No-Knead (Really, Automatic Knead) Bread

  • Serves: Makes one 1 1/2-pound loaf
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  • Comments: 3

Variation: Whole Wheat No-Knead (Really, Automatic Knead ) Bread

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QUESTION: What are No-Knead Breads?

SARAH SAYS: It’'s where you let the fermentation process, in a sense, knead the bread dough for you, although hand-kneading does it faster. I think the recipe's should be called Automatically Kneaded Breads, instead or No Knead because they are, in fact kneaded! Very moist dough, made from a simple mixture of bread (or all-purpose) flour, yeast, water and salt, is left alone to ferment, some 12 to 18 hours at room temperature (preferably 70 degrees F), and then folded one or two times, rather than go through a lengthy kneading process. It is rested and then, shaped, and allowed to rise another two hours. It is baked in a very hot oven. There are lots of variations, of course.

The bread dough has to be well-hydrated for this to work. The carbon dioxide bubbles produced by fermentation raise the dough and also cause it to have a holey, sponge-like appearance. The bubbles also bounce around the wheat flour’s hydrated protein molecules called gliadin and glutenin, whereby they hook up and form long elastic gluten strands.

There are several advantages to No-Knead Breads: Certain flavorful carotenoid compounds in unbleached flour that are normally lost through oxidation during vigorous kneading are preserved. Long, slow fermentation actually boosts the digestibility of grains and seeds, as well as enhancing flavor and resulting in more irregular air holes and crustier crusts, depending on the type of ingredients used.
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