales, but I've been trying to use tools that most home bakers would have on hand. Therefore, I've been using my measuring cups instead of weighing the flour and then adjusting the flour to water ratio as needed. I've gotten used to the feel of the dough of traditional yeast breads so that has been working well so far.
However, no knead breads are a little bit different since you're not kneading the dough - duh! After the mishap with the ciabatta, I decided to weigh the flour. I know, I know, why didn't I just do that before? Well, all I can say is that old habits are hard to break. Plus, I love bread baking for the art. I know the science is important but I didn't want to get that geeky about it.
Well, I decided it was time to get geeky - actually I guess I already had, I was just in denial. So I weighed the flour and as it turns out, my favorite measuring cup only holds 4 oz of flour. So for recipes that call for 3 cups of flour (ciabatta, for example), the actual weight is 12 oz. However, the weight specified in the recipe is 15 oz - a difference of 3 oz. For this easy white bread recipe, the weight specified in the recipe is 32.5 oz for 6 1/2 cups of flour. However, my 6 1/2 cups of flour only weighs 26 oz. From now on, I will be weighing the flour for these no knead breads.
Are you ready? Let's get baking!
If you would like to bake along with us, turn to page 29 in Kneadlessly Simple to locate the recipe and list of ingredients.
Easy No Knead White Bread
Makes: 2 loaves (we'll make one loaf and use the rest of the dough for sticky buns)
Mixing the dough:
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. In a measuring cup, whisk the oil into the water. Stir this mixture into the flour scraping down the sides until the mixture is thoroughly blended.
If the mixture is too dry, add additional water, a little bit at a time; however, don't over-moisten it because the dough should be stiff. Or, if it's too soft, add a little extra flour. I didn't have to adjust the flour/ratio at all this time. It's very humid here.
Brush or spray the top of the dough with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours.
Then let the dough rise at cool room temperature (about 70 degrees F.) for 15 to 20 hours. If convenient, stir the dough about halfway through the rise.
The timing and temperature seem to be the trickiest part of this no knead method. I like the long fermentation process but you do have to plan a little bit. It's very hot outside and I don't keep my temperature too cool inside (definitely not 70 degrees in the summer). I've been letting the dough rise at about 80 degrees F. I usually start the process at night and let the dough rest in the refrigerator all night. Then it sits on the counter all day. I'll have to try these recipes in cooler weather to see the difference.
Note: To fit in with my schedule, I made the sticky buns one night and put the rest of the dough back in the refrigerator until the next night.
I transferred the dough to a clean bowl and put it in refrigerator. The next day, a few hours before I was planning to bake the bread, I let the dough rest on the counter to warm up to room temperature before doing the rest of the steps listed below.
Shaping the loaves: (continued from the day before)
Stir the dough very vigorously and add more flour if necessary.
Then, cut the dough in half and place the portions in two well-greased 8 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pans.
I'm making no knead sticky buns with half of the dough so I'm only making one loaf of bread. I had already separated the dough so didn't need to do that for this step.
Press the dough into the pans using a well-oiled spatula.
Spray the top of the dough with cooking spray. Make a 1/2-inch deep slash lengthwise down the center of the loaf. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap sprayed with oil.
For a regular rise, let the dough rest at warm room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours until the dough nears the plastic.
Then remove the plastic and continue until the dough reaches 1/2 inch above the pan rims. Dust the loaf evenly with 1 tablespoon of flour.
Baking the bread:
15 minutes before baking time, place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F until the top of the loaf is nicely browned. Then, reduce the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer, until the tops a well browned and a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few crumbs on the tip. Cover the top of the loaf with aluminum foil to prevent over browning, if necessary.
Bake for 5 to 10 minutes more longer to ensure the centers are baked through. At this point, my bread was done. I didn't need to bake it an additional 5 to 10 minutes.
Cooling the loaves:
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out the loaf or loaves onto racks and cool thoroughly.
Serving and storing:
Cool the loaves thoroughly before slicing or storing. I placed a tea towel over the loaves and let them cool for about an hour.
Store in an airtight plastic bag or wrapped in aluminum foil. The bread will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, and may be frozen, airtight, for up to 2 months. I don't think this bread will stay around very long so no need to worry about storing.
Thanks for visiting The Bread Experience Bread-Baking Blog. We hope you'll join us next time when we make no knead cinnamon swirl bread.