maria lorraine's Profile

Title Last Reply

Why Does New York Have The Best Bagels? Not the Water, the 2-Day Proofing.

I imagine the dough is proofing in the large containers bakeries use. The bagels are cut and shaped later.

The boiling is critical, especially if the water or dough is malted.

about 3 hours ago
maria lorraine in Food Media & News

Why Does New York Have The Best Bagels? Not the Water, the 2-Day Proofing.

Yes, that too. Good point. Nothing like hands and palates imbued with history and tradition.

good winery to visit near petaluma

You've got a goldmine of choices 25 minutes away in Sebastopol.
Easy drive.

Napa Itinerary for 50th Bday Celebration

The Hess Collection is stunning. I believe they offer two levels of wine tasting, at two price points. If you can do one of each, that'd be great.

Why Does New York Have The Best Bagels? Not the Water, the 2-Day Proofing.

Thought this was interesting after always hearing it was the water:

The American Chemical Society (ACS) debunks the theory that it is the water is what makes New York bagels so delectable.

"The not-so-secret recipe to New York City’s bagel bakes is that the dough is proofed in the fridge for two days before being flash boiled and baked to perfection."

Costco Ahi tuna...sushi grade?

My guess: Farm-raised.

May 19, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

Looks fantastic! Nice job.

May 18, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

<<If I'm understanding Step 2, I'll scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured work surface, fold it over once or twice (is that the same as "cloaking?), and then cover the dough and let it rest for 15 minutes on the floured work surface (and not in a bowl). Is that right?>>

Yes. What I have found is that the dough is extremely sticky and tacky, almost like homemade glue. I flour my hands lightly but what's easier for me is to use the dough scraper to remove the dough from the bowl and also use it to fold the dough over on itself a couple of times. Let it rest on your work surface. Flour your work surface but use only as much flour as you need to avoid sticking.

"Cloaking" refers to shaping a loaf so that it develops a gluten cloak. That's different from this step, and you can't really do that with this sticky a dough.

<<In Step 3 I shape the dough into a ball. Is that done by pushing the sides in to "fluff it up" or is there a particular technique I should use for forming it into a ball? And then, once the ball is formed, I cover it and let it rise on that same floured work surface (and not in a bowl). Is that right?>>

I've always found this dough a bit too loose to shape into a ball. That's OK. You can just round the dough slightly using the scraper again. It will form a ball when it's baked.

I wash the bowl during the 15-minute rest and line the bowl with parchment. Plop the dough in the parchment-lined bowl, cover and let rise for the second time. The parchment makes a sling for easy transfer to the heated pot. Just plop the dough, parchment and all, into the heated pot.

Or, I'll wash the bowl so it's clean and plop the dough in with no parchment. When it's time to bake, I again use the dough scraper to transfer to the dough to the hot pan.

Be very careful working around that hot pan -- use heavy oven mitts!

BTW, I use the revised NYT recipe. I've had great success with that. I notice that the instructions are a little different at this link:

Also, remember, if you're short on time, you can bake the dough immediately after the first long rise, and eliminate the second one entirely.
Just pour the dough out of the bowl into the heated pot. Yes, it will be liquidy.

I'm hoping you will see lots of bubbles at the end of the first long rise!

May 17, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

Napa Itinerary for 50th Bday Celebration

Thanks for the mention. Hope you have a good time.
Your itinerary looks great.

A no-knead bread question

Oh, another basic tip: Don't use iodized salt. The iodine kills yeast.

May 13, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

<<Bottled water and fresh yeast aren't baby steps, they're no steps at all.>>

By the very fact that CindyJ has not before used bottled water, she reveals she is a beginner baker.

So for her, using bottled water is a step forward. Remember, she's written she *wants* baby steps.

She wants to follow a recipe that produces great results, not invent her own recipe.


BTW, we disagree on hydration, but I love your thoughts on pizza in another thread.

May 12, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

But for now, CindyJ can just follow the already calibrated hydration in the recipe.

She doesn't have to think about hydration now, and from her posts, it sounds like doesn't want to. She wants *easy*.

May 12, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

I disagree.

Why? CindyJ is a *beginning* baker, and talk of hydration and so forth are advanced techniques. They're too complicated for her skill level and needs. She's said as much.

Scott123 is passionate and well-intentioned, but his tips on hydration are incorrect, including some he's borrowed from Serious Eats. He's able to state his opinion, though, just as I am able to state that only high-hydration dough using (nearly all) natural yeast creates the loose open crumb CindyJ is seeking.

