Sourdough No Knead Method

The process of making a sourdough leavened no-knead loaf (at least the way I do it) is almost identical to the instant yeast variety. I just substitute 1/4 cup of sourdough starter for the 1/4 tsp. instant yeast.

Of course, working with sourdough can alter things quite a bit depending on how wet you keep your starter and how healthy it is. Some starters are very liquidy and can be poured out of their containers. I keep mine pretty thick. It has to be spooned out of the jar. I go into quite a bit of detail on how I manage my starter in the various related videos.

That said, here’s the most basic recipe that I use quite frequently.

  • 1 cup (5 oz.) whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 cups (11 oz.) white bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups purified water
  • 1/4 cup starter

The baking times and all that are the same as the basic no-knead method. So you can easily just watch that video but follow this recipe. I usually bake the bread at 500° for 30 minutes with the lid on and then remove the lid and continue baking for 15 more minutes at 450°.

You might have noticed that there’s a bit of difference between what I say in the video regarding recipe quantities and what’s written. The weights shown are probably more precise, but you should be fine either way as there is a fair amount of leeway in this recipe.

Generally speaking, the wetter your dough the bigger the holes will be, which many people really like. However, a drier dough will make it easier to get the bread to rise while baking, giving you greater “oven spring” and a more spherical loaf versus a pancake. With practice, you’ll get so you can come closer to predicting how your bread will turn out just based on the consistency of the dough when you’re mixing all the ingredients together. You can adjust the amount of water and flour to get the consistency that suits you best.

Many people want to know how to make their bread more sour. Breadtopia reader, Rhine Meyering, enjoys success with this by using just 1/8 cup of sourdough starter and extending the fermentation time by refrigerating the dough. Click this link to his October 7, 2007 post to read what he says. It makes a lot of sense based on my understanding of sourdough baking too.

Also, click the following link to Ariela’s post of November 25th, 2007 where she describes her success with the sourdough no knead method using spelt flour. She includes the actual recipe she uses too – very nice.

No Knead Revisited – A Three Year Check UpIt’s been over 3 years since the original New York Times no knead bread recipe was published. That’s also about the same time Breadtopia was born. By far the most common difficulty people write or call in about is with the dough being too wet to handle at the end of the long first proofing period and also when it’s time to place the dough into a covered vessel to bake at the end of the second rise.

When you run into this, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it other than attempt to follow through on the instructions and ultimately wrest the dough into your heated baker and into the oven. Your “mistake” may turn out better than you expected and if nothing else, you’ll learn from it. The next time around you can do one or a combination of a couple things differently.

  1. Add more flour and or use less water than you did the first time. Dough has a way of getting more slack as it sits for many hours so if you start off with the dough being a little stiffer than you think it should be, that’s fine and maybe it’ll be easier to handle later.
  2. Consider reducing the long proofing time by several hours. Don’t get stuck on the idea of 18 hours. Depending on your room temperature and humidity, 18 hours may result in over proofing. When dough proofs too long, the gluten breaks down, the yeast looses some oomph and it can just get downright soupy. Most of the time, I find 12-14 hours to be about right. If you want or need to prolong the proofing time, but don’t want to risk over proofing, stick the dough in the fridge for several hours or overnight. That will slow things down a lot. Then resume proofing at room temp until it’s ready to bake.

The same principle holds true on the second rise. While 1-2 hours is the suggested range, I’m almost always at about 60 to 75 minutes.

Another concern we hear a lot is about the dough not rising much during that second short proofing period. I don’t see mine rise much then either and it doesn’t matter so long as you see a good rise during the first several minutes that the dough is in the oven. That’s called oven spring and it’s a very good thing. By keeping your proofing periods on the shorter side, you’re more likely to get good oven spring from the still vigorous yeast or sourdough starter.

Of course all of the above is assuming your yeast or sourdough starter is fresh and viable to start with.

In summary, most problems can be helped or solved by stiffening the dough a little and/or shortening the rising times.

