Sunday, November 12, 2006

Bread for dummies? Bread around the world

crust and crumb
This post -and the bread that is star of the show- is a result of the powers of the Internet. Yesterday night I had the most fun baking and mail exchanging at the same time, and as Angelika mentioned in her comment at My Kitchen in Half Cups the pc is demanding a place among modern days kitchen gadgets. (I really do need a laptop folks!).

It all started late Friday night with reading Lindy's post over at Toast in which she mentioned an article in the NY Times (There is a video to watch too). Finished reading and prior to jump into the kitchen to start this bread, I switched to Bakkerswereld forum and there a new post was up with the header: bread for dummies. Featuring? The exact same recipe for this bread. The next thing I knew there was mail waiting for me in which Tanna asked to read this post at Lindy's and included a link to the article ánd a copy from the original recipe..... All this in a matter of what? 15 minutes? How could I resist?

Composed a quick mail to Tanna and Sue to do a "round the world real time baking game" and blog about it. Turns out we started the dough 5 minutes apart from each other! Yesterdaynight we had an exchange of fun emails in which weiners, gourmet and grilled salmon played a part (I recall there was some name calling involved but I'm not so clear on that....hehe) but the leading role was the bread in it's continuing form.

Observant readers can guess the timezone in which this took place (a 7hrs difference) had me in the kitchen at midnight watching my empty Romertopf getting heated in the oven. Observant Dutch readers know what this is about: my in-ability to count, or rather count back, from a recipe which repeatedly has midnight kitchen sessions as a result..... (and more or less desperate cries for help to fellow bakers: when do I start this biga?) Yes you may giggle, she's done it again!

Gourmet setI digress.... But before I get back to business on hand, did I tell you about the polar circumstances this bread -and me- had to work? We did an instant out of the blue gourmet evening yesterday and to get rid of the eeeh.. let's say odour, all available windows ánd the backdoor were open wide, and boy, it was cold in here!

initial dough for dummiesAnyways...a few observations: the dough itself was quite wet (as was said in the article) I used 3 cups of breadflour and slightly more than 1.1/2 cups of water and I think using dutch breadflour you'll need to hold back on the water more (or add a little flour). Look at Tanna's results and compare our doughs. In the first twelve hours (dough mixed at 10.00 pm) first picture at 10.00 am, alive and bubbly, smells definitely yeasty and fresh.

dough after 20 hrs..Just before dumping (literally dumping) the mass on my floured workspace, the bubbles are larger and the smell is very nice. And then...
using my scraper I incorporated lots of flour (and here is maybe where I went wrong in handling the dough too much from fear of having an unmanageable mass) fold it unto itself and let it rest covered with plastic foil.
It didn't rise....

Trying to get a ball-like form, handled it a bit more still using the scraper and put it to rise, covered with a teatowel.
It didn't rise...

Instead it spread out a bit on the underlying teatowel and -quelle horreur!- developed a crust! meaning the top is drying out, prohibiting the dough to rise on the surface so it had to go sideways and that's what it did!

Finally I tipped it over in the heated Romertopf (close to midnight!) and instantly it stuck to the sides (visions of having to use non-kitchen utensils to pry it out in baked state came to mind, yes I do have experience and yes fellow bakers at Bakkerswereld again you may laugh out loud). You may assume I was praying for a lot of ovenspring!
When you take the time to watch the video at NY Times site, you'll notice that the texture of the initial dough is far more firm than mine was. And what I saw is that this baker uses 1.1/2 cups of water and not 1.5/8 and scoops his flour, and I think there are heaped cups of flour there....

I removed the lid a bit early because I was very anxious to know what it was doing in it's sheltered dome and to my surprise it didn't look too bad!
Not bad at all (mind, this must be a very forgiving dough!). This morning I came into the kitchen to find my bread half sliced...and gobbled up and the rest of the family happily munching away.. Have to confess here that I slept somewhat longer this morning....

