Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Slow on the uptake

Alright, I know this post isn't going to come as an epiphany to anyone since everyone in the whole wide world (seriously, there are 52 posts in my Reader alone) has made the friggen No-Knead Bread except me, but STILL, I made it and it's awesome and now I will share with you the many ways I love this bread and a few things I learned so that if you're the one other person out there who hasn't made this bread besides me, you don't do the same dumb shit I did that might lead to disappointment and sadness.

If you're bored of the NKB, I won't blame you if you skip this post and come back tomorrow (ish) when I plan to change tunes altogether and just bitch openly about a cultural phenomenon that I find to be wholly inexcusable.

Anyway, my bread.

I never thought I'd make this bread because I had three or four different run-ins with faulty yeast in a very short period of time and the experiences had broken my bread-baking spirit.

I was off bread baking forever because apparently yeast was my arch nemesis and chose to revolt in inertness when I ripped the package open. It was very disappointing, to go to the trouble of making bread dough only to have it lie lifeless in the bowl, not a rise or bubble in sight.

And I realize that this synopsis sounds a little lewd and lascivious, but I promise it wasn't. If it were, I might have at least been amused but overall it was just sad and made me hate baking bread.

But then Elke made the bread. And she went on and on about its ease and fabulousness and perfect crust and things. It made me want to go back into the water with the fucking yeast to see if it would, by some miracle, work for me again as it once had when I used to bake bread in a flower pot like some kind of fruit.

So, I consulted with my bread-baking neighbor to find out what kind of works-every-time miracle yeast she used (Perfect Rise Yeast) and then I went right over to TJ's and got it. And while I was there I restocked on King Arthur flour because we all know it's the best flour, so there.

And then I came home and did my famous reenactment of Finny Cooks Without Reading the Recipe All The Way Through that nearly took me back to hating bread because of the part where the recipe says, "Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven" which I did not know about beforehand because I WHOOPSY! didn't read the recipe all the way through before starting to bake like a normal person might.


I don't have an oven safe 6-8 quart heavy covered pot. What the fuck am I supposed to do with this big blob of dough NOW? Is what I was asking myself in a loud annoyed voice.

Please don't throw me out. I promise to behave.

Shit shit shit.

But wait. I DO have a crock pot. And it has a big ass ceramic removable pot because it's from the friggen 70s or something before Rival got all fancy and started making these things from shiny stainless steel and stuff.

And that fucker has a LID! An oven safe one!

Hazzah. I had my oven safe 6-8 quart heavy (as all get out) covered pot. Also, I'm now extra glad that I didn't WHOOPSY! donate Bubba's ugly old crock pot back in the day when we moved in together because of its ugliness and how I thought I'd never use a crock pot so why did we need one taking up all this cabinet space.

Sometimes I can be such an asshole. Also, wrong, but you know, NOT THE POINT.

The point is that I have a pot that totally works to the point where I now LOVE our ugly old from-the-70s crock pot even if the LOW temperature setting really means OFF and even though I'm sure it was originally marketed as being "a lovely kitchen appliance in fashionable harvest gold!"

So, what other ridiculous show-stopping events could have kept me from baking a successful loaf of simple bread that doesn't even require kneading? Um, yeah, our house.

Aside from the yeast that was arching me, the house seemed to be taking its side. Perhaps the house is one of The Yeast's henchmen and agreed to arch me relentlessly until I gave up baking bread forever.

Perhaps. And perhaps I've started to lose it when I begin thinking that yeast and houses are evil superhero criminals creating diabolical plans to avenge me. Too much Adult Swim?

See, the bread dough wasn't rising. Or bubbling adequately. Or really doing any of the things that bread dough is supposed to do, like double in size for instance, and it was really starting to piss me off.

*Achooo* *Sniff* *Shiver*

Oh. Yeast needs heat to rise. Our house is not warm because we never turn on the heater. The yeast is cold.

