Wednesday, January 18, 2017

fast no-knead bread


What's the hurry? Planning averse? Honestly, I must say I prefer the original Jim Lahey discovery reported by Mark Bittman for the NYT that Jenny here refers to that describes overnight proofing. Why? Because time is an important element. Time is what imparts the country in Italian country style bread. Time is the element in biga, a pre-fermentation that gives traditional bread its aged character. Without time then you have rushed impatient American type characterless fast industrial style bread. Jim Lahey's method is the same thing as cooking biga without mixing it with fresh dough. This is fresh dough, and it's good, yes, but it would be even better if you just relax and allow it to sit there overnight. You're already giving it three or four hours, what's another nine or ten? You can start this tonight.

And forget about it. 

Until tomorrow, and pick up where you left off. No rush. No fuss.

Time is a form of kneading especially with extra wet dough. The extra moisture allows yeast to move as it grows as branches and causes the bread protein molecules to form interconnections just as with regular kneading. Time allows the yeast to consume starches and that's what makes this bread healthier and noticeably more delicious. Contact with water causes the enzymes in the flour to autolyze much more completely. The wide open crumb will be more pronounced. 

Jenny says the Dutch oven, a cloche in bakery terms, it can be a ceramic casserole, a cast-iron pot, or a clay cloche, they all work the same way, causes steam, it actually keeps the surface of the bread dough wet and elastic long enough for it to continue expanding inside the pot before the expanding dough hardens and surface expansion stops and begins baking to a crust. The closed pot allows a few minutes more time at that critical stage where bubbles trapped inside the bread are expanding by heat and the bread's skin keeps them all in rather like a large ballon with a million tiny internal balloons. Except the inside does continue to expand after the crust forms so the expanding internal dough breaks through the hardened crust. That's why bakers slash their loaves, so that they can control the direction of the internal expansion after the crust has hardened. The enclosed Dutch oven allows more time for the outer balloon, the dough skin, to expand. See? Time again as an element, an ingredient, of the bread. 

Bittman revisits Jim Lahey and makes this suggestion that Jenny takes up, "Hey! I just now thought of a way to do this faster," and Jim looks at Mark with disgust and dismay because Mark missed the whole point of extended proofing and time as an ingredient of the bread. Jenny does too. 

At any rate, recommended. Doing this will change your attitude about bread entirely. Discovering this was a wonderful thing. I haven't bought a loaf of commercial bread in a decade. <--- lie. I bought two. One was mass produced. I ate a few slices and didn't even recognize it as bread. It's a hoax. I threw away almost all of the loaf. The second one was bakery sourdough and although very good, I liked it real well, but it didn't have any actual sour tang to it at all. My own sourdough is 10x stronger, due to three days cold proofing, than specialty store's version. It was good country bread, but it is not proofed beyond overnight so it is not sour. And that's discouraging. If you want strong sourdough bread then you must make it yourself. Not too dissimilar to this. In fact, making this dough and sticking it in the refrigerator for three days will come very close. The difference being commercial yeast is a single organism isolated for its insane fartiness so the result will lack the complexity that multiple yeast and bacteria organisms impart. 


Some Seppo said...

Looks tasty and answers the question "Whatever happened to talk show host Jenny Jones"?

Synova said...

I'm still working on it. Collecting yeast isn't going so well but I'm getting better at making a loaf of bread come out the way it ought.

I like the explanation of how letting the water and flour sit works like kneading because I noticed that the wet stuff I'm trying to grow yeast in gets super stringy and goopy. What it isn't getting so much is bubbly.

And someone said you can't over-knead dough, but I think that you can. Particularly in a big-*ss Kitchenaid mixer.

Some Seppo said...

Alton Brown would add more bungee cords to his gluten model to demonstrate over-kneading.

rhhardin said...

Knead to know.