Make my No Knead bread tasty-er!
October 10, 2007 10:11 AM   Subscribe

I have fallen in love with this recipe for No Knead Bread. What (and when) should add additional ingredients to the dough?

For example: herbs, fruits, spices etc. What could I add and when should I add them? I dont want to mess up the rise.
I am just starting to get into baking bread, love this recipe in its simplcity but I want to make some diffrent variations of it.
posted by ShawnString to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: From Mark Bittman's follow up article to the Nov. 8 NYT story that started it all:

FLAVORINGS The best time to add caraway seeds, chopped olives, onions, cheese, walnuts, raisins or whatever other traditional bread flavorings you like is after you’ve mixed the dough. But it’s not the only time; you can fold in ingredients before the second rising.
posted by suasponte at 10:30 AM on October 10, 2007

Best answer: I add herbs after the first rise. I usually fold in something like rosemary after the 16 hour rise. This will work for any other herbs as well.

Other things I've tried

- browned onions and serrano chills (deseeded) - mixed with dry ingredients
- goat cheese and mixed herbs - after rise 1
- Olives + mixed herbs
- Cumin seeds

For the crust
- Organic cous-cous
- Cornmeal
- Fleur de sel

Really, the possibilities are endless. Add anything you like. If it's dry stuff (like nuts etc) then feel free to mix with the dry ingredients. If it's cooked or a bit perishable, then add after the first rise (the bread will rise more while you proof and again in the pot so stuff will redistribute well).
posted by special-k at 10:33 AM on October 10, 2007

You can significantly improve the flavor of the bread itself by swapping some or all of the water for whey or buttermilk.
posted by foodgeek at 10:36 AM on October 10, 2007

Best answer: Traditionally, large bits like fruit, nuts, seeds, etc. are the last ingredients to be added to a dough, meaning you would add them once everything else has been combined and mixed.

Herbs and spices are usually combined with the flour and other dry ingredients before adding any liquids.

Although I've never made no-knead bread, I can't see why you wouldn't follow the classic order of ingredients when it comes to additions.

As for additions and combinations, how about:
raisins/mixed peel and cinnamon
Chopped black olives and rosemary
Orange peel and oatmeal
Poppy seeds
Dried Italian herbs

On preview: what suasponte and SpecialK said.
posted by LN at 10:38 AM on October 10, 2007

I don't know if it was dangerous or not (I'm generally not afraid of leaving cheese out), but I've made it by adding crumbled feta and oregano to the dry ingredients, and it rose just as well as the other loaf without any add-ins. I even had a cup of whole-wheat flour in there, and found no big difference with the all-white loaf. Oh, and no one died eating the feta loaf. :)
posted by andree at 10:57 AM on October 10, 2007

To add another data point to the more thorough answers above, I had great results adding chopped fresh rosemary to the dry ingredients and letting it sit in the dough for the first rise. I don't know if it would be better than reversing the order, but it certainly worked well enough that I don't have any interest in experimenting with that particular step. I also like to sprinkle some kosher salt or coarse sea salt on top of the bread after I dump it into the pot, to give part of the bread a little extra kick.
posted by Schismatic at 11:11 AM on October 10, 2007

Response by poster: thanks all. that is exactly what i needed to know!

behold the power of ask.mefi
posted by ShawnString at 11:16 AM on October 10, 2007

I have developed a variation where I use a half-cup of sourdough starter to substitute some of the liquid, and no yeast, and one third rye flower. Then I add caraway seeds when I shape the loaf for the second rise. It works great.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:24 AM on October 10, 2007

I too have fallen in love with that recipe. It's freakin' revolutionary. It is now the primary method I use for making bread. I've even bought a second cast iron dutch oven so I can do two loaves at a time. Here's some of the futzing with the recipe that I've tried.

4-5 cups of flour for a bigger loaf. The only other adjustment for that was two cups of hot water, rather than the 1 and 5/8. (Fits my cast iron better.)

Same as above but replace 1 of the cups with 1/2 cup rye and 1/2 cup whole wheat. Kind of a dud. So tried replacing 1 cup of only rye, better. Then one cup of only whole wheat. best. Then added about two table spoons of ground flax seed, bestest.

To review, my 2nd fav variation is:
4 cups high gluten white
1 tbsp salt
1 cup whole wheat
1-2 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tbsp highly active yeast

Sifted together. Add 2 cups hot water (a tsp or 2 more more if not wet enough), stir.

Very yummy in a hippie kind of way. Good for the colon and what ails ya.

