Where there is a will there is a way

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How to make whole wheat (BROWN) no-knead bread in five minutes

Adapted originally from Peter Reinhart's book, Artisan Breads Everyday, and the process further refined by my parents who then showed me, Ann and Heber Jones.  

With no-knead breadmaking, half the dough is water instead of the usual ratio of a third.  Longer sitting times means the dough forms the gluten chains on their own.  (For more on the fascinating chemistry of breads, and also wine, beer, etc,  read this book: The Mini Farming Guide to Fermenting, by Brett L. Markham)

The Five Minute Method

Makes two loaves.  My dad's modification:  you can use either instant or non-instant yeast with this recipe.  Ann and Heber say:   "We found weighing the ingredients with a digital kitchen scale gave consistent results."  I use the whole wheat no-knead bread as my opportunity to add multi-grains, and linseed, sesame, or sunflower seeds.  Hey, if you're going to be eating brown bread, you might as well go all the way and make it as healthy as possible.  The white no-knead (artisan) bread is more of a yummy bread to have with dinner, or as toast.

539g lukewarm water 
14g salt 
5g yeast (or 4g instant yeast)
43g oil 
43g sugar or honey 
680g whole wheat flour

You will also need a digital scale, two plastic containers for storing the dough in your fridge, and butter or other stiff grease for greasing the containers.

Note: It is important that your flour is of a high protein level. I did find a local supplier (mybreadmix.co.nz)of very good flour, it is 13.5g of protein, whatever that means.  Look for high protein flour, or your bread will not be good.

First, I get all my materials together - two large bins of flour, both whole wheat and white, a mixing bowl and wooden spoon, the scale, salt, yeast, sugar or honey, oil, lukewarm water,and little containers for measuring the salt and yeast.  (I always find this breadmaking process relaxing, since I first did this with my dad.)

He always mixed the dough in an ice-cream pail - see photo, on right.  But any bowl will be fine.  A light plastic bowl for measuring the flour is good, though.

Making the dough

Step 1 - Measure all the ingredients but the flour together in your mixing bowl (or container), and mix well.

Heber says:  If you are using honey, measure the oil first - then the honey will come away more easily.  If you are using sugar - measure the sugar first.

Step 2 - Measure the flour, and add part of it, mixing with your spoon - "get it wet" first.  Then add the rest of the flour.  You are done when the dry ingredients are no longer visible, the flour is mixed in.

At this point, resist the urge to grab it with your hands!  It's really sticky!  You can use a dough mixer, if you find the stirring difficult.

Step 3  Wait 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, stir vigorously for 1 minute.  Give it hell, stretch and pull it with the spoon. 

After I got this little timer for no-knead breadmaking,  it has done wonders for my life as I am a forgetful person  I use it for everything - it even has a magnet so it can stick to the fridge.

Step 4 -  Divide the dough into two even portions, and place into greased containers.  Let rise for a couple of hours at room temperature, then place containers in the fridge for baking 1-4 days from now.

My parents always have a few containers in their fridge slowly brewing - in a cycle of mixing up, storing in the fridge, baking, then freezing the baked bread.Alternatively, you can leave the containers out in room temperature for 12-24 hours before baking.

Baking the dough
1- 4 days later (with the white recipe it's up to 2 weeks, but bugs know what real food is), when you are ready to bake your loaves remove the containers from the fridge and let the dough warm up for a couple of hours.  Then, shape the sticky dough into loaves, and place in greased pans.  Let rise for another couple of hours.  Let it rise only as high as the walls of the bread pan.

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C (350 degress F) and bake for 45 minutes.

My dad showing me the bubbly texture of brown, risen no-knead bread dough as he shapes it to place in a pan to bake it.


I use butter - but it is best to use something "stiff" to grease your containers, and especially breadpans.  No-knead bread dough is very very sticky!

For instructions on making crusty white no-knead bread (artisan bread) on this blog, click here.

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