If you’re new to bread baking, don’t think from reading this that it’s difficult or tricky to get great results. Most people find it a breeze and enjoy success right out of the blocks. Others may find it takes a few tries. It’s important to have fun with it and don’t worry about bombing. There’s no significant downside to bread baking but the upside can be fabulous. Enjoy!

March 20th, 2010 update: Beadtopia reader, Beth Adams, emailed this:

I have been a follower and contributer (through the comments sections) to the site for a few years. I just tried something that I wanted to share. I added a tsp. of lavender to the regular sourdough recipe and had great results when using it for sandwiches. Hope you are able to enjoy it!

For more no-knead recipes using sourdough, check out No-Knead Recipe Variations.

{ 1359 comments… read them below or add one }

Katherine November 12, 2010 at 7:27 am

I have a recipe that specifically calls for whey; you get much more benefit from the use of the whey if you SOAK your grains/flours in the whey overnight before adding the starter and other ingredients to make your bread. Put any whole grains and whole grain flour in a bowl with the whey and stir it up. Leave it overnight, then proceed with the starter, white flour, etc. Here is my favored recipe:
http://sarahs-musings.blogspot.com/2009/10/multi-grain-sourdough-bread.html

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Breadtopia November 12, 2010 at 6:16 am

Hi Jason,

Close the jar. You don’t need air circulation exactly, you just don’t want it air tight.

You could use whey. I just have no idea how it would effect your starter in the long run. It would make an interesting experiment to feed one batch with whey and keep one normal and see how they differ.

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Jason November 12, 2010 at 4:27 am

After you feed your sourdough starter and have it on the counter for 12 to 24 hours in the jar with the gasket missing , do you have the jar closed during this 12 to 24 hour time and the missing gasket provides enough air circulation, or do you leave the jar cracked open ?

Also, I always have plenty of extra clear whey on hand from making cheese and yochee (strained yogurt). Can this clear whey be used in place of the water in the same measurements ?

Thanx !

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Breadtopia November 5, 2010 at 5:55 am

Hi Vlad,

That’s a great looking loaf of bread. I love the crust burnished brown like that. Did you allow enough time for the stone to get fully preheated? In any case, the skillet will almost surely bake the bottom crust more like the top. But it’s not hard to go to the other extreme if the skillet is too hot. Please check back and let us know how it goes when you try again.

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Vlad Zablotskyy November 4, 2010 at 11:58 am

Eric,
Thanks for yet another amazing video. I have made my first attempt at a no knead bread today (photo attached). However, I have neither a stone backer or dutch oven so I decided to do it on a baking/pizza stone.

As you can see from the picture the crust on the top turned out great, however the crust on the bottom did hardly turned any color after about 50 minutes in the over. It still tasted great!

Next time I will try using cast iron skillet, if I don’t get proper bake-ware by then.

Thanks again for sharing your amazing videos.

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fredc October 26, 2010 at 12:44 pm

i have some lecruset imitations and tried wrapping the plastic handle in foil. For an hour at temps between 500 and 475 have not had a problem yet. i have looked at the accessory metal knobs but were $20 around here and foil wrap seems ok so far..

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Simon October 24, 2010 at 8:08 am

RE: Baking with Le Creuset.

The first time I removed the plastic knob on the lid and replaced it with squashed up tin foil. This approach works great, just a little harder to remove the lid when it is hot.
I purchased the Le Creuset aluminium knob from Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0014JRN0Q/ref=oss_product for about $10.

Even better works great, can ramp up the heat and easy to remove when hot.
I also recommend dropping the baking temps from 500 to 450-470 to avoid scorching.

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vicki October 15, 2010 at 7:56 am

Tom, I had the same problem when I started baking this bread. I live in the south and found that my proofing time was way less. I proof the first time for 12 hours and the second for 1 and1/2 hours and it is perfect every
time. Also make sure the temp is below 70 where you proof it.

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tim October 10, 2010 at 7:20 am

I just made this and 500f covered for 30 minutes and 450f uncovered for 15 minutes was way to long and hot, burnt the bottom of the bread. I believe 450f at 25 minutes and 400f for 10 is a better way to go on this. Its a long time getting this dough ready to bake to have this happen.