THAT'S IT - The House is arching the yeast! Wait, no, I need to turn on the heater! OR, better yet, I need to put the bread on the bathroom counter, turn on the bathroom heater (we have one built into the exhaust fan) and close the door for about two hours.


The bread bubbles! The bread rises! Miracles happen! I don't have a really retarded arch nemesis!

Ew. Food in the bathroom.

And approximately 3 hours later (after rising and baking), I got loaf #1 that was not entirely fucked up.

And I look purty, too.

It wasn't perrrrrrrfect, sorta only rose right on one side BUT, it tasted ruuully good and looked pretty respectable. For bread, anyway.

You could take me home to mama, that's how respectable I am.

But if I'd had any notion of quitting while I was ahead with the whole bread baking business, Bubba put a quick stop to that. He is a bread loving man, dontchaknow, and as soon as the smell filled his nose, it was, let's say, ON.

I baked again - this time for our Ski Week Menu of Amazing Food - and it came out perfect. Like, I took at least 10 pictures of it perfect. And we ate every last crumb of it perfect. And I even brought some to my mom perfect.

Harvest gold is SO my color.

There's steam coming from the bread. Not that you can see it.

And if you ever wanted to eat the best meatloaf sandwich you'd slice up some leftover Cajun Meatloaf from this recipe of Pastor Ryan's and put it on some of this bread with some sharp cheddar cheese perfect.

I ate this over the cutting board like in the old days when we broke all our plates. Long story.

And when it was gone, I made some more. You know, because now that I've managed to make it right, Bubba has re-whetted his addiction to fresh-baked bread and will. not. be. without. it.

So, just to prove that I could make it again without horrible debilitating failure, last week I baked this loaf when I got home from my run.

Running and baking bread are obvious complimentary activities.

After which, we continued our celebration of Hey! I Can Bake Bread Again! by eating it every which way.

It was raining and we ate fondue while watching old Pink Panther movies. Obviously.

Bread and pseudo-butter.

We even served it to our bread-baking neighbors when they came over for dinner. For the record, they loved it, too. AND THEY'RE FANCY WITH BREAD. So, that means something. To me.

No one said anything about my tubTub though. Sad.

Anyway, that's probably enough about me+bread=luv 4 eva. However, here's the sum of shit I learned that might help you out if you haven't made this and want to:
  1. I recommend SAF Perfect Rise Instant Yeast in packets. You can also get it at Trader Joe's.
  2. I recommend King Arthur Flour All Purpose, Unbleached flour. You can also get it at Trader Joe's.
  3. If you don't have the 6-8 quart heavy covered pot the recipe calls for, a crock pot pot and lid will totally work as long as they're the Oldie Hawn kinds with the removable ceramic bowl with the heatproof lid.
  4. If you can't get the bread to rise or bubble, turn on the heater and put the bread close by.
  5. Use a LOT of flour on the towel before you throw the dough ball on there. Trust me.
The end.


  1. Hmm, where to start?

    Okay, I am the OTHER person in the world who has not made this. And I can't BELIEVE how stupid-expensive King Arthur flour is getting. Five bucks? For flour?! Fuck that. And the MiL has successfully used our big-ass Crock-Pot to make yogurt. I will never attempt this. And we have similar problems with yeasty things that do not appreciate our cold house and will not rise. Obviously, when I say "we," I mean the MiL, who is the only one who is brave enough to deal with the yeasty things.

    And your bread looks perfect. PERFECT. Yay! Now get some real butter, wouldja? Real bread deserves real butter.

    The end.

  2. I couldn't get no-knead bread right, but I get along really well with "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." Yum.

    Nice & convenient, since you make up a bunch of dough then leave it alone until you pull out one glob to make a loaf of bread. Less messy, too, since they don't ask you to use floured towels. I still make a lot of mess with the flour, but it could be much worse.

  3. I haven't tried this since I own neither cast iron pot, Dutch oven (why is it called this? Does it come with a little windmill and wooden shoes?), nor a crock pot with an oven-proof lid. So I have no idea what I'd bake it in. But damn, it looks good. (Love the butter tub too.)

