My uncle found a recipe for no-knead bread the other day, so of course it behooved me to give it a whirl. Since the rise time was so loose – 8-24 hours – I inferred that the dough was quite forgiving and decided to try out different rise times to see what the optimal rise was.
First, 18 hours. The loaf was a mostly round, with lovely height and good crumb. Following the directions, it turned out a bit moist on the interior, as though less time uncovered and more time covered (trapping less steam). Aside from that, though, the crust was incredible and the overall flavor of the bread was akin to the French country rounds I know and love.
Next, 20 hours. Same deal, less moist interior because I adjusted the covered and uncovered bake times. There was a little less of a rise, and the salt flavor was more pronounced. I’ll probably be using this loaf for some savory bread pudding, once I defrost it.
Last, 24 hours. I figured this would be pushing it a bit, and I was right. When left for a final proof, 30 minutes as per the recipe, the ball of dough was actually quite flat and it didn’t improve in the bake. The crust was predictably delicious, though the salt flavor was so strong as to be nearly unpalatable. This loaf will be good for use in a stuffing or something balanced by herbs and onions.
Overall, I think I’ll be tweaking this recipe by adding a touch of sugar in the initial dough for a better rise, a little more flour for a more stable shape, adjusting bake time for the covered bake stage, and limiting my initial proof time to 18 hours maximum.