This is the third attempt (Thanksgiving was #2) of the no-knead bread technique popularized by Mark Bittman earlier this month.
Going mostly by weight:
Flour (370g bread flour, 100g spelt flour)
Salt (10g, about 1.75 teaspoons)
Yeast (0.25 teaspoons)
The approximates the 3 cups of flour to 1.5 cups of water ratio, and resulted in a drier dough upon mixing than did the earlier attempts, when I used the 1-5/8 cups water amount from the actual NYT article. Fermentation was about 20 hours, and the resulting mass was very similar to the amount with the extra water, but a little easier to handle (less sticky). I didn’t have the specified cloth towels (only terrycloth), so I used a Silpat and some plastic wrap for the final rise. From what I can tell, the towel is only used to make the dough easier to handle when you plop it into the hot pot. The Silpat is non-stick so it should be fine to use.
Oven temperature was kicked up to 500F, from the 450F used on the other attempts. Because of this, I unscrewed the plastic handle off of the Le Creuset, which is only rated to 450F or so (some sources say 400F, but I haven’t had a problem at the higher temp). I replaced it with a wadding of aluminum foil to keep in the steam. The lid was on for 30 minutes, then off for 15 minutes.
I also put a dab of canola oil in the pan after I got it out of the oven. This is to deal with the sticking issue I had on the first attempt (on #2, I sprayed with Pam before the pot went in the oven; this resulted in some of the oil burning by the time it was ready to receive the dough).
Note that removing the handle from the lid vastly increases the burn hazard risk for this adventure. Do a practice run in removing the lid while the pot is cool. I have to find a better way to pop off the lid when it’s hot.
Here are the pictures:
The crust turned out much better on this attempt than on the previous ones. Before, the crust was tan and thin. With the higher oven temperature, I got a nice brown crust that had a bit of thickness. While it was cooling, you can hear a crackle from the crust.
This was tasty bread, eaten about 15 minutes after it came out of the oven. The crust was a little more rubbery after it’s sat around for half a day, though. I suppose that’s what’s expected of this type of very basic bread.
Main conclusion? Bake at the higher temperature. I don’t think the flour:water ratio would make much of a difference, but I’ll go with the 1.5 cups to allow a little better handling.
Here’s another good discussion of these techniques.