  4. I really must try this, since I have a bread lovin' bunch. My husband might appreciate it more than me asking him to get a loaf of bread on the way home from work.

  5. That bread is SO GOOD an easy.

    I gotta get a move on with my basket. Got all the parts, just gotta motivate.

  6. I'm in the ranks of those who've never made this bread although it is on my list of things to try. I appreciate all your tips (and shared experiences). The only huge heavy pot I have is my cast-iron one that I call my witch's cauldron. I wonder if it will work with trying this bread recipe. Does cast iron interact chemically with the ingredients? Hmmm...well, I'll give it a try soon and find out.

  7. Oh, that looks so good. I haven't tried this version, but I will. I'm with Galadriel and have done the recipes in the 5 minutes a day book. It's fantastic because the dough lives in your fridge all the time until you want some and then you just pull off a hunk and cook it. Well technically, I've never made the bread this way, just the naan and pita and stuff like that and it was wonderful.

  8. Junie, I use my cast iron Dutch oven )for the 5-minutes bread I posted earlier), works great :)

  9. I use parchment paper. Because I'm lazy and no matter how much flour my stuff sticks to the towel.

    Good save with the crockpot.

  10. Wow, that second loaf is perfectly risen! Mine have all looked like your first one. Clearly, I need to employ your heat trick.

  11. I need a heater. My house is way to fricking cold. Because while we do use our heater, we have no insulation, so I'm just heating up, well, the neighborhood.

    But I am so glad you made this bread! I kinda gave up on it, since my breads were ok, but not MMM SO DELICIOUS. Maybe I'll try it again soon!

    And King Arthur's Flour totally rules!

  12. I'm slower than you. I haven't made it yet either. AND, I think the whole pot thing has me stumped. I don't think I have a 70's model crockpot hanging around my house.

  13. I have a removable ceramic crockpot! And I never use it! Yay! Glad to have found a use for it. Can't wait to make me some yummy bread! Thanks for the recipe link!

  14. Congrats! The bread looks fantastic. I even had success with wheat flour and this recipe. Yum!

  15. Well, shit. I thought I was the only person of god's green earth who hadn't made NKB.

    Your captions on your photos are my favorite.

    Geez, I will make it. I mean, it looks really great. Wish I had a slice right now to absorb a bit of the wine.

  16. You really make a good case for this bread, Mme. Finn. I almost feel compelled to try it again, even though I'm almost sure it'll only break my heart. Or my tile, when I hurl the ceramic cast iron dish across the kitchen.

  17. I've been making that bread for a year now, one loaf every two days for the two of us. Because I'm really trying to cut down on salt and because I actuallly found the bread too salty for my taste I reduced from 2 tsp to 1 1/2 and it rises just fine. I may actually try to go a little lower. Salt bad, margarine bad, only real butter will do...ciao

  18. Helloooooo - NKB is SO 2007!!! ;-) But seriously, yours turned out great looking! I stopped making it because I was on to other yeasty-fun-stuff, plus for us it always turned out like a really flaaaat loaf. Yours are nice and round looking. (It sounds like I'm talking about your boobs, but I'm not!)

    And I didn't realize that what I have a really bad case of actually has a name: "Finny Cooks Without Reading the Recipe All The Way Through". Is there a cure?

  19. I looked at this recipe when you mentioned it before because I'm lazy and no kneading sounded nice. Unfortunately I don't even have an old crock pot from the 70s because my hubs is a vegetarian and we never saw a crock pot recipe that complied with that lifestyle. We got a bread machine as a wedding gift last year that I was all ready to take back and return so I could buy new shoes but the man of the house was all, "make me bread, woman" and I was all, "yeah, my mom used to do that and it was nice." So now I'm using this recipe for bread machine bread and it is lazy and delicious. It is not too crusty like most of the other machine loaves I've experimented with. So if you have this huge ugly appliance and think it's the devil you should try this recipe and change your life. The end.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

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Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.