No knead baguettes

P8160512No knead bread recipes burst onto the home baking scene a few years ago, their popularity driven by the New York Times’ publication of Jim Lahey’s no-knead recipe and the cookbook Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day, as well as Nancy Baggett’s recently published Kneadlessly Simple(See Nancy’s remarks in the “comments” section below.)  The basic, no-knead approach calls for the baker to stir up  a relatively wet dough.  The moisture of the high-hydration dough allows gluten to form on its own, without kneading, when provided with a long, long fermentation time (aka rising time).  Lahey’s recipe uses very little yeast and a long rise at room temperature; the Artisan Breads method refrigerates the dough for up to a week.   I made the Lahey recipe a few times; yes, it was easy, but the bread’s texture and taste weren’t so satisfying (to me, anyway).

Sure to extend the popularity of no knead baking are two forthcoming books:  Lahey’s My Bread and Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day.  King Arthur Flour jumped onto the bandwagon, too:  KA’s fall catalog is filled with no-knead recipes, adapted from Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day.

P8160509A few days ago, I whipped up a batch of no-knead baguette dough (recipe here, compliments of King Arthur), intrigued by the possibilities of a fresh baguette every few days.  The flour, yeast, water, and salt are simply stirred together in  a large container, fermented at room temp for 2 hours, then refrigerated (at least overnight, or up to a week). 

P8160508Making it was as easy as falling out of a pirogue.  But how would it taste?  After 24 hours of fermentation, I pulled 14 ounces of dough from the refrigerated blob.  It shaped easily after a short rest and rose quickly at 75-degree room temperature, resting on a piece of parchment paper.  Baked for 35 minutes at 450 on the Big Green Egg, the baguette had a holey crumb, glossy and elastic (see it pictured at the top of this entry).  Flavor-wise, it was unremarkable.  Not as good as a commercial, French-bakery baguette, but better than the spongy, supermarket version.

If you’ve baked no knead bread, let me know how it turned out….

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5 thoughts on “No knead baguettes

  1. Excellent post, Celeste. I’ve been meaning to try Lahey’s recipe, but just haven’t gotten around to it. I was baking pretty regularly when I was in law school, but gave it up after a disastrous loaf, on the theory that all of the work wasn’t really worth it. I think I’ll try one of the no-knead recipes this weekend.

    • I baked another loaf today from the original dough batch (stirred up on Sunday), and the flavor was significantly better thanks to the added fermentation. You might want to mix it soon for “most flavorful” baking by the weekend.

  2. Just thought you should know that my book, Kneadlessly Simple (Wiley, Feb. 09) also covers the no-knead territory. My recipes involve less muss and fuss than either of the two recipes you mentioned. Many doughs are mixed up in a big bowl with a spoon, and then just knead themselves during a long rise. After that they are stirred again, allowed to rise and then simply turned out (NO Shaping, NO countertop mess)into a pot or pan for baking. I believe they also have fuller flavor because they are mixed with ice cold water–it doesn’t not hurt the yeast, but due to certain chemical activity, makes the dough taste sweeter and mellower.
    Several free sample recipes from the book are posted on my website, and one is available on the National Public Radio website (npr.org)Search on no-knead bread to find the recipe.

  3. I am not much on the no knead breads because it takes all the fun out for me 😉 I did do an old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe for no knead dinner biscuits yesterday. They were quite good warm but got a little rubbery after about 8 hours.

    I do a no knead coffee cake – just a little recipe I developed for my yeast-challenged friend Alice. Here’s the link if you are interested.

    http://attheveryyeast.blogspot.com/2009/04/no-knead-to-fret-coffee-cake.html

    Even my 80 yr old mother can do this cake. Enjoy!

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