Cook's Illustrated Almost No Knead Bread

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I’m excited to try the sandwich version of this! One question- I’m concerned about how long this bread will keep as it will take my family a couple of days to get through a loaf. I have added ascorbic acid to bread in the past as a preservative- do you think that will alter the results? I may just try it and see what happens, but I thought I would ask first : )

A couple days seems pretty quick (to go through a loaf of bread) to me. Have you had issues with some breads going south on you in that short a time? I think this particular bread should hold up just fine for a few days. However, your idea of adding some ascorbic acid sounds like a good one as a precaution. I’ve heard of people adding ascorbic acid to bread anyway to give the bread a little sourdough like tang. So it might be doubly worthwhile.

Please let us know if you try it and it helps out.

Hi there!
So I’ve made the whole wheat version twice - first off, so amazing! The only thing is that the bottom gets pretty darn burnt… I’ve tried putting it in a higher rack, but still came out burnt. The rest of it is absolutely perfect though. Any suggestions on how to remedy this?
Thanks!

Hi, There could be several things to do differently. First, get a good oven thermometer since the standard oven readings can be off by 25 to 75 degrees. Another possibility is the radiant heat from the bottom oven element can cause burning. So I sometimes put an empty baking sheet on the lowest shelf. I have found the best bread texture has been by using an Emile Henry cloche. It seems to diffuse the heat more evenly, and has been a great value in my bread baking. I bake at 460 degrees for 35 minutes covered and 5 minutes uncovered, with usually very good results. Some people like a darker crust, so bake uncovered longer - even ten minutes, but that gets the loaf a bit too closed to burned for my family. Also I experiment a lot, sometimes it doesn’t work, but mostly, if you follow Eric’s videos, the results are quite satisfying. Happy baking! G

I always put my Le Crueset dutch oven into a cold oven, then set the temp for 425. The first 30 minutes are covered, then the last 30 minutes are uncovered. I get a nice crust, both top and bottom.

Hope this helps.

I have been making this for a while now. Everyone loves it, and I have had to train my neighbors that when they request that I bring this to a dinner party, I need enough lead time for the up to 18 hour proof. I am now the “bread guy” in the hood. The whole wheat is very nice, but the loaf tens to be smaller. In the whole wheat loaf, I use balsamic vinegar and a stout beer. Great flavor and a darker crumb. One interesting note after watching Eric in the videos, I have been doing a cold over start with very good results.

Hi, So I am trying to make the No Knead sandwich bread but the video wont play. So no instructions, bummer. I added everything and hoped for the best. Can you please post directions?

I am wanting to adapt the Artisan Bread in 5 technique by substituting vinegar and water for some of the water called for in the recipe. I see in the comments that Mary Lynch does this, but it appears that she is using approximately the same vinegar and beer amounts in this recipe in the ABn5 recipe. Since the ABn5 recipe calls for more than 2x the flour, I assume the flavor is not as pronounced as in the CI version in this blog. Has anybody tried doubling the CI amounts of vinegar and beer in the ABn5 bread? Results?

Given that the proportions of flour and liquid are the same as the Artisan Bread in 5, I decided to bake this bread using the ABn5 technique in lieu of the cloche. I baked a boule on a baking stone preheated to 450, adding 2 c hot water to a pan on the bottom of the oven to produce steam. (I dropped the temp to 425° because I was using convection).

I got nice oven spring, took it out of the oven after 30 minutes when the crust was golden and the inside temp was 200°. The crust was not quite as crunchy as the ABn5 recipe and the interior texture was softer but the flavor was superb.

Next time, I may just drop the amount of stemaing water to 1 cup and keep the temp at 450° for the first 15 minutes to see if I can increase the crust crackle. I may also let the loaf cool in the oven per KA’S recommendation for crusty bread: http://blog.kingarthurflour.com/2015/08/09/make-crusty-bread/

Hello, I’m wondering if anyone has used an alternative to beer? We are not big fans in our house, but I realise maybe the ‘bitter’ taste gives good flavor to the bread? We are ginger ale and ginger beer fans - has anyone tried those? Thank you!

