Sunday, November 19, 2006

No-Knead Update

This is my 10th loaf of No-Knead Bread from the New York Times' story on Jim Lahey’s recipe. It is a very forgiving recipe .

There is a very cool video showing Jim Lahey making the bread.

You can also still read Mark Bittman’s article
about Jim Lahey.

The recipe and the video are about the same bread but be warned that there are differences.
In this loaf I used bread flour, and a chef (about 1/4 c. of the dough from the day before–I dissolved it in a portion of the total 1-1/2 c. of water that I’ve settled on) for leavening. I varied the salt, increasing it to as much as 2 t. but Rick says it’s fine at 1-1/2 t. In the last few loaves I’ve been using kosher salt.

My initial rise is 18-24 hours, depending. I shape, let rest for 15 min. and then turn in to a banneton lined with a kitchen towel. I’ve been using coarse corn meal instead of wheat bran, to keep the dough from sticking to the towel. My second rise, in the banneton, is 2 hr. total. The last 30 minutes, I heat the oven and the pot to 450 degrees. I am using the 3 qt. ceramic pot pictured in my earlier post. The first 30 minutes of baking is with the top on. Then I remove the top and bake an additional 22 minutes. The crust is crackly, the loaf sings, the smell is divine, and the bread tastes delicious. You should try it.
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What I'm Listening To

Rick brought home the most wonderful CD: Gabriela Montero
Bach and Beyond. These improvisations are magical. She is a Venezuelan-American pianist with a classical career yet she has diversified to make this and another disc, and she has gigs at Joe’s Pub in Brooklyn. How cool is that. I wish she was performing in the Bay Area.

The Bach disc is her second recording.
The Amazon page has some sound clips. But one doesn’t really get much sense of the improvisational nature of this recording.

Her first CD is called Recital. It includes works by Chopin, Falla, Granados, Ginastera, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Scriabin. It was released in 2005
Listen to an NPR review that has excerpts. It really emphasizes her classical playing. I have not heard this CD.
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Saturday, November 18, 2006

NY Times Bread Video

It looks like the video of Jim Lahey making his No-Knead Bread is still available. Try this link: Bread Video .

The recipe given in the video is slightly different than the Times' printed recipe. There is a link for that in my earlier post. In the video, Jim uses 1-1/2 c. water (which is what I've been using). He doesn't show the second rise. I have followed the printed recipe. When Jim says instant yeast, he means regular dry yeast, like Fleischmann's.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The pots -- NY Times No-Knead Bread

The yellow pot is marked 3 qt. It is ceramic.

The orange-y pot is a "Mario Batali" pot made by Copco in China. It is enamel on cast iron with a cast stainless lid knob. Posted by Picasa

More No-Knead Bread

I have my 7th loaf of no-knead bread in the oven. This looks to be the high-bold loaf I have been searching for.

I have been experimenting with the recipe and have made the following discoveries.

I read at World Table, a Sullivan Street Bakery site which to Jim Lahey has posted, that when Mark Bittman said instant yeast, he meant regular, granular yeast, like the Fleischman’s that I used in the first loaf. However, I had purchased Red Star Quick-Rise which also contains sorbitan monostearate, and ascorbic acid and I have used that for the last 4 loaves.

I fiddled with the salt. In the first six loaves I stuck with the recipe and used 1-1/4 t. sea salt. In loaf 7 I used 2 t. kosher salt as per the discussion on eGullet . It has loads of wonderful feedback (191 posts over the last week) and lots of pictures.

I also SCOOPED the flour into a 1 cup measuring cup and sort of shook it to level it. I have been going with 1-1/2 c. water since the second loaf. I use coarse corn meal on my kitchen towel for the second rise. On this loaf I did my second rise in a banneton and I think that helped support the loaf during the second rise. It also made it easier to plop into the preheated pot–no burns, less cornmeal flying around the kitchen..

After all of the excitement of the first few loaves I went to Sur la Table to price a 5.8 qt Kiwi colored Le Creuset that I had been coveting. Instead, I bought a Copco enameled cast iron pot with a metal handle on the top (a lovely pumpkin colored Mario Batali model–6 qt. size – half the cost). I had used that for several loaves. For loaf No. 7, I went back to the ceramic pot (3 qt.). I baked it at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, top on, and then 22 minutes with the top off. I got the best oven spring on this loaf and it is the prettiest yet. Have to wait to see the inside and taste it.

7th Loaf

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No-Knead Bread

I know, I know. I haven’t been blogging. I knew when I saw the article in last Wednesdays’ New York Times about Jim Lahey’s bread recipe , that a new/old obsession would take over my being.

So I just took loaf number 4 out of the oven and I’m blogging about this because I need to talk about it.

I innocently started with loaf 1 to avoid cleaning my studio.

I didn’t bother to try to find out what instant yeast was. I was so impressed with this recipe because it seems as if it requires nothing special. And in the video, Jim Lahey emphasizes that the recipe is very forgiving.

In loaf one I used three cups of bread flour measured by SPOONING the flour into the cup. I followed the Times recipe (not the video ) and used 1-5/8 c. water. I used 1-1/4 t. sea salt and 1/4 t. Fleischmann’s Bread Machine Yeast (ideal for all RapidRise recipes). It contains only yeast and ascorbic acid.