How do I know this? I work with bakers every single day, several times a day. I belong to two Artisan Bread Groups and one Sourdough Bread Group in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've taken basic and advanced bread baking classes for years, taught by the best in the business. (These are all-day semester-long classes.) I've baked sourdough now for 30 years. I've spent years researching sourdough's chemistry and microbiology (this is also my field, though applied to a different area).

Every single loaf of bread that's presented in class and in the Bread Groups includes a description that lists: the hydration, the flour percentages, the levain or poolish or predough, the amount of steam while baking -- that sort of thing.

From observing hundreds, possibly thousands, of loaves, the loose open crumb is always obtained at a hydration level of at least 75%, and usually at 80% or higher. I often see 100% hydration loaves. This is my firsthand experience.

I'd like to suggest to everyone that we respect CindyJ's beginner level of bread-baking and her stated needs, and not load her up with complicated tips and techniques that could make her head start spinning with too much info.

Remember -- CindyJ said that reading Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice made her
"so totally intimidated by talk of sponges and poolishes that I have yet to even try a recipe from the book."

We don't want to turn her off here by too many complications!

Let's address her STATED basic need: how to EASILY get a loose open crumb bread with a minimum of fuss and effort.

Since the Bittman/Lahey revised method does exactly this, I'd like to suggest she follow it exactly as written.

Her other stated need is to be able to "bake a single small loaf that's sized perfectly for my husband and me."

For that, I'd like to suggest she store part of the Bittman/Lahey dough in the refrigerator, and then bring it out and let it warm to room temperature. She can time how long it takes for the refrigerated dough to develop bubbles at her room temperature. After baking, she can determine
if the refrigerated dough brought to room temp results in the same loose open crumb as it did when she followed the recipe exactly. If this works, her other stated need will have been filled.

At that point, if she's at all interested, she can explore other beginner skills, master those, and then possibly go on to learn other skills.

But Cindy has written that she was intimidated and turned off by more complicated techniques. Those aren't what she's asking for. Let's respect that.

May 12, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

I think all theses ideas must be overwhelming, CindyJ.

The entire point of the Bittman/Lahey bread recipe is that it's extra easy to produce amazing bread.

Don't entertain too many ideas at once, like hydration or Vitamin C or even bread flour. Just take the very next baby step. Use the AP flour you have -- that'll be fine for now. As well as bottled water and fresh yeast. Follow the method as written, and you'll get the loose open crumb here.

May 12, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

Yep. The bread will still be good. But CindyJ has said she doesn't want "inside baseball" bread-geek stuff. A tweak with Vitamin C is a tweak far down the line for CindyJ after other variables, like using bottled water, reducing the salt, and correcting the fermentation temp have been employed. She may get where she needs to be at that point. Let's hear back from her and see if she needs more help once she's baked a few more batches.

May 11, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

Why are my chocolate chip cookies so flat?

The sugar does play an important role in cookie height, also.
Watch the video of Alton Brown's complete chocolate chip cookies show at the link below. He explains why the difference in ingredients (for example, white sugar vs. brown sugar) makes a difference in height and crispness.

I've linked previously to the transcript above. It contains all the recipes in print form.

May 11, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

It truly sounds to me as if you have not developed the yeast and bacterial colony necessary for a loose open crumb. The yeast and bacteria (which do most of the work in leavening sourdough) need to spend enough time in a "growth zone" that is dependent on temperature. So, your dense crumb may be due to the lack of time the dough spends at an appropriate temperature, it may be ingredients, it may be both. I don't think the refrigerator temp used in the AB method gets you the active leavening you need.

BTW, the dough to get that loose open crumb doesn't resemble dough as much as it resembles pancake batter. Don't be afraid of that -- the rubber scraper, especially
a silicone bowl scraper -- works well.

Also, that dough has a high hydration -- called a slack dough. It is so liquidy for a reason.

May 11, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

Small steps, small steps. You can't improvise successfully till you play the instrument exceptionally well.

I think it's important to accurately estimate a Chowhound's amount of skill, interest, and time they have to perfect a technique. In this specific thread, the direct question was about mastering a basic skill -- how to get the loose crumb that No-Knead Bread is supposed to have -- and not about advanced/improvisational skills.

