Thursday, January 10, 2008

My First Time

So Alecto talked about making this no knead fermented (or something close to it) bread. Came from the NYT -- no wonder I didn't see it. By way of Kitt's, where the actual directions came from.

I changed everything of course. I changed everything because I see no reason to eat anything but whole grains. Why bother? It doesn't taste as good not whole, and it isn't as good for you, and just why bother? I mean, it is one thing to eat junk but quite another to eat it at home -- and another thing entirely to bother cooking it.

I changed it because I've made a LOT of bread in my time, and a lot of fermented bread, and I knew I didn't have enough water in it when I mixed it up. I'm sure that was because I'd changed from white bread flour to freshly ground hard red whole wheat flour with some gluten added.

I changed it because the pot I had to cook it in, as well as the number of people in my family and their enthusiasm for bread, was a lot bigger than the original recipe's proportions.

So here's my version, here at the beginning (this will change over time, no doubt):

*Big old flat bottom cast iron cauldron with lid pot to cook it in.

*6 cups freshly ground hard red wheat flour, 4 tsp gluten flour, 3 tsp salt (not iodized), heaping 1/2 tsp yeast (not fast acting)

*Mix dry ingredients together.

*Add 3 1/2 to 4 cups of cold water

(note: I really should try weighing the ingredients because with flour and water, measurements are sometimes surprisingly variable)

I mix this in a stock pot and with a wooden spoon. Then cover and keep somewhere around 60 to 70 degrees for somewhere between 15 and 24 hours. It won't matter that much. The above loaf was kept at about 70 (in the oven with the light on in our rather cool house but on a relatively warm night) for about 18 hours.

*Deflate, leaving in stock pot, but don't bother to knead. Let rise again for two hours.

*Get your oven hot at some point within this last two hour rise. If you have a wood cook stove like I do, it takes a little longer than turning a knob and waiting a half hour like the recipe says for it to get to 450. After the oven is hot, let the pot and lid heat in the oven for at least a half hour so you better be thinking ahead here.

*I put the "toppings" on the board and just dumped the dough onto it, and from there shaped it by folding it into thirds both ways. I used flour and rolled cereal grains as my topping.

I was somewhat concerned that my cauldron might not be all that well seasoned, and then it was in a hot oven burning off what seasoning it had anyway, so I generously floured the bottom of the pot before I flopped the loaf into it. I shook the pot a bit to settle the dough and put the lid on making the seal (so the vent was covered). I was amazed this didn't rise as a loaf and went online to make sure this went in the oven this way. Yes it did. Ok. I am familiar with oven spring and with the chemistry of crust and understand what that lid is doing but it was still a leap of faith even more than "no knead" was. Ok. So here I was, making a recipe I had never made and changing it all to pieces and I was a tad bit nervous.

As you can tell, it came out wonderfully. Magnificently! Bake for 1/2 hour at 450 with the lid on, then remove lid and bake another 15 minutes or until done. Always measure bread for done-ness by internal temperature -- 190 is perfect, 210 is overdone, anything under 180 is underdone. This single step has made more difference in my bread baking than anything. The above loaf cooked about an hour total.

Turn out of pan and let cool a bit before digging in. It isn't as flavorful as bread you've used a starter that has developed its bacteria for flavor. I may get another sour starter because I really like a sour fermented bread. It does have an absolutely magnificent crust -- hard to cut and chewy and oh so flavorful.

And you know that photo of Alecto all pleased as punch getting her pizzas out of the oven? I kept looking at this loaf of bread sitting on my bar and laughing with delight at it. You can't see it in this photo but this loaf broke on top and curled just like the fancy bread books talk about. A no knead whole wheat loaf, not risen, not slashed, perfect. Tickled the absolute sh*t out of me. I do not see how a person can NOT be passionate about food. And especially about bread.


Kitt said...

Lovely! It's a perfect recipe to experiment with every which way. So forgiving, it rarely disappoints.

I'm in awe that you cooked it in a wood stove.

laura said...

i've made plenty of stuff lately with white flour because that's what's here at my parents' house. and every damn single time i think, cg would hate this. even i used to tell myself no friggin way am i gonna use white flour when i bake it myself. but, i'm chilling out for the moment about food. still i think they tasted just fine because i gave myself permission lately to enjoy something if i like it regardless of whether it was good for me and i made it with love because the other day when scotty came home he wanted some ice cream and the kids and i had finished it off already. so last night i made oatmeal and raisin cookies for him and when he came home he had some and said they were the best ever. i know it was the love and not the white flour.

but i do miss grinding my own WW. i only brought my wet blender with me. i'm sure it could handle the dry too though so i should get around to finding out. i've got some wheat berries here. hmmm.

that bread looks awesome. i got scotty's bread makers bible book out of storage this past week and i've been mulling over the idea of doing fresh breads again. i think i can i think i can i think i can. thanks for the inspiration!!! coincidence, i think not!!