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Tom October 8, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Well, after making a great and vibrant starter, I got down to making my first no-knead loaf. All went very well, the first proof was wonderful.
However, the second proof left a flat and unrising loaf. After baking, it was dense, yet sour and tasty.
My original thought is that perhaps I did both proofings for too long. So, I tried again.
Today, I made another loaf and kept the first proofing to about 16 hours and the second one to 1.30 hours.
The proofing from the second loaf was still flat.
I have to say, the loaf is excellent and has a lot of air pockets.
But why didn’t the second proof rise?
I’ve been making no-knead for 2.5 years with regular yeast, no problems!
Has anyone else had this experience? I did see some other comments stating that others had experienced the same things.

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Butch September 6, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I’ve been using the NK method and Erics’ recipes for a couple of months now(a delicious expedition in search of the perfect sourdough loaf!).The only problem I’ve had trouble working out has been a tiny bit of scorching on the bottom of the loaves.I re-read the directions for the basic loaf in Jim Laheys book”My Bread”,and decided to follow those instructions as to temp and time and risk an underdone loaf,well that was the answer to my problems.I guess the moral to this story is “don’t be afraid to experiment “.Apparently the variation in oven settings from actual temp can be a lot,I’ve got an oven thermometer that works mechanically,and don’t trust my settings anymore

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jane eden August 22, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I follow the Moro recipe for sourdough. When I leave it for three hours in the tins, sometimes it overflows. I’m not sure how dry or wet the mix should be. And I’m wondering if maybe my starter is too active, or too sour. It’s about the consistency of an icecream milkshake. I’d be grateful for any advice. Thank you

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Erez August 21, 2010 at 1:05 am

Thanks for the replies.
One more…
I baked per the instructions of the recipe but got the crumb too sticky and stiff.
Shall I bake it longer? Appreciate your responses.

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Breadtopia August 20, 2010 at 3:46 am

What I’ve discovered relatively recently is that using a well floured proofing basket liner allows even the wettest doughs to drop right out of the baskets. Rice flour works the best but regular flour works too. The first couple times you try this you really have to work the flour into the fabric but then each subsequent time is easy. Just a little extra sprinkling of flour is all that’s required.

I don’t wash the liner between bakings, but just tap out excess flour. You could store the liner in a plastic bag in the freezer if concerned about sanitation.

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erika August 19, 2010 at 11:28 pm

As to the wheat bran sticking to the baked bread – when the baked loaf first comes out of the oven, and I set it on a cooling rack, I take a dry basting brush and brush the loaf all over to get rid of the baked wheat bran. It comes off quite well with a good brushing with a soft brush.

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Erez August 19, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Hi everyone and thanks for sharing your experience. Very helpful.
I use wheat bran to avoid the dough sticking to my proofing basket. What I get is the wheat bran sticking to my dough. It doesn’t influence the taste of the bread but it comes out no so nice with burnt pieces of the wheat bran on the loaf. Any idea how to resolve this issue?

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Santa Maria August 8, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Thanks for the information around the proofing basket. I tried the parchment paper in a bowl and it worked splendidly–no mess with bran for a change. Will try oiling a bowl next time to save on parchment paper. Just a comment around lids. I believe I read on a no-knead blog about putting tin foil on the Le Creuset lid to keep it from damage. I also believe kitchen stores sell lids that will withstand the kind of heat needed.

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Robert August 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I figured it was ok to go ahead and get it going. I baked it in a stainless steel pot with foil and the top on (no cloche or dutch oven yet but I’ll be getting one or the other soon) for 30 minutes at 500 degrees and then took the top and foil off for the last 15 minutes. The bread came out ok but my crust isn’t as crispy as I would have liked. Even though my starter is quite young (6 days) the bread still has a pretty good sour flavor and goes well with a little olive oil. I have already prepared a second loaf but this time I put it in the fridge to slow the process and will bake it tomorrow.