Since I hadn’t baked bread for a few months, I proofed the yeast by putting it in about 1/4c. warm water (1/4 c. of the 1-5/8 called for in the recipe) that contained a pinch of sugar. Otherwise I followed the Times recipe.

Of course the probable reason for baking bread last Wednesday was that our heating system was on the fritz and it was cold in the house but I put the bread to rise on top of the refrigerator with the idea that it was the warmest place in the house.

I actually let it rise for 24 hours. I baked it in a 3 qt. ceramic casserole with a lid: preheat oven at 450 degrees with pot in the oven for at least 30 minutes. Plop bread into casserole, seam side up. It seems disastrous but shake the pot and all is well. Put lid on and bake for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake an additional 15-22 minutes, et voilĂ !

I should have taken pictures but I didn’t. Go to Toast to see what my dough and bread looks like. It’s so amazing. What crumb! What crust! The loaf sings! My house smells fabulous!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


It has been almost three months since I posted an entry. What have I accomplished in this interval? A lot, actually. I’ve done workshops with Sue Benner and Miriam Nathan-Roberts that have helped enormously in my design and color studies. I just completed my third workshop in the Drawing to Increase Creativity series with Hollis Chatelain – portraits! And Melody Johnson doesn’t know this but I’ve started a “mentorship” with her! Her tutorials on dyeing have helped me to focus my interests. I am so thankful for the generosity of these teachers.

I think that I started this blog because I thought it would give me a chance to show my work to people who don’t know me. I could not continue without the feedback I receive from friends and family but I know they love me. I think that the reason I don’t use my blog for the reasons I started it is because I still lack confidence: confidence in both my written work and my art. For the next three months I will try to silence that inner critic and just do the work. My goal is to post frequently, perhaps once per week.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Rather Fabulous: EBHQ and Voices in Cloth 2006

I can't believe that I'm so fortunate to be a member of this wonderful group, the East Bay Heritage Quilters. The biennial show of one of the largest and oldest quilt guilds is this weekend in Oakland, CA. This show is always so terrific and this year's special exhibit puts it over the top. The Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection features works by Ruth McDowell, Jill Rumoshosky Werner, Elizabeth Barton, Libby Lehman, Sue Benner, Noriko Endo, Dijanne Cevaal, Jean Ray Laury, Carol Taylor, Sylvia Einstein, Joan Colvin, June O. Underwood, Valerie Goodwin, Freddy Moran, Jane Sassaman, Cynthia Corbin, Caryl Bryer Fallert, and more.

This is a non-juried and non-judged show. I was delighted to submit my quilt, Yellow Pot. This was created from a study I made in response to the first Simple Still Life challenge. I wish I took part in this every month. Thank you Debra Roby for providing the inspiration for my quilt. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Maps and Landscapes

Seeing Diane's newest work in her entry, View from Above, reminded me that I had intended to post about a small piece that I had finished. It is about 16" x 18". I imagined a series of map/landscape quilts. I have always enjoyed combining piecing with applique and was challenged by the orange commercial fabric that is the background. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Daphne odora 'Aureo-marginata'

The Daphne is in bloom. Actually, the first blossoms opened on Saturday. But today was the first time that I was knocked out by the perfume. I probably shouldn't be blogging about this plant--it might be bad karma. I've had such good luck with it. It graces the garden by my front door and the fragrance is intoxicating. My goal has been to have fragrance year-round in this garden. I'm still working on it. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

New Year's Walk -- Mimosa

Probably Acacia baileyana, this is one of the first blooms of the New Year. My neighbor called this mimosa. I love that name. I moved to California from the midwest, after a short stint in Boston, and this was a discovery for me. The bright, cheerful, fuzzy-looking balls were kind of magical. The foliage is a feathery, finely cut blue-grey. The blossoms are very fragrant and when we first moved here I would cut big bunches and bring it into the house. It seeds out and some find this plant weedy. It might be the California answer to Forsythia, which is not widely grown. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The New Year's Walk

Rick and I took the New Year’s walk early to beat the rain forecast for today. Growing up at 96th and Madison in New York, Rick and his dad and brother would traditionally take a walk around a body of water on New Year’s day. The first walk was in 1954 in Central Park. He never misses--rain, snow, etc. I joined in on the tradition in 1976, in Berkeley, to and around Lake Temescal. Our traditional walk in Orinda is from our house to Lake Cascade, around and back.

We are bracing for the next storm to hit Northern California. Is this the Pineapple Express? The forecasters have been saying that the storms are stacked up all the way to the Philippines . When we went on our walk it was 54 degrees and the low last night wasn’t much colder. We awoke Saturday morning to water in our kitchen from a flooded patio from very heavy rains Friday night and Saturday morning. My rain gauge was full at 5-1/2". We were lucky. No power-outs. But the soil is saturated and the next storm is supposed to move through very quickly.


Florist cyclamen can be planted out in my Sunset Zone 16 garden. What a good idea to protect the beautiful heart-shaped leaves from slugs. Too bad I didn't! The leaves alone make the plant a worthy object in the garden but I love the furled buds. I really should plan to plant some of the choice species. The small ones are so charming in my friend Janine's garden. C. cilium is said to be fragrant as is C. purpurescens. I think C. coum is available and C. hederifolium is said to be easy. Posted by Picasa