CG said...

Well la, I continued to use some white flour for years, and hey, I can even enjoy those white sugary rolls at Golden Corral ya know?!? But I'm just to the point that I don't see the point of white (or unbleached) flour. Ok, so cakes aren't quite so cake-like. So what. Nobody's biscuits are as good as mine, with butter and lard for the fat.

And I cannot imagine someone calling herself a raw vegan eating white flour. I mean, sorry, that just boggles my mind with illogic. I think a raw vegan would be used to eating soaked wheat berries.

I know they will have this at the JC library -- get The Bread Builders. It is the best bread book because it had enough information to really have to fathom through and no recipes. Well, none that I remember because I remember working out what I would do for a "recipe" from it. You'll be inspired to build an oven (which, one exists right down the street from you -- that bakery on Roan).

Ren said...

Hey la, let's build an oven here!! Yes, yes. If you want to help me I'd be thrilled and I'll even bake you some bread.:)

I really, really want the Nutrimill right now, but I also enjoy (yes thoroughly enjoy) my loaves with unbleached white flour. And yes, I think of CG quite often while using my white flour which I enjoy so much. lol

The problem with homemade bread around here, is even though I make it almost daily, it disappears within hours. sigh.

laura said...

um, my mom doesn't eat the flour, it's just in the house for holiday baking for others.

there are a lot of things i can imagine though. and a lot of things i can see the point in.

yes ren, i'd love to make an oven in your back yard. i wonder what the neighbors would think of that!!

i passed the roan street wood stove pizza place just today on the way to the library and i always wish they were open on scotty's days off. i love pizza and wood fired is awesome. we did have some really amazing pizza from simm's the other night and i'm looking forward to having some more real made me happy =) white flour and all.

Alecto said...

Wonderful! At least you had a better experience modifying the recipe than my mother (I believe it ate her kitchen). I have no trouble with whole wheat in this recipe at all; however, I'm not sure what I'm buying these days because I'm getting it in bulk at Whole Foods and it is labeled organic whole wheat pastry flour. Maybe it's just been milled senseless? In any event, it is much lighter than the King Arthur whole wheat I'd been buying in the five pound bags.

I solved the need to have more bread by mixing multiple batches and dropping them in multiple pots. I'll try doubling and baking in my larger cast iron pot and see what I get.

CG said...

They've devolved that oven into a pizza oven? I haven't been down there in a few years. They used to do bread. It has the geometry for bread. Or did. The geometry for pizza is different, flatter, with the fire still in it. Ren, if you are serious about making an oven, also refer to the book Making Your Own Wood Fired Oven. I think that's what is it called. I can't find it at the moment.

CG said...

I just wanted to say, who the h*ll do I think I am? I buy bologna. Only occasionally, but still.

Ren said...

You know, I was actually wondering about that the other day....if white flour is evil, where does that put bologna on the evil scale?;)

I think I've got some hedonistic tendencies because I think if you enjoy something you should have it. But then I get upset when my Dad (who has the ability to have pretty much whatever he wants due to money) builds a 5,000 sf house for two freaking people. Balancing desire with responsibility seems more sane.

But I do think if people enjoy certain foods they should eat them without guilt. Worrying about food will kill you faster than the food itself.

My focus is not on extending the length of life, only making the quality of life good. Which will probably always involve some white flour (you just can't get the most excellent focaccia any other way in my opinion).

Sudiegirl said...

Can I bribe you to make me some bread?

I want some bread and I'm a lousy baker.

CG said...

Sudie, no one is a "lousy baker". There may be some things some people can do better than other people but really, you can make this bread. Bread, all bread, is very forgiving. Play, love it, it will love you back.

Ren, of course bologna is evil. And I'm a hedonist too. But it is the habitual stuff, and the unnecessary stuff, I think, that I rant against. I just don't see the point of white flour, almost never. Not that I won't eat it when out, but why have it at the house? I don't have bologna at the house. But when it is a strained day and we need to eat something and it seems like a good idea, I will pick up some bologna without a spot of guilt.

I entirely don't get the "stressing" about food stuff. At all. Eat. Enjoy. But be mindful. I think it is mindfulness that is missing when someone is eating junk AND when they are stressing over healthy or calories or whatever. It is a waste.

