No-Knead French Bread: 18th Century Breads, Part 7. Cooking with Jas. Townsend and Son S2E18

No-Knead French Bread: 18th Century Breads, Part 7. Cooking with Jas. Townsend and Son S2E18

There’s been a very interesting bread baking
technique that’s been floating around the internet since about 2007. It’s called No-knead
bread. It uses a very simple dough, a high moisture content and it’s baked in a Dutch
oven. I would encourage you to watch the video sometime, it’s very worthwhile. No-knead
bread, because of its simplicity and its great flavor, is a very innovative technique compared
to modern bread baking methods, but I’ll let you in on a little secret, now this is
not a new idea. In fact, no-knead breads have been around for hundreds of years. Today I’m
going to show you how to do an 18th century version of no-knead bread. We’re going to
bake it in an 18th century manner. We’re going to use that old Dutch oven that so many
modern bakers are falling in love with. There are many different kinds of breads in
the 18th century. Some of them were baked from very fine white flour, others made from
very course flour, still others were made with wheat flour mixed with other grains,
but today we’re going to focus on a bread known by the 18th century British and North
American colonists as French bread. Now when I say French bread, what one might think is
a baguette, a batard, or a brioche. Most people think of a French bread as a firm white bread
with an open crumb structure and a crispy crust. Numerous 18th century English cookbooks
contain recipes for French bread, but this French bread is nothing like the modern French
bread. Modern breads made with just flour, water, yeast and some salt. No, these French
breads in these 18th century cookbooks are always made with milk and sometimes eggs and
butter. This English version of French bread was made into loaves or into rolls. The rolls
were sometimes referred to as machete bread which can mean the quality of a bread or sometimes
its size and shape. This French bread had its crust either rasped away or chipped off
with a knife. 18th century French bread was commonly used as an ingredient in other dishes.
The bread crust was often used in porridges, soups, even in other breads. Let’s make
some of this French bread. In a large bowl, let’s put 3 cups of flour,
bread flour or all-purpose flour will do, and about 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. That’s
it for the dry ingredients. Let’s do the wet ingredients. The original recipe calls
for barm and since nobody has barm, which is the foam from the top of beer, instead
we’re going to make a substitute barm. Let’s start with a half a cup of water. To that
I’m going to add a heaping tablespoon of flour and then we need some yeast. We’re
going to use instant yeast. You need about a quarter of a teaspoon to a half a teaspoon
and then we can stir this all together. Now for the rest of the wet ingredients. I’m
going to take just one egg white. Let me crack this egg, and we’re going to add that to
¾ of a cup of milk and whisk that together. Now I’ve got here 2 tablespoons of melted
butter and I’m going to put that in with 2 egg yolks and we’re going to whisk those
together. Now let’s add this all together and we can put in our barm mixture too, and
that’s it for our wet ingredients. Now we’ll mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients
and I’ll mix them with these. As soon as the dough is formed and all the
flour is absorbed, it’s time to stop mixing. Now one of the interesting things about the
18th century recipes is that they call for this dough not to be kneaded. It makes a very
wet and sticky dough. They call it in the recipe a very light paste. We’ll cover this
with a damp cloth and set it aside 12-24 hours. We could divide this dough up and put it into
smaller, well-floured bowls to make rolls. Now we’ve prepared this batch ahead of time
and it’s been rising about 18 hours so it’s got a very nice spongy texture, so it looks
like it’s time to start preheating our Dutch oven. We’re going to be baking our bread in a
Dutch oven today. Baking bread in Dutch ovens is very common in the 18th century although
our recipes don’t call for that specifically. We have this oven over the fire and it’s
warmed up. Don’t skimp on preheating this. You want it to be nice and hot when you get
started. I’m going to go ahead and sprinkle some cornmeal into the bottom of that. This’ll
keep the loaf from sticking. Just a very thin layer here looks good, and it should brown
up just a hair so you can see that the oven is getting the right temperature. Now it’s time to look at our dough. Now
I’m going to turn this out onto a liberally floured surface. Now your dough may be a lot
stickier than this, but that’s okay, but it’ll help to flour your hands so that it
doesn’t stick, and now let’s pat this down a little bit, let’s fold it once, let’s
fold it twice, three times, and one last time. Four times we’re going to fold this and
now let’s put it in our Dutch oven. You want to keep a close eye on this while it’s
cooking. It’s going to take 25-30 minutes. You want it to be a nice deep golden brown
without burning on the bottom. If you’re going to bake this in your home oven, you’re going to want to set your oven to 450 degrees. There, that looks perfect.
I’m going to take it off. And there it is, an 18th century enriched no-knead bread. Something
that they called, in the time period, French bread. We want to make sure that our bread
is completely cooled before we rasp or chip off the outer crust. The crust and also the French bread as it is, is used in many 18th century recipes. I invite you to subscribe to our new blog, On there you’ll find recipes and discoveries about 18th century
cooking. Also, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you can get notification
of all the new videos as soon as they come out and of course follow us on Facebook so
you can find out all the great news from Jas. Townsend and Son. Jas. Townsend and Son carries
hundreds of quality 18th and 19th century reproduction clothing items and personal accessories,
including a great line of cooking vessels and utensils. All these can be found on our
website or in our print catalog. Thanks for watching and I invite you to come along and
join us as we savor the aromas and flavors of the 18th century.


