I’ve been playing around with making a quick, whole grain, no-knead bread which is an oxymoron given that it ferments for about 20 hours. It’s the whole wheat flour that’s throwing me off. Some of my experiments weren’t even edible … too dry, not enough salt, crust like rock. To reduce waste I’ve been making smaller loaves. I’m down to just a cup of flour for my experiments.
1 cup flour (3/4 whole wheat, 1/4 white)
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
You can view the no-knead technique here. There are three essential steps: 1. Mix the ingredients. 2. After 18-20 hours, shape dough. 3. After 1-2 hours, bake.
Some rules-of-thumb I’m learning:
- Use about half the amount of water to flour, a 1:2 ratio. If you’re using whole wheat flour, you’ll need more water. That little bit of white flour does make a holier, chewier loaf.
- Use about 1/2 teaspoon of salt for each cup of flour.
- It’s the long, slow fermentation that creates flavor. By long I mean a minimum of 12 hours. By slow I mean a room temperature in the upper 60s or low 70s. If I make this in the summer I may put it in the fridge overnight.
- This exact (1 cup flour) dough makes a great pizza crust. I rolled it out and baked it on a hot pizza stone – no topping but it made a great flatbread!
- The hotter the oven, the better. You get better spring. I’m now using 520 degrees.
- Letting the dough proof on parchment and gently lowering it into the hot pot is easier but it doesn’t produce a high, fissured loaf. Plopping it over into the pot is better, albeit messier.
- Don’t cut into it when it comes out of the oven. Wait at least 30 minutes for the crust flavor to develop, preferably one hour. (It’s hard!)
This is one of my one-cup-flour loaves. It’s small, maybe 4 inches across, like a kaiser roll. I’m happy with the taste and the texture: moist and chewy. Now I have to work on scaling it up. Some of my 3-cup-flour loaves formed great fissures. I’m hoping to get there again. Will post more as I experiment.
I’m updating this with another test loaf. I’m slowly scaling it up. This has 2 cups of flour.
2 cups flour (1.5 whole wheat, 0.5 white)
1.25 cups water (this will vary, humid day? less, more white flour? less. Good to err on the wet side.)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
I let it rise for 2 hours after I mixed it, then into the fridge. On baking day I took it out, let it come to room temperature, formed it, proofed it for 2 hours, then lowered it into a hot dutch oven on a piece of parchment. (I gave up on the Jim Lahey plop-over method; it’s just too messy.) Sounds like a lot of work but most of it is waiting.