With the original recipe of the No Knead bread method, I find that there are a few things I prefer to tweak for the following reasons: Firstly, the hydration of the dough is such that it’s a challenge to handle the wet dough, and secondly, the dough tends to flatten out and it’s not possible to shape the dough. I am trying to experiment with reducing the hydration to obtain a firmer dough texture that allows hand shaping and yet preserve the nice large holes in the crumb.
Jim Lahey’s original No Knead recipe also does not give the weight of the flour. A cup of flour, depending on how you make up the cup, by scooping and sweeping, or filling the cup with flour using a spoon, can have a 1/3 cup difference in the amount of flour.
The flour hydration percentage is a measure of the wetness of the dough. Flour hydration is calculated as: Hydration percentage = water weight/Weight of flour x 100. If you wanted to hand shape the dough, instead of dumping it into a hot pot, a lower percentage of hydration is much easier to work with. At higher hydration eg.90%, the wet dough simply cannot be worked with to hand shape. One must also remember that the moisture content of different flours varies with the climate, and with the type of flour used. However, the No Knead bread method is pretty forgiving, so I don’t worry too much here. But with other non-No Knead breadrecipes do note that different types of flour absorb water differently because of their gluten protein percents so you may need to adjust the dough consistencies, eg. hydration with one flour at 75% may need to be adjusted to 73% or 77% when using a different brand or type of flour. This site explains hydration of bread dough quite well.
Here’s a recipe that uses 70% hydration and I found that the dough can be handled and shaped, yet the crumb has lovely big holes. I used the King Arthur’s Unbleached Bread Flour to bake this bread. I also added soaked resins during the shaping stage, before the final proofing.
300 g King Arthur’s unbleached bread flour
4.5 g salt. (3/4 tsp)
3 g yeast ( 0.5 tsp)
210 g water.
Hot out of the oven and onto the cooling rack. Not as flat as it would be with higher hydration.
“The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.”
― Murphy’s Law