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Robert August 8, 2010 at 10:53 am

My dough just about tripled in size in 12 hours. Is it ok to go ahead and prepare for the second rise when that happens?

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Breadtopia August 8, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Hi Robert,

Definitely!

Go by the dough, not the clock. When it’s warm and especially when it’s warm and humid, the yeast can really fly.

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Breadtopia August 1, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Hi Santa Maria and Lucy,

Regarding your questions about the proofing basket. They’re made of a rattan cane. When used for the really wet no knead doughs, the dough will stick to the cane if it’s not coated with something like wheat bran. But what I find works the best is to use the proofing basket with the liner. When flour is worked into the fabric of the liner very well then the dough rolls right out of the basket while the liner stays put in the basket.

You can try oiling a bowl and see if that works. What I know works well, that a lot of people do, is line a bowl with parchment paper and when the dough is ready to go in the oven, then you can just lift up the paper by the edges, with the dough inside and just lower the whole thing into your baking vessel. The paper won’t burn and the dough won’t stick to the vessel either.

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Margie August 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm

hi Lucy-
add about 1/4 cup dark rye flour in place of the white flour- it will really make the bread more sour & I think it adds a bit to the flavor.
Margie

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Dave The Novice August 1, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Has anyone else tried adapting this recipe to the “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” method? I have a batch in the fridge right now. The first loaf, made before it went into the fridge, is great. I only used about 4 oz. of starter, and just let the first fermentation go until the dough had about doubled. This took overnight, but I neglected to notice exactly how many hours it was.

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Dave The Novice August 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Hi, Lucy,

Sorry to hear about your handle. I’ve never had the guts to use my La Crueset for just that reason. Fortunately, I also have a Lodge cast iron Dutch Oven, and that works great.

Try cutting down on the amount of starter, and increasing the fermentation time. I do exactly the opposite, because I don’t want my bread very sour.

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Lucy July 31, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Hi everyone,

Just posting on my success with this recipe! It was the first loaf I have ever made and it turned out great!

I followed this recipe exactly, except I used a Le creuscht dutch oven. A heads up though; the handle of the lid kind of exploded, so beware everyone of what temperatures your cooking utensils can handle =l

It really looked like an austhentic sourdough. It looked great, smelt great and the texture was absolutely perfect! The only thing is that it is not sour enough for my liking. How can I increase the sourness of the bread?

Thanks so much eric for the great recipe! im now inspired to continue baking delicious breads =]

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Santa Maria July 30, 2010 at 9:06 am

I’m thinking about ordering a proofing basket. What exactly are they made of? Is it a clay of some sort? From the picures, it looks like a typical bread basket to serve bread–lightweight, straw like. Right now I use a silpat mat for my no knead bread but I do have problems flipping the dough into the pot at times. Thanks in advance for any feedback.

Santa Maria

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Lucy July 30, 2010 at 3:38 am

Hi Eric,

Im really excited to try this recipe out. However, I dont have a proofing basket for the final proofing phase. Can I do this in an oiled mixing bowl? I dont want wheat bran on the finished sourdough.

Thanks !

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Breadtopia July 14, 2010 at 9:05 am

Hi Bart,

Not on this web site, but here’s a classic that’s been around a long time: http://www.joejaworski.com/bread/bread1.htm

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Bart July 12, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Hi Eric! Do you also have a recipe for plain sourdough bread (kinda like the San Fransisco sourdough bread)?
Thanks
Bart

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Breadtopia July 11, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Hi John. I don’t.

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John July 11, 2010 at 11:32 am

If I use the Romertopf clay baker with this recipe, do I still soak it in water prior to putting it in the cold oven and preheating it?

