Please wait a few seconds while we redirect you
to the new and improved House of Annie website at !

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Nutella Rocks; No-Knead SUCKS

WARNING: Our entry for this year’s World Nutella Day should not be attempted.

world nutella day 2010

I LOVE Nutella. (Perhaps you can relate?)

Recently, I found some Nutella on sale at a grocery store here. The price was surprisingly reasonable. The catch? It was going to expire within a month. Ahhh! But so what? The way I eat Nutella, it doesn’t take me all that long to go through a jar of it. So I bought two jars!

I came home and decided that one jar was going into some baked goods. I remember Jaden from Steamy Kitchen doing a "no knead" challah with Nutella and Hazelnuts last year and so I went in search of some recipes. I was planning to do Jaden’s challah but got distracted by another post on Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy, who did a Nutella-pistachio "no knead" brioche. The picture of the Nutella oozing out of this really soft, yummy-looking bread and topped with pistachios just got me drooling big time. I just had to make it.

Third Time’s a Charm?

Longtime readers may recall, we have attempted no-knead recipes in the past, to less than spectacular results. But since I wanted to try no-knead one more time, I decided to go ahead with this recipe. I really wanted to be successful. I looked at the Artisan Bread in Five blog and got their brioche recipe. I read up on all the other people who had success. I made my dough THREE whole days ahead for ultimate flavor. I was excited. I was hopeful. I was drooling, thinking of my beautiful brioche filled with Nutella and Macadamia nuts (didn’t have pistachios).

Making the dough was a piece of cake! Just mix all the ingredients together and give it a good stirring and then cover loosely with plastic and let it sit in my fridge for 3 days. So far so good.

Baking day came along and I went to the fridge and got my dough out. I took off the plastic cover and the first thing that hits me is the smell of yeast. In fact, the yeasty smell was almost overwhelming. I was a little put off but gamely forged ahead.

Risen Brioche Dough

no knead brioche dough rising

I took out a chunk the size of a cantaloupe. It was very sticky. So sticky that I had to flour my hands and my work surface quite a bit. I had to add more flour to get it to a workable dough. Then after shaping it (it was really nice and soft), and adding the Nutella, I put it in my pan and let it rise. Again, so far, so good.

no knead brioche with nutella

no knead brioche with nutella rolled no knead nutella brioche

After the rise and the eggwash and the sprinkling of macadamia nuts, I put it into my preheated oven and let it bake. I was hopeful. I was excited. I was drooling and thinking, Nutella brioche—yummy! My kids were all eagerly waiting on the sidelines (because I had forbidden them from eating any of the Nutella as I needed the whole jar for this recipe and they had finished the other jar—told you we wouldn’t have a problem!).

Nutella Brioche with Macadamia Nuts

no knead nutella brioche baked

It came out, cooled and I cut into it to let Nate take a picture and then, not able to wait any longer, I took a bite.

no knead nutella brioche plated





Decent? Ehhh…yes.

It wasn’t like any brioche that I’ve ever had at other bakeries. It wasn’t rich yet light and tender. It wasn’t flavorful, want-to-keep-eating-until-your-pants-burst bread. It wasn’t everything that so many other blogs had said they LOVED. It was decent, but not great. Not even close by a mile.

I felt deflated, upset and cheated. The Nutella was great, even awesome BUT I would have enjoyed it more on plain old sliced bread than this so-called “brioche”. My kids couldn’t wait to eat the bread and they didn’t complain. The Nutella had been calling to them after all. But it was telling that my daughter (who is a bread lover) actually only ate the bits where there was Nutella and left most of the bread untouched.

No Knead FAIL

I was going to post this recipe for World Nutella Day. I mean, how can you go wrong with Nutella and Brioche? You can’t, really.

Except somehow I did.

I don’t know what I did wrong. I followed the instructions. I read at least 10 different blogs and sites using this same recipe and all enthused and said good things and took pictures that looked right and droolworthy. I was sure this third time would be the charm and we would be able to proclaim like so many others that no-knead bread works! I REALLY WANTED IT TO WORK! Really really!

Can I just say that Nutella still ROCKS? Nutella ROCKS and if I had had any extra left, I would have made something, anything else to post.

But if Nutella ROCKS, then no-knead bread SUCKS! The bread’s texture and flavor was not good. I don’t know how to describe it well...The crust was tough and the crumb was chewy, almost as if it were undercooked. The brioche did not taste of yeast nor egg nor butter. It was like eating a Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Kitchen Sponge. The only redeeming thing about it was the Nutella. It’s just not bread that I would want to keep eating.

So I’ll say it now: I’m DONE with no-knead breads.

I’m just not doing this again. The anticipation followed by the deflation is not worth it. “No-knead” is supposed to save you time and effort, but what good is it if the bread you get is something you don’t want to eat? Good breads just need more work I guess and I must be willing to put in the time and effort.

Maybe you’ve done no-knead before. Maybe yours turned out great. Maybe I did something wrong. But we’ve done it three times and all three times, they have turned out terrible. When I’ve baked breads using old fashioned kneaded recipes, they’ve all turned out wonderful. I don’t think I’m such a bad baker that I can’t get this right. So I’m calling it quits. I’ll stick to good old fashioned kneaded breads from now on.

Oh well…at least we enjoyed the Nutella! Happy World Nutella Day everyone!

Cheers, Annie

Hungry for more, successful bakes? Click below:

The Best Cream Scones Recipe Ever

Homemade "Rotiboy" Mexican Coffee Bun Recipe

Malaysian Honeycomb Cake Recipe

Dutch Apple Bread

Bread Pudding Recipe


Mrs. L said...

