Friday, January 21, 2011

5-Minute, No-Knead, Pot-baked, Bumbling-Fool Bread

I haven't made any of the recipes from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, or the NY Times no-knead  bread that bakes the low-yeast, non-kneaded, slow-rise bread in a closed pot, for quite awhile.  I get lost when trying to make things days ahead, and I end up with one loaf...which, for my family, almost seems like a practice in futility, it is gone so fast.  I also had never gotten the bread texture to what I'd hoped. But last month I saw Sabjimata's blog post, Artisan Bread for Bumbling Fools.  I could almost smell the photo of her fantastic result, and the title sure seemed appropriate to my experience in this bread medium.  I printed her instruction and pictures, and had to try again.                                                                                                                                                     
Being perhaps more of a bumbling fool than the recipe required, as usual, I couldn't leave well enough alone and follow the exact directions.  I wanted to add cracked grains to the Sabjimata recipe, and didn't have bread flour, so decided to try adding vital wheat gluten to add protein to my all-purpose flour.  It also seemed a bit dry to me, so I checked the master recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and ended up with a combination of the two recipes.  Why I didn't consult my copy of  Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients, so I'd know what adjustments to make with the addition of the whole grains,  and to read more about using vital wheat gluten, I couldn't tell you...The bumbling fool strikes again, I guess.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
In a tall mixing bowl, I stirred together                                                                                                                   
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten (the Healthy Bread book told me this was too much.  Should've been 1/4 cup or less)
3/4 cup cracked multi-grains
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 1/3 cups lukewarm water                                                                                                            

I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for 3 hours, then put it in the fridge for 3 days.                                                                                                                                                            
 It rose to almost double on the counter and not much more in the fridge.  Only some bubbles in the dough gave me hope the yeast was active and things were doing as they should.  I let the dough warm to room temperature on the counter for a few hours.                                                                                                                                                  
About an hour before hoping to bake the bread, I put my 6 1/2 quart porcelain enameled cast iron Dutch Oven on the pizza stone, which was on the bottom rack of the oven.  I turned the oven to 550 and let the oven, stone, and pot heat up.                                                                                                                                                                                                     
I stretched the dough down and around on all sides to form a ball and placed it on a large square of parchment then realized I should let it rest/rise for awhile more before plopping it in the oven.  I consulted the Artisan Bread book, and it said 40 minutes.  According to the Healthy Bread book, I should have let it rest awhile longer...up to 90 minutes.                                                                                                                                                                                                  
After the 40 minutes, I brushed the top with egg white, and sprinkled on rolled oats.  I moved it carefully to the counter beside the oven, and even more carefully opened the lid of the hot Dutch Oven.  I placed the parchment and bread inside the pot,  and as Devadeva Mirel instructed on Sabjimata, pulled the paper away from one side of the pot and poured in 1/2 cup water, then put the lid back on, and closed the oven.  I baked it for 40 minutes, the longer amount of time she recommended.                                                                                                                                                                                     
It looked BEAUTIFUL.  The crust was WONDERFUL.  Crispy and chewy.  The inside?...Eh.  OK for sandwich bread, but not what I'd hoped for in artisan.  Too dense for me, and at first it seemed like maybe it wasn't done enough, but it was...The texture was just damp or heavier than expected.  This is when I finally got out the Healthy Bread book and noted the differences I should have made in vital wheat gluten amount and the resting time.  The right amount of vital wheat gluten can help create nice air bubbles and texture...Too much can make the bread rubbery.  A too-short resting time can also result in a denser crumb.  Hubby really liked the 'substantial' quality of it, but I'm adjusting things next time to see if I can get the nice big air bubbles artisan bread should have.                                                                                                                                                                                                
My beautiful red pot had been heated in the oven before, and although it darkened, returned to red as it cooled.  Not this time.  Inside and out, it's much darker.  It's been washed, but I haven't tried any extra measures yet to see if I can return it to its original colors.                                                                            

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free IngredientsArtisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking


  1. Alright. Maybe I will do some bread baking today. Husb taking the kids to see manatees. Just me and the baby. Maybe I will use my time wisely ;0

  2. I don't have the patience to wait 3 days to bake bread, lol. Yours looks good. I've found with bread that is a bit more dense than I prefer, it is still pretty good right out of the oven. The next day, not so much.

    Interesting, and frustrating, the change in your pot. I use a cheap Chefmate pot for baking bread because I've found the same problem. My Staub pots are not for high temperature baking. If you discover how to get the brown stains out of the inside, let me know.

  3. I'm SURE I used this pot similarly before...without this result, so I'm a little confused about why it happened this time. Maybe more of a seasoning on it this time that burned? I don't know. I do know I overheated some chili in it yesterday so that some blacked on the bottom and it peeled right out! Maybe it did it some good as far as its non-stick capabilities. Who knows.

    I have the problem with waiting the 3 days and with timing. I forget to figure in warming, resting/rising after shaping, baking, and cooling, so I end up with bread ready to eat at 9 PM!

    My attempts at artisan breads seem almost too soft regular sandwich bread.

  4. Oh, and Devadeva, time spent just enjoying baby and resting IS time wisely used! Believe me...

  5. I don't want to sacrifice any of my West Bend pans to 500 degrees so I've been watching the second hand stores for a suitable dutch oven. I found the stone already. What would you think about cast iron?

    And yes, I often end up baking bread at 10PM. Not the best plan.

  6. Cast iron would be great. I've regretted that I hadn't used my smaller Lodge Logic cast iron Dutch oven for this loaf, as it was stayed small enough that it would've been the perfect size.


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