New York Times No-Knead Bread

Original NYT No-Knead Italian Bread (as shown on t.v.)

3 cups          All-Purpose-Flour (APF)
1/4 tsp          Instant Yeast
1-1/4 tsp      Salt
1-1/2 cups   Water

1) Mix all ingredient in a large bowl by hand until all the flour has been incorporated.  Cover and let it stand for 12 – 19 hours.
2) Pour moist and sticking dough onto a floured surface.  Stretch the dough out gently and fold the 4 edges toward the center, as if wrapping a parcel.
3) Invert the folded dough, with seams facing downward, on a powdered (cornmeal or wheat-bran) towel.  Cover and let it stand for 2 hours.
4) Preheat the oven and a cast-iron pot (with its cover) to 515degF.
5) In the swiftest motion, remove the flaming hot cast-iron pot from the oven, remove the cover, flip the dough over into the pot (now seams facing up), cover the pot and return into the oven.
6) Bake with the pot covered at 515degF for 30min, then remove the cover and turn down to 450degF and bake for another 15min.

1.  This recipe uses very little yeast but relies on time to age and prove the bread.  This produces more flavor.
2.  There is no kneading to refine the bread texture, so large and uneven holes are expected.
3.  There is no attempt to shape the bread, so odd and unique loaves are expected.
4.   It is hard to calculate the hydration (% of water over flour weight) of this recipe because flour is not measure by weight.  I would estimate it at around 80%.  This is considered a heavy bread.
5.  Covering the cast-iron pot attempts to steam-bake the loaf to create the characteristic thick crust of Italian breads.
6.  Uncovering the pot at the end allows the loaf to brown and caramelize nicely.

In Reality:
1.  The density of flour varies between brands and packaging.  My 3 cups of organic 12% protein flour resulted in a runny dough, definitely much wetter than 80% hydration.
2.  Proving in different temperature and humidity stimulates different yeast activity.  My dough was at its maximum volume shortly after 4hrs.  By the time I waited till 19hr, the dough was too flat and “tired” to rise.  The flavor was fantastic, though.
3.  Baking with the seams facing up produces a very light bottom, but the top is totally unpredictable.  Sometimes one side rises too high and gets burnt prematurely, as least in my tiny toaster oven.
4.  It is VERY difficult to attain the art of flipping a sloppy dough into a flame-hot pot.  Try it and you’ll find out all the heartaches.
5.  Lastly, baking with seams facing up, there is no surface tension to enable scoring of the surface to produce your desired crack pattern.

This is one of my earlier achievements – a very low and dense loaf (far from ideal):

Look out for my modified recipe in the next post.



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