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kimming July 6, 2010 at 9:53 pm

thank you…

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Lou June 30, 2010 at 6:26 pm

I’ve been dying to get a decent sourdough process down for months now. I read a few things online and got a starter going quite easily. Well, actually I kind of cheated. I often enjoy certain craft beers that are made with various micro-organisms in addition to yeast, particularly farmhouse ale or Saison – Jolly Pumpkin brewery in Michigan makes a really sour one called Bam Biere that I particularly like. These beers often use lactobacillus and bretannomyces (a bacteria that will convert sugar to alcohol like yeast). At the bottom of each bottle is a small amount of “bottle conditioning” that serves to mature the beer. I swirl a bit of spring water in there and add that to my rye and bread flour mixture. Within 2 days I have something that smells distinctly like sourdough and rises madly when fed.

Now to turn this into some “Bam Bread”. Reading this and watching the videos is giving me a little hope that I’ll get it yet. Thank you!

Lou

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Aaron P June 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Just ate some of the bread I made using the no knead basic recipe and baked in my lg. glazed Romertopf clay pot (turkey sized). It turned out better than I could have hoped for. I accidentally baked it at 475 for 30m, then down to 450 for the last 15m, but the crust is nice and chewy, but not to the point that it cuts or jabs, and the bread is full of big pockets. My wife agrees that I need to buy more flour! Next is the sourdough from the pineapple starter I made last week. I plan to use your No Knead recipe for this but I want to make a larger loaf. Will this be a simple matter of doubling everything the follow the same baking times, or is there a formula I need to follow?
Any help would be grand. Thank you.

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Dianne June 21, 2010 at 6:54 am

G’day,
Would you be able to write this recipe out for me in grams? I’m using metric measurements and I know it’s more accurate if I measure the water out in grams too rather than cups. I have an imperial scale, but I don’t have imperial cup sizes, so metric all the way would be SO helpful.
Dianne

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Annette June 18, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Penny, you are absolutely right! The nasty smell did go away. I added the whey, and almost immediately it started to smell and act like sourdough starter, and not…um….vomit. It’s not quite there yet, but getting better. The last loaf I baked rose a bit more than the first, but still a little flat. I anticipate in a week or two more, I’ll have what I’m looking for. The taste is really wonderful already, and I keep reading that it will only improve. I feel lucky that it only took two tries. I know some folks have lots of failures before it “takes”.

I’ve also sent for some of Carl’s starter. That should be fun, as well.

Thanks for the advice!

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Penny Ritzman June 18, 2010 at 4:55 am

Annette –

When you first begin a starter, you will be growing things you won’t want. I remember how disgusting my first few days of starter were. I would stir it and almost gag! It all depends on what takes hold and starts to grow. Eventually the bad stuff dies out and the good stuff stays. This is why I would never use a starter until it is at least a week or two weeks old — you just don’t know what you have yet!

Keep feeding it (I would discard half and feed what was left and kept doing that so I didn’t have a tub load of starter at the end) and within a week or so the nasty fumes should subside and you will start to have a good starter that smells like bread dough.

Good luck! I have had my starter now for 6 months and it is vigorous and going strong!

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Penny Ritzman June 18, 2010 at 4:48 am

A question — when you decide to delay the proof by putting the dough into the fridge — how long do you let the dough warm up after you remove it from the fridge, before continuing on with the recipe? Also, is it better to make the dough and immediately put it in the fridge or is it ok to let it rise for 12 hours or so before putting it in the fridge?

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Gabrielle June 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm

On breadflour vs. all purpose: 2 notes here –
I started out with breadflour and had problems just as you describe, and followed advice to try all purpose (unbleached). This made a difference for me, I assume due to different absorption rates of the two. Now with more experience, I can work with breadflour.
Second note is, keep notes on your successful methods. If you change one thing and success collapses, then you know what went wrong.

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bobby wertz June 14, 2010 at 5:38 pm

hello, After I received your sour dough started I made a coulple of loaves and they were very good but for some reason I started using bread flour in place of all purpose. Everything started getting hard to handle,sticky before and after proofing. Also when I added to my starter after a couple of loaves I used the bread flour to make more. Would this be my problem. The loaves are fine tasting be very hard to work with. I don’t know if it was beginners luck or what the the first 2 loaves I made at the start were effortless to work with. Also my starter has changed from bubbly every time to separated. Any advice? I also think I will get one of those proofing baskets from you .thank you very much.

