No Knead Bread - flavor?

I am bread novice, picking up bread baking after many years away. Currently having fun with the no-knead method:) I feel like a kid with the biggest ball of play-doh. The rise and crust are beautiful, even after scraping a gooey mess out of the banneton. But… it kind of tastes like play-doh. My family taste test results: " the whitest white bread ever", “flavor is… subtle” LOL I started with 3 cups of KA bread flour, and substituted one cup of fresh milled hard white wheat. Better, but something is missing. I am now in a contest with the old Zojirushi, and it is winning.

Is it the low amount of yeast? 12 hour rise instead of 18 hours? I see Cook’s Illustrated had the same issue and added beer and vinegar for a more complex taste. Looking at the bread forum, it seems that many took the path to sour dough. What direction did you take to enhance flavor?

Yah, sourdough. In fact I’m probably not really qualified to answer this question because I’ve actually never baked a loaf of bread with commercial yeast. But I will say a couple things anyway…

I have baked all white-flour sourdough bread (loaves and baguettes) and their flavor has been quite good. You can really vary the flavor depending on how long you allow it to proof with sourdough.

In the last couple years, I haven’t used much or any white flour at all, having gone whole hog into whole grain bread. Flavor-wise, I’m not looking back. If your family is used to white bread, whole wheat may not be your thing, but maybe it’s worth an experiment?

Here’s the whole grain method I use:

It’s not no-knead as described, but it definitely could be - just leave out all the dough handling and I’m sure it would still give you a very nice loaf.

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Although I am now 100% sourdough (3 plus years), I made no knead recipes with commercial yeast for approx. 5 year previous. I felt the commercial yeast breads were good. Some suggestions if you stay with commercial yeast: water … if you are on a city system with chem, change to a good spring water. Flour - you might experiment with some heirloom flours: spelt, red fife, Kamut (my personal favorite). Rye is another great flavor and it is pretty subtle - we tend to equate Rye with caraway or other things in a mostly rye bread, but using some rye flour with white and spelt, water and salt will add some flavor. To start, consider 20-25% of the non white to white flour. As you add more non-white flours, the handling is different. You could spend days reading some of the threads and recipes on this site to get a feel for that.

Longer rise tends to create a bit more tang as well as more flavor. I typically did an 18 hour rise before a first bake with commercial yeast and I also stored dough in the frig for up to a week. That slows but does not stop the rise and it tends to increase flavor.

Natural leaven takes things up another notch or 3 …. at least it did for me. Plus there are health benefits to the natural fermentation process. You might review some of the sourdough recipes and the timing and see if the process appeals to you. It is a longer process. It took me a bit at first to get used to planning ahead a bit more, but it IS possible to bake same day with active, fed starter.

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Thank you both. I do like the heirloom grains, have never tried rye or spelt. I have been milling whole grain for pasta, which is how I found Breadtopia and this forum. I think my goal will be whole grain sourdough, I have some research to do on which starter to try. I have made my own sourdough starter before, surprisingly easy, but I could perhaps improve with Eric’s SF/Iowa starter:)

You might enjoy this research thread about starters

Starter: my personal favorite is flour and water :slight_smile: I started mine via Emma Christensen’s direction on theKitchn. I also cut my sourdough teeth on her Tartine adaptation and 75% of the time use the proportions and method to make bread … subbing whatever flour I feel like using but keeping to overall grams per the recipe.

In addition to the thread Melissa mentions, my personal favorite discussion of all things sourdough including starter is: Demystifying Sourdough Bread Baking written by @homebreadbaker who commented above. One of the things he notes … and this is what makes me a bit crazy when folks start talking about specific starters: eventually, your starter will be unique to your location. You can buy a SanFran starter and it will eventually be KD’s house starter that takes the characteristics of the unique stuff floating around your house. However, you can influence the flavor of your bread with variations in fermentation time, feed practices for your starter and ??? There is a plethora of info on that around the internet and this forum and some might actually be true!!

Since you are milling and making no knead (so handling very wet doughs) you are in a good place to take off with whatever sounds good to you!!

One other flour recommendation in the heirloom group: Einkorn. It is newish to me and I think THE.BEST whole grain taste. It does handle very different from other flours: softer, wetter. See Naturally leavened einkorn bread here on Breadtopia. I was astounded at how good this bread was. My first loaf was recipe as written except I used my white flour starter. Since I have made a 50-50 Einkorn White which I love also.

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Following up on @easummers response, I haven’t yet tried Einkorn (but soon!) but we LOVE spelt. I had never (knowingly) eaten spelt bread until I made a loaf using 100% spelt flour and Eric’s recipe from this site. It has become our favorite house bread. Every time I experiment with another recipe, my husband and I agree it’s tasty but then he asks: “can you make spelt again?” :smile: The recipe isn’t “no-knead” but rather barely knead – three stretch and folds that take 10 seconds each (see the video w/ the recipe). Could not be easier.

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Thank you all - I look forward to trying your suggestions!

K - check your salt level. If you use Diamond Kosher salt (preferred over Morton’s) - or any other salt except “table” - make sure you weigh it, rather than measure it.

The standard amount for bread is 2% by weight of the total flour weight grams. So with a total of 500 grams of flours, you’d weigh out 10 grams of salt. Etc. And I always round up to the next gram if it’s a fraction.

Bread with insufficient salt tends to taste a little flat.

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