  1. Though much bread was made with barm, other families kept a sourdough starter for many years. What do you think? Is a sourdough episode something you'd consider?

  2. The bread he showed at the end was not the same bread he baked it was the same loaf at the beginning of the clip. I would also be interested in seeing the inside crumb of the bread he baked after it cooled. Also this is not authentic there was no such thing as dry active yeast back then that is a 20th century product. This entire thing is a ruse.

  3. Darn Jon! Thought you were going to slice and taste.😳😄This is the quickest "no knead" I've seen yet. Others I have learned of have to "proof" at least 2xs and rest for hours. Also I thought you always had to "feed" the yeast some sugar? This was very interesting. Perfect use for my Dutch which I find too heavy anymore for mac n cheese and such to drain etc. I really need to give this a try. Hate to take off the crust tho. So beautiful! Thankyou from the future! Lol. 2018 OMG!😬🍞

  4. I've baked this bread twice and it has come out great both times. One caution I would add. If you're going to leave it over night, make sure the towel covering the dough is "wet". The first time I tried it, the towel dried out over night and I had a dry skin on the dough the next morning. It didn't however effect the quality of the bread or the crust.

  5. No knead bread is just a term for any bread that doesn't require kneading. My mom's recipe is no-knead (and very simple, not to mention moist, rich, and tasty).

  6. I've made this recipe 3 times now. The first loaf was exactly to the recipe. It was awesome.

    The 2nd I added a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar for the yeast to get a lighter bread. It worked well.

    The 3rd I sprinkled a few sunflower seeds along the inside of the folds. Two of us finished off the whole loaf before it was really even cool enough to handle without oven mitts!

    I think the 4th will have fewer sunflower seeds but I'll add some finely ground walnuts and, perhaps, some poppy seeds. I'm one of those who really likes some crunchy bits in my bread if I'm going to eat it straight. Hmmm, now that I think about it, I wonder if a few dried currants or cranberries would make it just that much more awesome for dipping in gravy?

  7. I'm 6 years late, but I did "like" this video. More important, I enjoyed it. I have one of your cook books, but I'm still translating it into modern spelling. The typing is sometimes hard to tell apart, but you know that. It is actually fun to translate, it makes me think. It's like a puzzle waiting to be solved, and I love puzzles. (It is "The Universal Cook, Or Lady's Complete Assistant")

    You give me a great amount of joy. I have no other words to explain how much I like your videos. I love history, I love learning, I like cooking for others, and you combine all of those. Thank you!

  8. I find it hard to believe that a busy housewife from the 1800’s would spend all her time kneading, etc. I think they used this method more often than we think… they had cast iron, even enameled if they were lucky…

    My grandma always taught me to work with a sticky dough but never give it time to stick to your hands… sticky dough makes tender bread…

  9. Great! This is what I am looking for. I would like to bake bread in my Dutch oven. But since I horrendously burnt a cake the other week: How do you control heat and know how much is needed. Is it experience only?

  10. I love your video SO much, it actually made me cry. I love your kind manner and the simple way that you teach. Thank you so much for this, honestly, it made my day.

  11. Made this today. A very nice bread and not exactly "French" as anybody would know it now. The instructions for oven baking need adjustment though — at least on a fan oven. I baked this in the recommended time and the whole centre was raw. Wrapped it loosely in foil and put it back in to bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit and that's where I'll put the temperature next time — for approximately an hour or maybe an hour and fifteen minutes if your oven isn't fan-assisted.

  12. LOL. I looked through the discography of Jims Red Pants and finally found this intro tune called " A Country Dance" . Its on "Jim's New Red Pants"
    not " Good luck to us" . But thanks for the link & Great Traditional music.

  13. Best and amazing quality content on this channel. I sincerely enjoy your videos and have been watching them the past 2 days only.

  14. I love these insights into 18th century culinary fair. I do believe I was born in the wrong century. Thank you so much.

  15. Love your series! Two questions: 1. Is the crust too hard to eat? 2. Do you refrigerate the dough during the 12 to 24 hour proofing process? Thank you for your wonderful work on this series!

