Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sad Loaf: Mark Bittman's Fast No-Knead Whole Wheat Bread


How was it for you?
Did anybody try Mark Bittman's faster version of his No-Knead Bread?
And the whole wheat version?

I was excited—I've actually never made yeast bread before, and I heard the original no-knead recipe was pretty foolproof. Cynical Matt, of course, was quick to point out the abundance of bakeries in New York City that are perfectly capable of churning out freshly made bread. But I wanted our apartment to smell like yeast! I wanted to be in on the action! I wanted to pull a gorgeous loaf from the oven, and spread a perfect slice with butter, which my no-longer-cynical fiancĂ© would devour and exclaim with glee! But no.


What came out of my oven was sour, yeasty, dense, and spongy. Was it too much liquid? Was it because I used whole wheat bread flour instead of regular whole wheat flour? Was it because I used active dry instead of instant yeast? (I proofed it first, and reduced that liquid from the total amount.) Was the beautiful stoneground rye flour from the farmer's market to blame?

I wonder if this recipe just isn't the best one...it might be worth reducing the yeast, and maybe the liquid, and letting it rise more, or (gasp!) actually involving oneself in some kneading. Maybe I'll try this one next. What's the rush?

9 comments:

doggybloggy said...

well you sold me on not trying this recipe...LOL

maggie said...

Someone on the NY Times page commented to suggest that the superfast rising prevents correct gluten from forming, which is why it collapsed and became dense. Also, could it be that the apartment was too warm?

Rebecca said...

Yikes, Maggie! I would second the fast rising as a culprit. I have a really simple white bread recipe that I use all the time. Very little kneading and it turns out super. Of course, you have to hang out while it rises but the results are well worth the time. I love that you're posting the 'bloopers' now too. :)

rtd said...

i suspect it's the rye, which tends to become gummy if overkneaded.

cook eat FRET said...

i made it too!
mine tasted pretty damn good
i'd call it a success...
i just made one mistake which was that i forgot to grease the loaf pan so it stuck and we had to chisel it out...

maggie said...

@cook eat fret:
you made the whole wheat one and it worked? i'm so jealous. Did you use instant yeast?

tmaynard said...

I made the whole wheat loaf the same day I discovered the recipe (about a week ago). Mine looked very much like yours, but tasted fine.

I was a little disappointed, and apparently Mark Bittman was listening: his column today features a picture of his whole grain bread that looks *exactly* like mine did.

It was a brick ... but a tasty one.

Y'see, it's the bran in the whole grain flour that cuts the gluten threads during the rise ... and thus the gluten loses its ability to trap the CO2 given off by the yeast ... and thus, no rise.

To get a 100% whole grain loaf to rise "properly" is nearly impossible.

Elizabeth Seramur said...

I have been experimenting with this recipe for months now (my kitchenaid broke and I am terribly impatient when it comes to kneading bread). I tried rising it longer and boy is that a bad idea, it tastes like booze! I have improved my results somewhat by using better flour (St. Arnold's), using medium cornmeal instead of coarse, and adding a little extra vital wheat gluten. Subbing out the rye flour means it doesn't rise AT ALL, by the way. I think that whole grain flour simply doesn't lend itself very well to the no-knead process. I have made several whole grain breads that involve lots of kneading and rise up like crazy, but it's a lot of effort! As long as I am in grad school, I will stick with a moist dense loaf that requires very little hands-on labor.

AngoraBunny said...

I made the 100% whole wheat version and I love the texture and taste. But in spite of *generously* greasing the pan (pyrex) I too had some "edge of the pan chiseling" going on. Encouraged but the good features, I intend to find a non-stich pan of the correct dimension and keep this recipe as a staple in my household.