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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Novice Foodie: No-Knead Bread, No Need for Dishcloths

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 3:14 PM

click to enlarge KELLI BEST-OLIVER
  • Kelli Best-Oliver
I have made mention of my terrible baking skills before, noting my failure-in-triplicate to reproduce the infamous no-knead bread faithfully. Yet I am a sucker for punishment as well as crusty bread, so I dared myself to try just one more time to not completely screw up a recipe that only involves four ingredients and little complication. I mean, I was a little tired of hearing "Just try Bittman's recipe!" when I said I suck at baking. No, really, I messed that up three times.

I. Suck. At. Baking.

There were a few things I identified from my previous attempts that might help me in my quest to succeed with no-knead bread. First, I had to pay attention to the time frame. No-knead bread requires an initial rising of at least twelve hours. (This is why you don't have to knead it -- time does the work.) Then there is a second rising of two hours. I needed to time when I made the dough so that I'd be around for the second rising and subsequent baking. This time, I made the dough at night, let it rise overnight and then completed the second rising in late morning. Working from home helped.

The second problem I have when baking is not measuring precisely. This time, I was as accurate as I could be, leveling off the measuring cups and spoons with a knife without shaking the contents. (If I were really a super-baker, I would have weighed my flour, the most accurate way to get a precise measurement. However, I don't own a food scale, so this wasn't an option.)

The third problem I've had in the past is possibly expired yeast. I had recently purchased yeast, so it wasn't a problem. With my suspicions of prior failure alleviated, I moved on with the dough.

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