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dmun 11-08-2006 08:21 AM

bread video
This article in todays NY Times about breadmaking draws upon the low-yeast, high-hydration, long rise methods that pizza makers have been talking about, with a couple of variations: It uses a covered cast iron pan for half the baking to get the needed steam, and it uses no kneeding, and almost no mixing.

It's from Jim Lahey at Sulivan St. Bakery in NYC.

Worth a watch. Times articles are only up for a few days.

Here's the link

james 11-08-2006 01:07 PM


This is very creative. What do you think? A very moist, long-fermented dough that gets just enough steam from the cast iron pan. Crafty. It makes me think back to my many bread experiments where I just overworked the dough -- or pizza parties where an inexperienced pizzaiolo (of child) really works the dough hard to get a good shape, only to make a tough pizza. This system seems very gentle.

If you have a brick oven, steam and a nice cooking environment are built-in, but if you don't, or want to bake bread without firing the oven, this is pretty spiffy. I'm going to try it.

Comments anybody? Jim?

As an off-topic side note, the 1/10th timeshare advertised at the bottom of the page for $650,000 is just up the road. Tuscany is crazy expensive.

CanuckJim 11-09-2006 02:52 AM

No Knead Bread
David, James,

This is very interesting indeed. There are several bakers out there experimenting with this type of thing, one of them is the Englishman, Dan Lepard, in The Handmade Loaf. There are also very low yeast recipes for pizza dough that have very long ferment times.

I will definitely be trying this method in the near future, but I wonder about the flavour and gluten development using all-purpose flour. Personally, I'd use a 50/50 mix of hard bread and AP. My biggest question is how well the gluten develops without kneading, but the proof will be in the making.

It looks just too, too simple. No reason it couldn't be done in a brick oven.


dmun 11-09-2006 04:56 AM

Last night I stirred the dry ingredients together, and added the water, and stirred just enough to make a lump. I used active dry yeast instead of instant, just what I had. I covered it in the mixing bowl with a towel. It didn't take five minutes. It sat overnight at room temperature (instead of my 110 degree cracker warmer). Those used to seeing dough blow up like a baloon are in for a disappointment, but I understand it's not that kind of party.

I don't have an iron dutch oven, let alone a fancy le cruset number, but I have a heavy cast aluminum one from wagner, with a heavy close fitting lid. I'll use that for the test.

Pictures and report later.

james 11-09-2006 05:29 AM

Can't wait to see. If anyone wants a nice enamelled cast iron pan, alla le creuset, but a lot less expensive, check your local Ikea. They have a new line of bakeware, and it doesn't have a plastic handle on the lid. I think I am going to do it.

Not sure if you can order it online.

maver 11-09-2006 01:15 PM

cheaper than le creuset
I asked my wife to pick one up for me when she went to the store near us recently but she forgot. It looks perfect for oven use:

james 11-09-2006 02:01 PM

That's it. Thanks. We're heading to our local store to pick one up up on Saturday.

dmun 11-09-2006 04:05 PM

bread saga

Here's the dough in the bowl after the 18 hour room temp. rise. Some skin and crusty spots.

Turned out onto the pastry cloth and spread out.

Folded once. Really wet, and hard to handle.

Folded twice, and formed into a rough ball

dmun 11-09-2006 04:12 PM

bread saga

The pastry cloth folded over the ball for the second rise

The dough ball after a two hour rise. Note the tiny bubble on top.

The dutch oven pre-heated in a 500 degree oven for 30 minutes, lid too.

Disaster! The dough ball is a sticky mess that sticks to everything. I scrape up as much as I can, and throw what I can get off my hand into the hot pot. I'm pretty much disgusted, and have lost about a quarter of my dough. Needless to say, there is no elegant loaf formation here. Hot lid goes on pot, oven closed.

dmun 11-09-2006 04:23 PM

bread saga

Imagine my surprise, half an hour later, to see a perfectly formed little boule in the bottom of the pot, already a lovely tan color. I'm supposed to leave the top off for 20 more minutes, I give it ten.

The loaf is too charred on the bottom, and sticks in the center.

But it really looks good, like something from a Parisian Boulangerie

The bread had big holes, crisp crust, good taste. Just like in the bread basket of a white tablecloth restaurant. I'm very pleased.

There's a lot to learn, mostly about handling super-hydrated dough. Clearly the second rise shouldn't be on the pastry cloth, perhaps right on the counter. The dutch oven probably shouldn't be on the very bottom oven position, but one up. The times recipe, as opposed to the video, calls for 475 instead of 500 f, perhaps a good idea.

But who could imagine that you could make something that looks and tastes like this with house brand unbleached all purpose flour, in a domestic oven. I feel like my baking skills have taken a leap forward.

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