Q & A - Losing hope with "no-knead" bread

Jack,

Love your videos and thanks for posting them.

I'm new to the baking world (but a long-term cook, mostly in the savoury world).

I've been making no-knead bread now for a couple of months. Most always, even after precise measurements of ingredients, my breads come out flat and never seen to emerge as beautiful round loaves you and others so often demonstrate.

This has occurred now perhaps 25 - 30 times. I'm losing hope. 

Any ideas?

Best,

Tim W, California home cook


Knead it Tim!

Seriously though, don’t lose hope!

A flat loaf can be many things and my instincts tell me it’s because you are not kneading, not developing the gluten therefore the strength and structure it needs to hold a good shape. What are you doing, and for how long? (Just resting or stretching and folding etc)

Secondly you might need to work on your shaping technique... let me know what you’re doing instead of kneading and I’ll have a better idea.

Jack


Jack,

Mostly I've been doing these various no-knead bread recipes all over the internet.

The batch baking right now was:

1 cups White whole wheat flour

2 cups White all-purpose flour

1.5tsp salt

1 cup warmed water with 1/4 tsp yeast

1/4 cup Almond flour for flavour

Mixed together, cover in plastic wrap and let rise for over for 20 hrs.

It rose and was full of bubbles. It smells nice and yeasty

I pour it out onto a floured board and it spreads like a wet cow pat.

With bench knife in hand, I fold it onto itself for 10 minutes adding say 2tbsp flour.

It remains a wet, gelatinous puddle of dough and no matter what I do, it never takes shape into the nice round, holding itself together in a ball of dough I see you obtain.

Ideas?

And I deeply appreciate your taking your time to help.

Best,

Tim


Ok great! Here goes...

Kneading dough develops the gluten to make the dough strong, so it can a) hold the gas produced by the yeast and b) hold a good shape. But, there is one other thing that develops gluten too... time.

So often no knead bread recipes rely on time to develop the gluten to a certain extent, but I believe you need to fold it along the way to build the tension and structure as you go... maybe every hour or every 30 minutes or so, up to you to try out.

Another thing... 20 hours is long for a yeasted dough. All that time at room temperature (especially if you started with warm water!) could lead to the breakdown of the dough resulting in an untameable jelly mess that will never take shape.

I would always recommend kneading a dough but for whatever reason that doesn’t work for you here’s what I would try:

1. Always use room temperature water

2. Reduce the resting time to maybe 4-5 hours, folding every 30 minutes or maybe even 60 (don’t be too strict on yourself)

Hope this helps!

Jack