  16. The only kind of bread that I don't think is gross is croissants, traditional cornbread and breading on chicken, and steah, and stuff.

  17. Hi! Love your videos! What are you using to wisk eggs? Looks like sticks tied together. I looked on your web site and didn't find it for sale. What kind of wood did you use and how would I make one?

  18. I just said good night to my dough! Hopefully it'll be bakeable tomorrow! I've never made bread successfully before, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Thank you for all the work you do on this channel, I usually have no interest in cooking but some of what you make just looks so simple and doable. Started with the baked onion. One step at a time!

  19. When and, more importantly, why did the english speaking countries develop a distaste for bread crusts?
    I always see sandwiches with the "crust" cut off, which wasn't even a crust in the first place!
    Crust should be an onomatopoeion, a word representing a sound, not the brown layer of a sponge!
    If I had a choice between a bread without a crust, or a crust without the bready parts, I'd choose crust every time.

    Sorry for the rant, but I love bread with a passion…

  20. quick question, is it firm and soft on the inside like regular french bread/baguette? and does it make any different if we just whisk the egg, melted butter and milk altogether without separating them? this looks easy and im gonna try to make it.

  21. When Marie Antoinette said, "Let them eat brioche," this is the white flour bread I imagine that the peasants of France could not afford to eat. Rather, they ate course-ground whole grain breads made from rye and barley.

  22. I made this dairy free for my allergic daughter by substituting soy milk and country crock (with calcium) instead of milk and butter. Turned out great! Now she can savor some 18th century flavors and not just the aromas of this great, easy bread!

  23. In most of your videos you dont roll up your sleeves and I wonder if you get the cuffs in to the food a lot and did they not roll up their sleeves?

  24. Gosh that dough looks rich.
    Are there no beer brewers around that you could ask for some foam?
    Not all the time of course but for when you want something special.

    All that work to just rasp off that delicious crust.
    Kinda like cutting the crusts off of sandwiches I guess.🤗

  25. I am disabled and can not do much. And I could easily skip the business part of this channel. I am from northern Europe, with connection to US and of very old northern Swedish culture, so I like the information part of this channel. It is really stunning and educational. It is great inspiration. I was born 1966 and was very lucky to experience the real and living culture dating from at least 18’th century. The kitchen I worked in as teenager (I am born 1966) was from 18’th century, real, instructed from generations, not reconstructed.

  26. We used fresh water spring as refigerator. I made ”filibunke”, sour milk from unpastourized milk from very old type Swedish cows, nonexistent today. These cows were not exhibit. They were from old age. The real deal. The ones going extinct. The milk hand milked. Cooled in natural spring. No pasteurization. Amazing sour milk. No comparison. Natural bacteria compete harmful, given enough time. That cows. white with black spots. could withstand anything, and their fat milk was amazing. It is all gone now.

  27. Townsends, I am eco engineer with a lot of knowledge, however not valued here in Sweden, especially as Swedes hates disabled. If you are interested, contact me.

  28. I love this channel. I do feel that the camera is zoomed in a little too close to the face. Would prefer to see more of the surroundings.

  29. No traditional bread had yeast as an ingredient. They were made with sourdough starters, consisting of only flour and water. Using yeast prevents the phytic acid from being neutralised by the natural leavening of the bread prior to baking.

  30. That’s the only bread I make, I just adapted the recipe say for cinnamon raisin or rosemary, chives garlic and cheese.

  31. If you make it at home, lightly spritz with cooking spray a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with the cornmeal. For accuracy, weigh the flour & water (20 oz of flour + 16 oz of water). I would leave out the egg and milk and just use water. I wouldn't want to risk either at room temperature for 24 hours. Also, double the salt. Also, cover the dough again and let it raise to double before putting in the Dutch oven. Much lighter.

  32. James knows the future as well as he knows the past….

    Sneakily remarks: "Let's make some of this…. "french" bread."
    Or as we say now: "Let's get this bread."

  33. Dry Ingredients
    3 cups flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

    Barm replacement:
    1/2 cup of water
    1 heaping tablespoon of flour
    1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dry active yeast

    Wet Ingredients:
    1 egg white
    3/4 cup of milk
    2 tablespoons of melted butter (separate)
    2 egg yolks (separate)

    Mix the wet and dry ingredients until all the flour is absorbed. Until it is "light paste".
    Let the dough sit for 12 to 24 hours. It should have a "spongy texture".
    Use cornmeal (or something) to keep the bread from sticking to the baking container.
    Pat dough down and fold bread 4 times before placing it in the oven.
    Bake at 450 degrees (Fahrenheit).

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