I have yet to try the No-Knead bread recipe...mainly because for every person that says it came out perfect, I read about such horrible disasters!

But no matter what, Nutella does rock!

Jodi said...

I feel like this is the "Emperor wears no clothes!" moment. I can't stand the no knead breads. I've tried several recipes from Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a day, and they have all been abject failures compared to breads I've made the traditional way. And it's not like I'm not a fan of a good sourdough -- we spent years in the Cupertino area and absolutely adore a good San Francisco sourdough -- but the ABin5 breads have just been rotten.
Sorry you had to waste the time and ingredients on this :(

The Food Hunter said...

I can relate...I love nutella too!

Tuty said...

I can understand your disappointment. Never tried no knead stuff. I am a hard-boiled egg when it comes to baking bread. I need to knead. End of story. It has worked for me so far... so I don't intent to mess up what's been working.

As far as Nutella... the stuff is addicting!

Sharlene T. said...

I totally agree. There's no need to bypass such an easy step for good bread-baking. It just doesn't take that long to knead a loaf of bread. Quick doughs are okay but they're too close to cakey for me. I want bread texture, too, something that tells me my sandwich filling is safe within in its confines. Thanks for sharing.

Bob said...

Nutella is great, another one I just tried is ground almonds and white chocolate. As for no-knead bread, I have no inclination, I like the process.

Ninette said...

So sorry! We've made the traditional no knead bread several times, always ith great results.

dining table said...

Happy World Nutella Day! Let us make our dishes and sweets be filled with nutella!

Dorach said...

Sorry to hear about your bread, as I can identify with that feeling of deflated excitement from failed recipes, more so one that you've waited a few days! I like your honesty. Nonetheless, I think you're a great baker, from your other baking posts.

Sippity Sup said...

I am not laughing at you I promise, but I loved the tone of this post! So I guess I am laughing with you. I cannot tell you how many posts I have read that adore the no knead process. I tried two or three times to so-so results. I figured it was my lack of bread skills. But I know you are a careful cook. You experiment and try to get and understand the best results. But (strangely) you have tempted me to thumb through my copy of Five Minutes A Day and attempt something myself. There will be a lot less pressure now if I fail! Thanks for bringing some reality to this craze. GREG

Kathleen is Cooking in Mexico said...

Nate and Annie,

I don't know about no-knead brioche, but I can tell you that this recipe from the New York Times is so spectacular, you may not want to bake any other bread recipe after you try this. If you use fresh flour and fresh yeast, you can't go wrong. The texture of this break, plus its yeasty flavor can't be beat.

Ann said...

Your honesty is refreshing in the gushy food blogging world!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@All - thanks for your comments!

@Mrs L - I agree!

@Jodi - abject failures, huh? wow.

@Tuty - great advice!

@Sharlene - thank YOU for that comment!

@Bob - another one who needs to knead!

@Ninette - good for you!

@dining table - what did you make?

@Dorach - thank you!

@Greg - Looking forward to seeing your results! Glad that we could take the pressure off ;o)

@Kathleen - I *have* made the original NYT no-knead recipe; it's just not as good as a true artisanal bread. I'm starting to really doubt this Bittman guy's recipes.

@Ann - thanks!

Carolyn Jung said...

Oh no, what a waste of a jar of Nutella. So sad. I remember once how you and Mr. Cooking for Engineers told me you weren't fans of no-knead breads. Myself? I've only made one -- the chocolate bread I wrote about on my own blog, which actually ended up tasting really good. But I dunno -- all the backward calculations you have to do to figure out when to start making the dough if, say, you want to eat it on Friday night, is just so much work. In fact, I think it's MORE work than actually just digging your hands into the dough to knead it instead. ;)

Trout Caviar said...

Hi Nate & Annie: Interesting post and responses. What's really intriguing to me is that while there is clearly a huge amount of interest in "artisan" bread baking, there is even more confusion and uncertainty about same. The no-knead and 5-minute phenoms have struck a chord, and if those work for people, great, but it seems to me that these shortcut methods dumb down the process, and rather than making bread baking more accessible, they actually make it seem more complicated and mysterious than it is--by implying that you need an "idiot-proof" method to make good bread at home.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I feel your pain: A jar of nutella is a terrible thing to waste!

(I Knead Daily)

Nate @ House of Annie said...

@Carolyn - as far as the process goes, I can deal with the backward calculating. The thing I don't like is handling this overly sticky dough when it is ready to be baked.

@Brett - thank you for such a well-reasoned comment! It's true - the traditional ways of kneading bread is just as simple as the no-knead style, plus there's no hocus-pocus involved.

Simply Life said...

yum!I love it too! :)

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Just wanted to thank you again for sharing your experience; I hope you've found other ways to enjoy Nutella :)

Kathleen said...

I guess nothing beats a jar of Nutella and a spoon. :)

Edward said...

no knead bioche worked for me and I made the best cinnamon rolls I've ever had. Anywhere. In my life. I'm 47.

The basic bread is a good bread, if you like tough artisnal bread. There are troubleshooting tips on the site. I have a big expensive synthetic pizza stone filling my oven shelf, and I wonder if that helps. The pizza made with the basic dough is the best pizza dough I've made, too.

the loaves are a bit small and the bread slices sometimes end up looking more like biscotti.

The long cooling time lets the wetter interior and the super hard tough crust sort of equalize. The bread sucks right out of the oven.