So...does this thing work? Yes it does! Will I try it again? Yes I will. Is it good enough for you to try? Yes it sure is. It's easy, it's forgiving, it sings when it comes out of the oven and even with my mistreating it looks good. Take a look at the pictures from Tanna and Lindy and Life begins at sixty-five and in Dutch with already some pictures Bakkerswereld, I bet there are more of you out there.. You'll know what it looks like in kitchens around the world.
inside crumb
May I invite any Dutch bakers to contact me and maybe send some pictures of your finished loaf so I can do a round-up here and show the results (and credit you of course)? You can reach me at bakemyday at gmail dot com. I just sampled my first slice and it tastes great, albeit that the crust was a little too thick to my taste and the holes could be bigger. Again I think this is due to my mistreating the dough, next time I will make sure the dough is firmer to start with.

Update: You could watch the NYT video (which I did áfter I made the bread) in which the instant famous baker tells the ever enthousiastic journalist to use 3 cups of flour (while scooping enormous cups, not leveled) and to use 1.1/2 cups of water (and we see him pouring a scant cup in.. so to be on the safe side: less water, more flour (ratio: 1.1/2 cup to approx 450 grams I think)


  1. I have another batch in the works as of yesterday, starting with a firmer dough, as in the video. I am quite confident that the results will be even better this time. Thanks for the link!

  2. He, he, he...Your are just so very good Baking Soda! Beautiful write up and obviously the bread had to be really good when it's going like that. I think I forgot to say in my post I did very lightly dust my pan with some flour and corn meal and it acted like it was going to burn but didn't really. I'll go back and put that in if I left it out and a link to sixty-five which I missed I know.
    And folks, Baking Soda's bread looks really beautiful, thanks to the marvel of the internet, I've seen it.

  3. This really has been a lot of fun.
    The article did say that the fellow who came up with the recipe encourages a casual attitute...and that the bread is forgiving, which really makes it perfect for home baking.
    In retrospect, my dough did some spreading too, but since my cooking pot and bread were oval, I didn't really notice .I think it's delicious.
    I'm waiting to see everyone's photos.

  4. Oh you are all driving me crazy with this bread today. Nothing but no-knead bread this Sunday. Ok, I admit that I am simply jealous that you have not invited me to join in the fun. But maybe it's because you know that I am toooo organized to start such an adventure right away ;-) But I will pay you back and make one as soon as possible. Then I will learn from all your experiences, hehehe. I have not heard anything from Sue for two days which has not been the case for months. I think she has fled somewhere in order not to have to no-knead bread. Hope that everything is fine with her though. So - what ? The breaad is gone already ? So how about baking a new one ???

    Much Love from angelika

  5. That sounds fun! I don't have a romertopf, but I am in the market for a le creuset casserole, which I imagine would work well too.

    I wonder if you could use Dan Lepard's oil instead of flour thing to counter the sticking to the teatowel thing?

    I have to try this as soon as I have the right kind of pan.

  6. Well, a lovely post after all those emails last night!! And the weiner roast was lovely although the grilled salmon was much better (even though the grill ran out of gas and we had to sramble to change propane tanks)! I will try this bread recipe soon -- I promise! Maybe Angelika and I will have a bake off!!

  7. It's wonderful, Karen!

    I have to try it but I don't have a container to make it in!

  8. Hi Karen, I've already placed the photot's on my blog to see. It turned out quite well!

  9. nire an airy

  10. Hola, the wonder-bread has reached Spain too... I started yesterday night, after reading the NYT article and today we sampled the first bread that I think really cannot be praised enough... It's like I am back in the Ardeche... nice crust, airy inside, but not too big a holes... I used 430 gr flour (very ordinary one mixed with 1/4 soja/whole) with 2,5 cups of water and I am very, very satisfied... I don't think the baker's shop will see much of me in the future, except for buying their soja mix flour...

  11. Good Job! :)

  12. I have made no-knead bread about fifteen times.

    I never had a failure and the recipe has evolved to suit our tastes.

    The latest incarnation has garlic, walnuts and olives. Three cups of Gold Medal better for bread flour and one cup of Wheat Montana WW flour.

    I'll send an image and method if you wish.


  13. This bread looks really fantastic :)I'm gonna try to make one of this, thanks for sharing :)


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