Is no knead too good to be true? was it just a fad? is bread better that has been kneaded? Thanks
No Knead vs Traditional Bread
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The bread is not better than kneaded bread, it's just much easier to prepare (less work).
We've had a discussion on that topic:
OK, I just don't see any debate on that thread about the merits of each. I guess this comes after some disappointing no knead loaves I've made. Dense, leathery not crispy crumb. Then I pick up a loaf from the Italian deli down the street and I'm like Yeah!! that's how a loaf is supposed to be! Thanks.
First, it's almost impossible to replicate bakery bread at home. There's just too much difference in ovens, etc.
Second, it sounds like your initial no knead efforts are flawed by either inadequate rise and/ or underbaking. You should be getting open crumb and crispier crust than you are describing.
Keep trying. No knead is no joke; it's the real deal.
What Brian said. Let me add that a crispy crust comes from adding vapor in the (home) oven. There're some techniques for that, but I can get nice crusts using a spray to really vaporize the hot oven just before baking the loaf, and sprying again once the dough rised after 30 minutes or so.
These days i'm baking bread in loafs, without pans or pots. You may have to knead for about 10 minutes after the first rise and that's enough. Less hydratation. 12-20 hours first rise. About 3-4 hours last rise.
But my best bread ever was a 3 days rise in the fridge with minimal yeast. Never made sourdough yet. Too much work!
I use a no-knead bread recipe frequently, mostly for when I make a stuffed fish loaf or I need some as an appetizer. I can put the ingredients together in the morning or just before bed the previous day, as you have up to 18 hours to finish it.
I think the key is to cook the bread in a large Dutch oven or other vessel that has been heated up with the oven. You keep the lid on for the first half hour and then take it off to finish cooking. Enough steam is generated in the closed container to give you a great crust.
I use my enameled Dutch oven for round loaves and a metal fish poacher when I need a long loaf. Both produce excellent results.
Here's the recipe I use:
I use the all-purpose flour and it works just fine. Don't skip the beer as it adds compounds typically produced by yeast in a standard recipe.