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Lara June 13, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Just wanted to share a picture. We love this recipe! Finally have the starter working well. Hope to try a loaf with teff flour next – if I can get the proportions right. Thanks so much for this website!

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Annette June 12, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Update…my first loaf was somewhat disappointing. There was very little spring during baking; it was rather flat. The taste was excellent; a medium sour with really nice tones. The crust was a bit crunchy for my taste, but two of the three that tried it really liked it.

I think that in a week or two, I’ll really have something. I can’t wait!

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Annette June 12, 2010 at 7:21 am

On my second attempt, it appears that I have started a usable starter. It was touch and go for a few days, but after a last ditch effort to save the thing with the addition of about 1/2t of whey (from organic yogurt), I almost immediately had something that wasn’t….disgusting. It’s one week old today, and my first loaf rose overnight. I wasn’t sure that it was active enough to work, but so far so good. The dough appears to be a little stickier than yeasted, but overall, it appears as it should. I tasted a bit, and it was pleasantly sour, but has a metallic tang, probably because I proofed it in a stainless steel bowl. I will certainly use glass from now on. Interesting that yeasted NKB doesn’t pick up any metallic flavor from the same bowl.

Anyway, I expect to be eating my first homemade sourdough loaf later this afternoon. I will let you know.

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Penny Ritzman June 9, 2010 at 6:06 am

A picture of my first successful loaf of NKB. Temp was decreased to 450 as suggested by SM below, and the results were beautiful. Love this website.

[img]nkb.jpg[/img]

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Penny Ritzman June 7, 2010 at 7:51 am

Thanks, Santa Maria! I am attempting my second NKB this afternoon and will try decreasing the temperature. I looked at the loaf at 30 minutes yesterday and my intuition told me it was done… I should have listened to myself and taken it out without the last 15 minutes. I loved the ease of the recipe and am determined to be successful!

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Santa Maria June 6, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Hi Penny,

I too had slightly burned bread bottoms in the beginning and moved the rack up once which is where I bake now. From watching videos on Jim Lahey’s bread, it looks a little charred on the bottom which is how my husband prefers it and I don’t notice a burned tasted. I baked at 500 degrees for my first couple of loaves and then bought an oven thermometer (hangs from rack) and realized my oven runs hot so have found 450 to be the ideal setting, for the recommended half hour and then 15 minutes without lid. Hope that helps.

S.M.

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Penny Ritzman June 6, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I just tried the no knead bread recipe for the first time. I had a few oops (for example I forgot to dust the la cloche base, but the bread didn’t stick anyway. I think I got lucky!) but it seems to have turned out fine. One question –

I have a new oven and I am adjusting to its baking. I have noticed that putting the la cloche on the lowest oven tray setting results in burned bottoms, so I have moved it up, then moved it up again. I am still getting burned bottoms. Should I decrease the baking time or lower the oven temp?

Thanks!

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Santa Maria May 16, 2010 at 7:06 pm

I just wanted to thank you all for your comments. I reduced the temp. of my starter and just left it on the countertop, it started doubling in size after a few hours. I let it do this three of times and then proofed for about 12-14 hours and then removed from bowl and may have let it sit a little too long (a little over 3 hours) as went out, but it turned out nice and high, after baking, with a softer crumb than my usual KN bread. Maybe this is because I used the recipe on Breadtopia and it called for a bit more flour than Jim Lahey’s. It also was nice and light but I really didn’t taste the sourdough. I’m wondering if it’s because I let it rise too long for second rise or used 1/4 of a cup instead of a greater quantity although I think I read about using 1/8 of a cup and then letting it rise longer for a more sour taste so guess will play around with it. Just to clarify. It sounds as if some use the starter right out of the fridge but it has to be strong while others take it out of the fridge and feed it a couple of times and then use it. I used the starter before it reached it completely doubled in size.

