Before I start in on the bread making escapades I would like to thank Magic of Spice for becoming a follower of my blog!
Have you labeled yourself a misfit when it comes to the bread making department? Have you ever felt like throwing in the towel after you have wasted a day (and more dollars) in a failed bread experiment? Fear no longer, my doughy-distressed comrades….I have the bread recipe for you....courtesy of the Wandering Coyote :-)
I am a big fan of the Coyote who hosts the blog ReTorte and so I hate to disappoint her with my “epic fails” in the bread making department. She has been so helpful, so patient, when explaining the bread making process. That is why I waited until I could post a success story !
Behold - The No Knead bread, Coyote detailed the No Knead bread on her post HERE. (This is also a Mark Bittman recipe from November 2006)
I would be willing to bet there are many of you out there who are reading this and shaking your head over my inability to conquer a simple loaf of bread. Just like some folks are good at math (I suck at that too), some are talented with sewing (I inherited my great grandmother’s talent, she once had a sewing machine needle pierce her finger) and some can write well enough to get published (Go Janel !! )
Uh-oh…I’m starting to sound like the poster child for an Ameri-can’t……..
But there are lots of things I can do. And there are things that I can do relatively well after practice. Betcha lots of folks fall in that category! As a general rule, I think practice makes everything better. Here is what I accomplished after practice. It was not too doughy, not too chewy....you can tell I'm not Amish because I am bragging on myself - this turned out very nicely. Great texture.
Here are lessons I learned along the rocky road to a great loaf of bread. It's important to share this so you'll know what NOT to do; this will benefit any bread making misfits such as myself.
This loaf was too wet…because if your dough has too much water…add some flour. I didn’t do that here…….clearly………
Again I experienced some trouble. Not a lot….but part of it was using the wrong yeast. No Knead bread was not difficult to toss together, I just had to plan out the 18 hours rising time so I would be home from work in time to tackle stage 2 of the process.
Measuring out the ingredients at 11 PM was not a huge chore. As a matter of fact, you could pre-measure the dry ingredients and be ready to add the water later. Unfortunately, the day I planned to start this bread I discovered the only yeast on hand was Rapid Rise Highly Active yeast. Unbeknownst to me, this was also the wrong yeast for this particular recipe!
THIS is the yeast I should have used.
Later I looked more closely at the recipe and saw it called for instant yeast. I didn't know instant yeast and bread machine yeast is the same thing. Learn something new all the time "-)
Well, I was ready to try it out and used the active dry anyway, which meant I had to heat the water.…….it smelled fermented by the next day…not too awfully strong but…..but you could smell it. It was also too wet but I thought it was too late to add flour.
I baked it in a cast iron 5 quart pot and it came out OK. We ate some with soup the next day. The crust was more like chicken skin that had a crisp crust. It was tasty, but crunchy. The inside was a tad chewy. Well ok…really chewy. Your jaws will have a workout unless you allow your soup broth to saturate the bread.
Next experiment (this was something like the third time on that particular recipe, me all the while peppering Wandering Coyote with questions) – I used the instant yeast.
Let me state a few things about this recipe - if you are looking at the one from the link, the Mark Bittman column from 2006.......don't use the cotton towels and don't use a dutch oven the size he mentions. He calls for a 6 to 8 quart size. I think an 8 quart would be way too large. Make a flat loaf.
My Le Creuset is a 5 1/2 quart but it has the phenolic knob which means, you can not use in temperatures over 375 F.
After much searching in local shops for a KitchenAide 3 1/2 quart dutch oven (it will take the 450 F temperature) I concluded that I'd have to order it online. No KitchenAide pot ( the size I wanted) to be found. Anywhere. But I can't order the pot now..........so we went with a Lodge cast iron dutch oven and which will take temperatures to 500 F.
It's a heavy mother though...and it's 5 quart capacity. AND it can't be used on the stove top (I have a ceramic glass surfaced Jenn Air stove) so it's great for the oven...but can't go from stove top to oven like the Le Creuset. Oh...how I wish I had an oven that was electric but a gas stove top. Wouldn't that be cool? That would be a dream.
I got side tracked....OK, so this Lodge is a good pot and made a pretty loaf of bread but I think I'd like to go for a taller loaf and not have the dough spread out on the 5 quart size. That's my goal......
Bottom line - I had success after many attempts, many failures. Some were epic and inedible. Some were just extra chewy. So....for anyone else having bread making issues, don't give up! The right combination of ingredients, measurements, equipment must be in order and when you find that combo...you'll feel a swell of pride at the end result.
Thank you to the Wandering Coyote!
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