The thing about cooking and baking is that once you find a formula that works for you, there is a tendency to stick to it and stop experimenting and improving. For us, that philosophy works but only in some cases. How we cook chicken teriyaki, for instance, has not been varied in years. The chicken can go on top of noodles, mixed with vegetables, used as a sandwich filling… but it’s still the same basic chicken teriyaki. But with things like bread, we keep experimenting. Bread baking, after all, is much broader than one chicken teriyaki recipe, and the search for what we will eventually decide to be the “best formula” goes on and on. That is how this no-knead bread was born.
Alex was intrigued with the idea of baking bread that didn’t require kneading. I could understand what aroused her interest—no-knead bread sounds so totally anti-science. It is the kneading process that forms the strands of gluten that give the dough its springiness and elasticity. So how in the world can that happen if the dough is not kneaded?
Alex made the same no-knead bread twice in a span of three days. The recipe is from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. The blog’s author adapted it from Mark Bittman’s no-knead bread recipe. The result of Alex’s first attempt is pictured above. The crust was wonderful but, inside, despite the similarity in appearance to sour dough bread, was rather gummy. Perhaps, rubbery would be a more appropriate description.
So, two days later, Alex baked another loaf.
She baked it a little longer the second time. The crust was still to-die for but the inside was the same as the first loaf. What could account for the gumminess? I did a little sleuthing and found that there are other bakers out there who has had the same issues with no-knead bread. The problem? Who knows? Could be anything from too little water to too much water to flour with too low protein content.
So, to answer the question in the title… The crust of no-knead bread is good. Fantastically good. But… yes, there’s the big BUT and you already knew it was coming. We like bread to have the mouthfeel of bread. And the mouthfeel of this no-knead bread just isn’t like that.
Will Alex make a third attempt? Speedy suggested that she use the same recipe but dispense with the no-knead part. Make the dough using the same ingredients then knead the dough like she has in the past. If that still yields less than perfect results, then, it might be worth looking into the flour-water proportion. Or look for another recipe.
And the search for the ideal bread recipe continues at CASA Veneracion.