sarahamiller, Feb-19-07 23:34:44:|
Hi Perrin, It's been way too long since I checked in with The Recipe Files, but I hope that my advising privileges have not expired.
I have been making this bread about twice a week since the article appeared in the Times. Sometimes, Patrick and I just eat a loaf of it with olive oil and wine for dinner. I'm going to try to give you some tips, but it seems like every one who has posted something about this recipe on the web has modified it in a different way.
Here's a link to a Pittsburgh food blogger who has sort of been keeping track of the whole No Kneed phenomenon: www.lindystoast.com/2006/11/minimalists_sul.html
1. I use less water. I don't have a scale, so I'm sure that my flour measurement differs every time, but I never add more than 1 1/2 cups of water, and sometimes as little as 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons. You want your dough mixture to incorporate all of the flour, but not sit in a puddle in your bowl. And, as it rises, it will become more liquidy. I've used different types of yeast, and I've only used all-purpose flour because I can't seem to find bread flour in these parts.
2. I sit my bread right in front of a heating duct while it rises, which makes for an environment well over 70 degrees. I've let it go 28 hours and I've done as short as 6 hours for the first rise. Longer is better, but not tremendously better.
3. When I plop the dough out of the bowl for the second rise, I've found that I need to coat my hands and "work surface" with a good amount of flour. I fold the dough over on itself a few times, adding enough flour to my hands to keep it from sticking directly to me or the counter.
4. I've ruined a couple of "non-terry" towels by setting the dough directly on it for the second rise. These days, I'm using a Silpat liner underneath, which seems to work pretty well, but you still have to cover it with a towel. Sprinkle flour under and on top of the dough before covering it.
5. I think that the second rise really helps with the "flatness" issue. I've also found that a 2 hour second rise is better than a 1 hour one.
6. Heat up your baking container a full half hour in your oven before you put the bread in, and make sure that your oven is really hot. If your container is hot enough and if your dough ball has enough flour sprinkled on the outside, it shouldn't stick. The dough will still be pretty loose when you put it in the pot. You can't really pick it up and transfer it. You have to pick up the surface it's rising on and flop the dough in upside down. Shake your baking container a bit to even out the dough if it folds over on itself.
7. I have never cooked the bread for as long as Bittman suggests. I do 30 minutes with the lid on and 10-15 with the lid off. My bread starts burning after that.
8. This bread is really good with oil-cured black olives and rosemary. I add extra stuff of this sort as I'm taking the dough out of the bowl for the second rise.
This recipe is really worth tinkering. I haven't bought a loaf of bread in months.