So, my bread had a lovely crumb and the crust was as Eric suggested it would be, but mine is not sour at all! I used the beer and the vinegar, but I get no sour taste, less even than when I just use my sourdough starter, which rises my breads beautifully, but which never seems to make my breads sour enough…

Hi! Do you have to use quick yeast?

Hi Kiwigirl,
Hope you’ve figured out what you want to do since you’ve posted. But here’s my answer. I don’t drink beer and only have it for baking and cooking. One of my solutions in the past were the small bottles of traditional Budweiser that my grocery store stocked. If you have a tight cork to reseal the bottle you can keep it for a bit and use it just for bread. Now I use Grolsch, also a light pilsner type of beer that is good for this bread, because the bottles have the resealing flip top thing. Good luck!

I followed the recipe for the sandwich loaf to the letter, using honey instead of sugar. I don’t have a scale but used measuring cups. My dough came out soupy. I added another half-cup of white flour, which only marginally improved it. I went ahead and proofed it for 10 hours and it rose but was barely manageable–stuck to my fingers and wouldn’t shape at all. Any idea where I’ve gone wrong? (It’s in second proof as I write this–I’m going to bake it just for the heck of it.)

Honey adds liquid and measuring cups aren’t precise, so you did well to add more flour. Next time, I’d add even more or drop the liquid in the recipe as well.

Gluten development through stretching and folding can also make a wet dough more manageable, but I think your first step should be to make the dough dryer.

Thanks, Melissa. I didn’t really think anyone would respond because the thread was so old. This is very helpful. The recipe calls for a cup of water and half a cup of beer, and I was considering losing the beer, as I don’t mind that flavor but wouldn’t miss it, either. Or maybe half and half. Your response supports that decision.

I’d be surprised if a measuring cup could be off so radically. I mean, my dough was nothing like what Eric got in his video. More likely I just measured wrong.

The loaf came out like a dense little brick but was actually edible. Toasted up pretty well, too.

Stay safe and healthy.

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The recipe for the bread loaf calls for “18 ounces (~3 2/3 cups) of flour.” 18 ounces is actually 2 1/4 cups. Which cup measurement is correct? And if 18 ounces is really what’s called for, does it make a difference if I measure it in a measuring cup, as opposed to on a scale, as in the video?

I’ve always measured refined flour and most whole grain flours at 1 cup is 130-135 grams.

18 ounces is 510 grams.

510/135=3.77
510/130=3.92

Imo you need 3 3/4 to almost 4 cups of flour.

18 ounces equals 2 1/4 cups only for things that have the same density as water (milk for example), things like honey are a tad denser than water and oil is a bit lighter than water, but it’s close enough that you can measure them like water most of the time.
Flour, on the other hand is a LOT less dense than water. A cup of flour only weighs about 4 1/2 ounces (according to King Arthur Flour). Melissa’s cup of flour is a bit heavier probably because of the way she measures flour. Since flour is so fluffy, the way that you measure a volume of flour can make a big difference in the weight of a cup of flour. (Martha Stewart gently spoons flour into the measuring cup then levels it off, Steve the artisan bread guy jams his measuring cup in the flour bin, scoops up a goodly amount, gives it a good shake and levels it off. Martha’s cup of flour will weigh a LOT less then Steve’s because there less flour and more air in her measuring cup. Another factor in how much a cup of flour weighs is how much moisture your flour has on any given day: in the dead of winter with the furnace going full blast, your flour will be drier and weigh less per cup, in the summer, after a week of muggy weather, the flour will weigh more. These two things (measuring method and moisture content) make measuring flour by volume somewhat inaccurate (the measuring method differences make the biggest changes). This is one reason why Europeans almost always measure flour by weight, and why many modern American recipes use weight rather than volume, it’s much more accurate. Since a lot of people don’t have kitchen scales, I really wish more recipes gave both volume and weight recipes. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you might want to look into getting one. There are good inexpensive models as well as some pretty pricey ones. Whatever the price, they are very handy to have.