I'm also adjusting the first rise time based on ambient temperature, the warmer it is, the less time it needs.

Okay, here's my first favorite variation:

1 cup freshly fed sourdough sponge
4 1/2 cups of high gluten white
1 tbsp salt
1 3/4 cup of hot water. Stir.

Let rise longer, 14 - 16 hours on first rise. (I don't get this 18 to 20 hour crap, btw. That has been too long in my experience, especially for yeast. The dough is definitely tired and spent.)

This is the kind of bread that I wish I was making when I was single. It is that powerful.

As for fruit and nut additives, I'd be cautious. the chemistry here is pretty delicate, especially with a sourdough. But even with just the yeast, too much change of ph could impede the growth of the yeast. If you do add stuff, I'd fold it in quickly before the second rise. That's just instinct talking though, not experience. Herbs on the other hand shouldn't be as risky and I've had some success with rosemary and thyme. Been meaning to try caraway in my rye but with more rye flour.

As for toppings, I've done sesame, chunky kosher salt, and poppyseed. Brush after 15 minutes with egg white wash or water, sprinkle carefully. If you wait too long, like the suggested 20 minutes, before removing the lid, the crust may be too brown to be receptive to the wash. To compensate I kick the temp down to 425 and let it brown a little longer than average. Helps to prevent burning the seeds/salt. Been meaning to try a cheddar or parm but haven't gotten around to it.
posted by Toekneesan at 11:54 AM on October 10, 2007 [2 favorites]

Hey joe's_spleen, I've been using that recipe too! It makes an excellent sour rye loaf.

In case it isn't obvious, you can use that pre-heated lidded pot method for kneaded loaves, too. If you're using a conventional home oven, it's even better than a baker's stone for light, crusty round loaves.
posted by maryh at 12:04 PM on October 10, 2007

Toekneesan, if you're using that much yeast, then no wonder the long rise is too long.

Doesn't the original recipe call for much less yeast?

Also, I'm really worried at how I wrote flower for flour above without noticing.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:48 PM on October 10, 2007

After the first rise. I generally stick to adding things like rolled oats and other 'multigrains', and if you add them during the first long rise, they lose their concentrated nuttiness.
posted by holgate at 2:25 PM on October 10, 2007

Well I went back to the Times article, and you're right, _spleen. They said 1/4 tsp of yeast. Still works though, And all this time I thought the shorter time on 1st rise was due to the high gluten flower.

But to be frank, I don't actually measure. Like my grandma, I use my hand and have a sense of how much that is. Life line about a teaspoon, money line a tablespoon. But clearly here we're dealing with a memory problem. A tablespoon has 12 1/4 teaspoons. I've been doing it different. I suppose it's testament to how elastic this recipe is. My cup of sourdough starter vs. your 1/4 cup is another major difference, but they both work.

We make bread every week, couple of loaves, been doing it for years. And since the Times article I've stopped doing kneaded artisan bread almost entirely. I switched to just sourdough in the no-knead style in the spring and did that exclusively. That must have been when I goofed the yeast in my head. Just a month or so ago I started with yeast again, for variety, and seems I've spazzed it up.

Though I've got to say that the shorter rise time fits my lifestyle better. I mix the dough at 6pm and dust and towel in the morning. Bake a couple of hours later. Fresh bread for breakfast. How you schedule that 18 hour crap without doing some stage in the middle of the night is beyond me. At least with two young kids the 12-14 hour works better for me.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:28 PM on October 10, 2007

When I've made this I let the first rise go for closer to 20-22 hours: mix everything in the evening, let it rise overnight, do the second rise as soon as I get home (~3 pm) and then bake it in the evening. Not wonderful, timing-wise, but the bread is sooo good...
posted by leahwrenn at 5:37 PM on October 10, 2007

I've added chopped uncooked potatos and garlic, both to good effect, after the first rise. It's hard to keep them mixed in but you can do it. It's pretty awesome if you get good potatos (I have and haven't...)

I've used whole wheat flower and that's been harder. I think the whole wheat flower doesn't absorb the same amount of water so when I do it again, I'm going to limit the amount of water and try to get the dough the same consistency as when I use white flower.

I really love cornmeal on the gets really nice and burnt.

I just at half of a loaf (actually more like a full loaf because I'm doing 2x the recipe). I'm afraid I'm going to turn into a balloon.

Does it give you a little indegestion? I find that it does. Maybe because it tastes so good that I eat it too fast.
posted by sully75 at 7:57 AM on October 11, 2007

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