I did watch the video which helped. I also explored the website and saw some other sourdough recipes, one for a cranberry/pecan sourdough although video/recipe didn’t want to open for it. I also tried opening the products gallery but not luck there either. Oh well. My husband thought it one of my best loaves yet.

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vicki May 11, 2010 at 8:04 am

Hey, Santa Maria, I have been baking Erics NK for about a year with great results. I had problems at first with my starter. Eric said he thought I might be feeding my starter and keeping it too warm. I live in LA and it is very warm and humid. He said starter’s ideal temp is about 65 degrees. The warmer temps sometimes will kill your starter. I think 80 is just a bit too warm. Once I adjusted my temps my starter just got stronger and stronger, and I have had no problems since. v/

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Carolyn F. May 10, 2010 at 9:37 am

Hi Santa Maria,
First, welcome to the group, I’ve found this to be a great place to get ideas and help with my Sourdough NK bread making. And I know from experience how confusing it can be to get so many different answers. The bottom line is, there are many ways to accomplish the same thing. You’ll find your own groove soon so don’t worry.

I’ve found it VERY helpful to watch the videos on this sight and read the text that goes with them. In the beginning I watched them over and over to let the information really seep into my head!

Regarding the amount of water and flour to add. The rule of thumb is to add, at least, equal amounts (by weight) thus if you have 50 grams of starter, add 50 grams of flour and 50 grams of water. If your recipes call for more, add more. For example 50 grams starter, 100 grams flour and 100 grams water.

You know it’s strong enough when it doubles in about 3-4 hours after adding the flour & water. You’ve probably noticed that once it’s doubled it soon starts to deflate again. That’s because it’s pretty much used up it food supply. I consider it “hardy enough” if it will double this way 2 or 3 times in a row. (Just remember to work with small amounts and use or discard the excess or you’ll be swimming in starter.) So then I feed it one last time and pop it in the fridge to use another day.

And “Yes” use only a portion of what you have stored in the fridge. More and one person has lost their starter because they hadn’t kept any in reserve. Feed or replace it as needed to keep it healthy. Consider drying some for longer storage, too.

I once read using the Doubled starter in my bread was using it at it’s weakest point. So now, once I’ve decided it’s strong, I feed it and wait a little while before using it. Or, I feed it and put it in the fridge and use it a day or two later, like in the videos.

Regarding the density. My biggest mistake used to be letting it rise TOO long. Now I do all my mixing and rising in a giant measuring cup so I can actually tell when the dough has doubled. (I’ve never been good at estimating this.) It’s better to go on to the next step before it’s doubled than to wait too long. If I get interrupted and I think I can’t get to it quickly enough, I just pop it into the fridge to slow it down.

I hope some of this helps. It’s actually pretty easy once you get into your own groove.

Carolyn F.

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Kasey May 9, 2010 at 9:07 pm

In response to Santa Maria:

I’ve been making NK sourdough for about a month now (probably a dozen loaves). I made my own wild starter, which took about 2 weeks. I usually dispose of all but 1/4 cup of my starter, then add 1/4 cup flour and slightly less water. I try to keep it pretty thick and it bubbles up nicely. If I know I won’t be baking for at least 4-5 days, I just pop it into the fridge after a feeding.

After it’s been in the fridge, I’ve had the most success if I feed it for 2 full days (twice daily) before baking. Mine does continue to strengthen even when I store it in the fridge. Not feeding enough once you pull it out of the fridge could be a possible culprit in your bread being too dense. Another thing to watch is how it’s rising. If it doesn’t proof long enough, it’ll be more dense. I let mine proof 12 – 18 hours, then after I’ve shaped and folded it it gets 15 minutes on the board, then 90 – 120 minutes in the proofing basket before going into the oven. Another thing to pay attention to is not letting it rise TOO much. If it over-proofs, you may not have enough oven spring while it bakes. In no way do I mean to say this is the best method — simply sharing what has worked for me personally. I’ve found the comments on this page to be extremely helpful to me, so I hope you find the same. Best on your sourdough efforts! :)

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