There are plenty of threads on Chowhound for those who do desire to learn advanced bread techniques, including suggestions of websites at which one can learn more: The Fresh Loaf, SFBI, Breadtopia, Peter Reinhart, Ruhlman, Artisan Bakers, A Bread a Day, and so on.

I get this gist of what you're saying though. After you have mastered consistently good loaves from standardized recipes, you can move on to advanced techniques. At some point, a baker may have enough experience with bread doughs that s/he can improvise recipes. That involves, like you mention, using Baking Percentages instead of recipes: the ratio of flour to water (percentage of hydration), the ratio of salt and yeast to the amount of flour and water, and so forth.

Other advanced techniques include: making a sponge/biga/poolish/levain/predough; scalding; determining the amount of steam; using bannetons; determining fermentation times; adjusting fermentation temperatures to alter flavor; slashing; stenciling; transforming a home oven so that it is as close as possible to a bread oven; choosing flours and grains for their flavor and texture; ordering flours by the "numbers"(T65, T80, T110, T180, protein content, ash content); and so on.

When CindyJ obtains the loose open crumb in her No-Knead bread that she's supposed to be getting with that recipe, perhaps she'll be inspired to try other breads and techniques. Or perhaps mastering No-Knead bread is all she's interested in learning so that she has some nice bread with a minimum of effort for dinner with her husband.

A no-knead bread question

Here are links to all the NY Times No-Knead Bread articles:

May 08, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

Recipe: No-Knead Bread -- Bittman/Lahey method from Sullivan Bakery.

Please note: This recipe incorporates the info from both the original NY Times Bittman article as well as the revised Bittman article that included tweaks to the original recipe. I give actual quantities to the suggestions in the revised article, and also have paraphrased the instructions.

430 grams -- 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1 gram -- ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
345 grams water, 1-5/8 cups
just shy of 1 T. salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed [I haven’t used this.]

1. Combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 345 g water, and stir until blended; dough will be sticky. Cover with plastic wrap. Rest at least 12-18 hours at room temp.

2. When dough surface is dotted with bubbles, flour work surface and use rubber scraper to place dough. Sprinkle with small amount of flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 15 min.

3. Shape into ball using enough flour to keep dough from sticking.
Cover again with plastic wrap and let rise for about 2-3 hours.

Timing: 2-3 hours is best for the second rise, but you can eliminate it entirely.

When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. Before dough is ready, preheat heavy covered pot with tight fitting lid in oven 30 to 50 minutes at 450 degrees. When dough is ready [it will be pretty liquid-y and sticky], carefully remove pot from oven. [Use heavy potholders and do this carefully!]

5. You can use parchment paper as a sling to transfer dough out of the bowl, or to the heated pan. Shake pan once or twice, dough will straighten out as it bakes. Cover pot with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 30 minutes till browned. Let cool at least an hour on a rack. Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

A no-knead bread question

Were I you, I'd be tempted to try these experiments:

Use the same Artisan Bread recipe, but...
use bottled water and less salt.
Make sure your yeast is a fresh package.
Check your oven temp with an accurate thermometer.
Weigh your ingredients. After all, the error may be your flour is much heavier per cup than what the yeast or water can handle.

Mix it up, then let it sit room temp for 2 hours. Do you see bubbles? If not, let it sit longer.
Then put the dough into the fridge, let it retard. Take it out as needed, just like before. Just let it sit again, without shaping it, at room temp for one hour. Do you see bubbles?
Then shape, develop the gluten cloak, slash, let rise while bread pan is heating. Bake as usual.

2. Make the revised Bittman/Lahey bread, exactly as described in the recipe. Same thing with the bottled water, fresh yeast and weighing ingredients. The recipe is in the next post, but here's the link:

3. Make the revised Bittman/Lahey recipe, but put half of the dough in the fridge for another day. Take that other half out a few days later, let it come to room temp. Do you see bubbles? If so, proceed with rising, shaping, slashing and baking, as before.

4.Which experiment works best? Whatever that is, take the flour and bottled water, and mix them together and let them sit for one hour, before adding any of the other no-knead ingredients. This is autolyse method, mentioned earlier. This method will improve flavor and rising. Proceed as before.

Keep fine tuning. Best if you take a few notes along the way. Don't change the recipes, except for reducing the amount of salt in the AB recipe.
The salt quantity is a big high, when compared to other recipes.

Check on bottled water and yeast freshness.
Change fermentation temperature, from cold in frig to room temp.
Check temp of dough while rising at room temp with instant-read thermometer. Between 82 and 87 F?
Make sure oven temp is accurate.

