No-Knead Bread: Your Experiences

No-Knead Bread

I am not a bread baker–I reserve my weights and measures for the sweet stuff. But last Saturday, The One and I spent the day with one of LC’s testers, Cindi Kruth. She made the New York Times‘ famous No-Knead Bread using her 23-year-old sourdough starter named Lex. (Why it’s called Lex, don’t ask me.) She was kind enough to give me some of the starter, which we re-named “Lexi, the Spawn.” Here’s my first attempt making the bread using no commercial yeast, just Lexi.

I was wondering what your experiences were with the No-Knead recipe? I feel it needs much more salt (about 2 tablespoons in total), but I was pleased with the rise and shape of Spawn Bread, and its crust was fantastic. I hope as Lexi gets older, it’ll develop more of a sourdough taste–still too adolescent for my taste.

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Comments

  1. Well, I’m one lucky girl because I have celiac disease and can’t eat gluten, so there’s no need to knead my bread to begin with. Are you jealous?

    I’ve yet to try a spawn-of-Lexi type starter, but I will share with you why those of us who dabble in the parallel universe of alternative flours don’t bother kneading. Gluten is the storage protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It’s what gives kneaded dough it’s elasticity, texture, and acts as the leavening agent.

    Yes, I know, all good qualities.

    But, if gluten is what gives kneaded dough those qualities and you can’t include gluten in the mix, then you get to go directly to bake and skip the kneading process altogether. Ha-ha-ha. We get to do this every time we bake bread. So there.

    Having said all that, I refuse to agree to a taste test with any of you. Even you, David (no offense, but you did say you’re not a bread baker).

    Cheers,
    Melissa

    1. So YOU’RE the original no-knead baker. You’re like Baker Zero. Well, if I can’t seduce you into tasting my bread, perhaps you can convince me to try a gluten-free morsel. But I’m warning you now, I’d rather fight than switch.

      1. I should have said baking contest, rather than taste test.

        But yes, I was there first, doing the no-knead thing. However, the NYTs never contacted me about my bread. You New Yorker’s get all the attention.

        Melissa

    1. Cindi, I took I cup of Lexi and mixed it with 3 cups of bread flour, about 1 1/2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of salt. (I’ll bump that to 2 tablespoons next time.) I made the shaggy dough, then followed the recipe’s directions. The only thing I did differently was flip the dough so the seams were on the top so that when I plopped it into the pan, they wouldn’t show.

      Next time I think I’ll take your advice of letting it proof in the fridge at least 18 hours then at room temp until doubled–maybe that will give it some more interesting sourdough flavor.

  2. I found out about this fairly early after it hit the big time (I live in Central Illinois, it takes a while…) and have had good success with it. I agree with you that it needs more salt, so I add more too. Cook’s Illustrated (Jan/Feb 2008) had a No-Knead 2.0 that recommended adding some beer and vinegar to the original, but I don’t think it added all that much extra taste. I’ve been experimenting with adding herbs and spices and cheeses to the mix, and that’s working out much better.

    The biggest fault I’ve found with the original is that it instructs you to put it in a 7-qt. LeCreuset. The first time I did that, it turned out so flat it was like…uh, a flatbread. Now I use an oval 4.5 quart LeCrueset pot and it’s perfect. My teenager would eat an entire loaf for dinner with dipping oils if he could!

    ~ Peggasus

    1. Peggasus, thanks for the info. Glad to know someone else uses more salt. I’m always accused of being a salt fiend, but this really needs it. And I agree with you about the pan size. My friend Cindi, from whom I got the recipe (and Lexi the Spawn Starter), uses a small pan, too.

      What kinds of cheeses and herbs do you add?

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