WHOLE food, mostly, and mindfulness always. That's my thing on food.

laura said...

LOL. this is too funny. white flour, baloney (i cannot bring myself to spell that correctly cause i simply get cracked up by 'bologna' and then i want to say it exactly that way and when someone says something stupid i want to say 'bolOGNA' instead of baLONEy...i'm so weird inside my head).


i do totally agree that stressing about food is so much more unhealthy than the "bad" food itself. i am a living example of that my friends. but the big deal is that some people have food issues. that's the big deal, getting over them. it's harder than you think. i put so much emphasis on that very idea of eating well at home but it was okay to have something yummy and processed away from home. guess what, made me count the days until scotty's days off when we would do the going out thing. i don't know that that is a very good trade off. so now i'm going for balance and i don't seem to crave the going out as much. i don't know. i think we have to find our own way. balance. you can also call it moderation. but i decided some time ago that just the word "moderation" brought feelings of restriction and denial.

so balance, joy, and harmony. that works for me even if it includes white flour, red #40, sugar, HFCS or whatever because i know that there's also gonna be a lot of veggies, fruits, WW stuff and good times.

this is a new place for me. so even if i'm trying to sound all casual, cool and okay, you gotta know it's all new and scary to let go but it feels right.

CG said...

la, you are the epitome of casual and cool. Epitome. Say that like it is spelled! LOL!

Squashi said...

i made this a few weeks ago with white flour and it was pretty bland. I'd love to try it with WW for flavor, maybe mixed with some rye or something. Do you have any thoughts on Rye? Will yeasted rye bread rise?

I am a very inexperienced bread baker... basically, i really wished that this bread was more tangy. My fiance insisted that putting yogurt in it would help. Any chance that you can do an end-run around a real sour starter with some yogurt?

Thanks for the great post! Oh- what kind of cookstove do you have? My parents have one but i never see the internal temp get much higher than 300 or 350.

Ren said...

I'll tell you what, the raw buttermilk I use makes luscious bread! A little bit sour, but not extremely so. Some oats and extra gluten lends it a lovely texture. I would think buttermilk (I replace milk and water with it) would lend more tang than yogurt. Dunno.

I agree with you about balance La...though it's more about respecting my children's autonomy because we all have different ideas about "balance" of course.:)

eyemkmootoo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CG said...

Well, store bought yogurt IS pretty bland. But what you are wanting is bacteria (like is in yogurt and buttermilk, same thing, slightly different strains) to sour the stuff. Mine gets a good alcohol tang to it just sitting for 24 hours. And of course, the WW tastes luscious. But you can buy or bargain a starter. The only trouble you might run into with that is that store bought yeast won't stand up to too much acidity (which is what your sourness is -- see how much chemistry there is?). The good part is your starter should have a strain of yeast in it that can stand up to its acidity. The best one I ever bought came from GEM Cultures out of California. Google them. I bought the extra sour one and man it was sour. Loved it. Eventually it died when my fridge went on the kablink. If anyone near me has a good starter, I would love to try it. The sour-er, the better.

Oh, since you are sitting this dough out for hours, you don't want to use buttermilk or milk or yogurt in it. While I might use my own raw milk, pasteurized milk products are dead already and rot instead of sour and I wouldn't trust what they might grow at 70 degrees for 24 hours.

My cookstove is a Majestic. My grandmother bought it new in about 1930. It can get very hot. I probably baked my last bread at close to 650 degrees, and it still took an hour to get done. I also keep increasing the water. And I don't hesitate to "knead" it as much as I feel like at the punch down (but not at the loaf forming).

Sudiegirl said...

But I want you to bake me bread!!!


laura said...


cool and casual, me? no, i don't think so. i'm wound tighter than a drum. drum? is that right? i really can be uptight. but i'm learning. like i said, the letting go, that's the hard part and i think i'm doing pretty good. i brought cookies i made yesterday with us to eat on the way to the library and i offered the kids another one and they were like, "nah, i'm good"...all three. so they must be getting their fill of all things evil and unvirtuous...LOL!!!!

ditto ren, on the kids' autonomy and such. they have totally different ideas about what is a good balance for them than i do for myself.

Linda said...

That is a beautiful loaf. Very inspiring.

The Purloined Letter said...

Ooh, that sounds fantastic! We must try that today!

CG said...

well, you'll have to try it tomorrow since it takes overnight!

CG said...

oh gawd but look -- I did not like them and they did not like me! LOL! How very revealing. So very blind I can be once I've made a commitment.