No knead bread problem.

Discussion in 'Breads' started by mdboatbum, May 4, 2014.

  1. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've made this quite a few times over the years, and no matter what I do, the crust comes out so hard that it's practically inedible. The flavor and crumb are absolutely perfect and delicious, it's just that the crust is like steel. The recipe I use is pretty simple:

    3 cups flour (I've used AP, bread flour and low protein, both with and without vital wheat gluten added)

    1.5 cups water

    1.5tsp salt

    .25tsp yeast.

    Bake covered in a preheated dutch oven (425˚-450˚) for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15-20 minutes or until it reaches 207˚-210˚ internal temp.

    Anyone see any glaring mistakes? This is driving me nuts. I can usually do ok in the kitchen, but I cannot make this recipe work.
  2. How long was your first and second rise?

  3. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It's the no knead bread recipe that's been around for years. 18-24 hour first rise, 1-2 hour second rise.
  4. Yeah, it's Jim Lahey's recipe.
    Is it the bottom crust that's the problem?
  5. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Whole thing. It's like an eighth of an inch thick and hard as a rock. Literally can hardly cut through it with a sharp serrated bread knife.
  6. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Over the past 6 or 7 years I've probably made it a dozen times, all with this ridiculously hard crust. Can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Have you tried a pan of water in the oven for steam ..... some stoves need it...
  8. tank

    tank Smoke Blower

    I just got into making this recipe recently.  Where in your oven are you placing your dutch oven?  I started out placing my dutch oven toward the bottom of my oven.  Since then I have moved it up.  In my experience the higher in the oven the bread sits the softer the crust gets.  Also when are you taking temps of your bread?  I can not verify this but read somewhere that after the lid is removed most of the baking is done and without the lid is just to firm up the crust.  Maybe take a temp reading when the lid is removed and shorten the cook time without the lid.  Also does your oven tend to run a little hot?
  9. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I haven't, since it calls for baking in a Dutch oven with the lid on, I was under the impression that it got its steam from the high level of moisture in the dough. I've steamed baguettes and had better results, so maybe that's the ticket.
    I may try that. It's essentially the same recipe ,but no Dutch oven and uses the steam pan that Dave mentioned.
    I usually put it smack dab in the middle, but I'll try lifting it up. My oven is usually right on target. In fact, with this last batch I ran it at 425˚ rather than the 450˚ the recipe calls for, thinking that maybe I'd been over cooking it.

    Thanks for the help everyone. I really can't figure out the problem. This recipe is well documented and pretty famous, and I seem to be the only one having this problem. So its clearly something I'm doing. I've followed the recipe to a "T", as well as making small tweaks to try to alleviate the problem, but still I get the inedible crust. I've used different Dutch ovens, and even 2 different ovens as we got a new one a couple years ago. I'm not giving up. there has to be a solution!!
  10. tank

    tank Smoke Blower

    What is the crust like when you take the lid off?  What size of dutch oven are you using?  Are you putting a whole recipe into your dutch oven or splitting it?  Are you preheating your dutch oven and the lid?  There has to be an easy answer to this.  Lets figure it out.
  11. darwin101

    darwin101 Meat Mopper

    Steam helps create a crisp crust, this is normal when high hydration doughs are cooked in a DO.  I love a good crispy crust with some butter. :)  Have you tried it without the lid?  

    A lower temp might also help, not sure on this part.
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  12. samy

    samy Newbie

    Been making bread in my dutch oven using coals on top and bottom. I got the same hard crust especially on the bottom when preheating to 425 and baking for 35 minutes. I've since lowered the preheating to 400 and baked for 45 minutes. Slow and low rule like smoking. Seems to help a bit but considering I use only whole wheat flour, that's good cause it has more protein which is harder than white.
  13. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    FINALLY!! I'm not sure what I did differently this time, but it finally came out with a nice, crisp yet tender crust. Only thing I did differently really was to splash some water ( maybe a tablespoon) on the bread and the sides of the preheated Dutch oven as I was putting it in the oven. Oh, I also cut the lid off time down to 4 minutes after the 30 minutes with the lid on, which I suspect made the most difference.
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That looks like a winner.... Thumbs Up
  15. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    X 2----I'd Eat It !!![​IMG]

    Beautiful !![​IMG]

  16. java

    java Smoking Fanatic

    I dont know, but that last loaf looks like you might need more practice.

    { better send it this way quick so you can try again}

    Good job figuring it out.
  17. mark66

    mark66 Fire Starter

    Add 2 tbs of oil to your dough. After its done cover it with a dishtowel till it cools down. Looks to me that your yeast quantity is low (for 3 cups flour 1/2 tbs yeast) All yeast needs little sugar to work also. Just my 2 cents. With the big crack on top looks like its baking to fast or it did not rise long enough. The top gets done while yeast is still trying to work till it reaches about 110 internal.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2014
  18. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thanks but this isn't a regular yeast bread recipe. It's a no knead recipe with an 18-24 hour rise, hence the small quantity of yeast and the lack of sugar and oil. By the way the cracks on top are the seams where I folded it. They're supposed to be there.
  19. Let me ask the one question which is a factor with a well developed recipe.  What is your altitude?  The higher the altitude, the greater amount of liquid which needs to be in your recipe.  Also, adding butter or oil increases the elasticity of any bread.  Brushing the inside of your Dutch oven, and the top of the dough, with butter, helps maintain moisture and makes the bread lesl brick-like.  It also encourages a beautiful color.  Some kosher salt sprinkled on top helps with the overall flavor profile. 
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2014

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