Good luck. Let us know.

May 08, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

Botulism outbreak linked to Ohio Church potluck

Yes, that was a glaring error. Thank you.

It's true that the pH below which botulism will not grow is 4.6.

But the pH food scientists suggest to be the most safe from growing bad things is 3.4 or less.

What are you baking these days? July, 2012 [old]

Yes, I prefer cast-aluminum too. Thanks for the lead.

May 08, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

What are you baking these days? July, 2012 [old]

Followup on your bundt pan:

Did you use the silicone spiral pan, like the one made by Sorbus on Amazon? Just love this idea and came back to it today.

May 07, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

Yes, I put the plastic-wrapped bowl with dough on top of the frig.

The best fermentation temp is in a range of about 82 - 87 degrees F. An adjustment of only a couple of degrees affects the final flavor of your bread.

Read more here about the effect of fermentation temperature on bread flavor:

May 07, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

I've done the 24 hour rise as well -- worked fine.
18 hours works well also.

But the hours do matter to develop flavor, to give the yeast (actually it's more the lactobacilli than yeast) enough time to multiply and perform their magic.

A no-knead bread question

That sounds great. Yields really good results especially with ample pre-heating.

May 07, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

Sounds like the recipe is not working to create the crumb you want. Best option is to change recipes.

If you don't have a bubbly dough, you're not going to have the loose open crumb you desire.

You may want to try bringing out a chunk of your dough, giving it a quick fold or stir, and then letting it rise without doing anything. See if you get bubbles that way.

It may be that the yeast is already spent when it comes out of the frig or by the time it hits the oven. If the dough has collapsed in the frig, and doesn't ever form bubbles, the recipe and technique you're using aren't going to get you what you want.

I'd first try the revised Bittman/Lahey method published in the NY Times. That's a pretty bubbly yeast dough resulting in a very open crumb. This method uses an extremely small amount of yeast but a warm room temperature for the yeast to grow.

If that works, and you wanted to try the autolyse method, all you do is mix the flour and water together and let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes before adding the salt and other ingredients. You don't need to constantly mix the flour and water together, as some do, just give the mix a good stir and let it sit.

P.S.: It seems to me like your recipe is not fermenting properly, perhaps because the dough does not have enough heat from the refrigerator coldness. Also seems a bit high on salt when I compare it to other recipes using that amount of flour.

May 07, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

Help! My Mayonaisse didn't set up!

Provided you have whipped the egg yolks an appropriate amount of time and have drizzled in the oil in a needle-thin thread, the emulsion should take.

Here are some things that can wrong:

1. The spinning metal blade on the food processor or immersion blender is so forceful that it can actually prevent the emulsion from forming.

I've written about this previously:

Depends on the food processor or blender. Some brands prevent the emulsion from forming; others do not.

2. Use only the yolks and add the oil slowly to begin. Only after the emulsion has thickened do you add the garlic, lemon juice, flavorings, spices, seasonings, salt, etc.

3. Hold off adding any ingredient that contains water until the very end. Oil and water don't mix well, so wait until the emulsion is thick before adding in any ingredient that has water. Citrus juices contain lots of water, as do most fruits or vegetables.

4. Don't throw away the too-thin mayo or aioli. Simply begin again with one or two egg yolks, whip them till light, and then slowly -- in a needle-sized stream -- add the too-thin mayo/aioli.

5. You can always thicken a too-thin mayo by blending in a steamed potato. It has a neutral flavor and really helps with thickening.

May 06, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking

A no-knead bread question

Autolyse the dough and water 30 to 60 minutes before adding any of the other ingredients. It begins the enzymatic action that you'll need. All this means is that you combine the flour and water only, give it a good stir, or keep it on a very low mixer speed. This is before you add any of the other ingredients.

Read more about the autolyse method here:

Also, you should have very large holes in the crumb. If you're not getting that, then something is awry with your technique.

Are you using bottled (unchlorinated) water? (Chlorinated water can kill yeast.)

Is the amount of salt correct? (Too much inhibits the enzymatic action you're creating with the autolyse. Too much salt also kills yeast action.


Finally, are you using the full 18 hours to get the full amount of bubbles to create those large holes in the crumb? (18 hours is the recommended time for the Bittman/Lahey/Sullivan method.)

May 06, 2015
maria lorraine in Home Cooking