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.

{ 1416 comments… read them below or add one }

rlabohn February 3, 2008 at 9:06 pm

hi eric..a quick suggestion on plastic covers for our first rise….i use the shower caps they supply in hotels.they are perfect…thanks again for your wonderful site

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breadtopia February 2, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Maybe toss all but about 1/4 cup of starter. Then feed that 1/4 cup of starter with 1 cup of flour and 3/4 cup of (non tap) water.

Mix it up, leave it at room temp and note the level on the container. Check it after a few hours and see what’s happening. It’s difficult sometimes to gauge the heath and vigor of your starter if it’s either too wet or it isn’t fed enough as a % of what you’re starting with. So follow the above instructions exactly. If your starter is alive at all it can be made healthy and if it’s healthy it can be made to rise quite a bit (about double) when you feed it.

And more importantly, if it’s healthy then you can get it to rise your bread as well.

Use quality ingredients too. Use King Arthur flour if your store carries it and use filtered water (just not chlorinated). It’s not that it won’t work otherwise, it’s just that you can at least be sure that that’s not one of the variables that’s contributing to your problem.

Good luck and please let me know if you have any.

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G Hier February 2, 2008 at 2:28 pm

The sourdough starter never double the size, but it was fed for 3 days before I bake with it, the firs day rise maybe 1/8 of the volume, the second day maybe 1/4, but smells pretty good.

Thanks for your time Eric,

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breadtopia February 2, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Wow. Thanks a million, Bruce. There’s gold mine of good info and ideas in there. Thanks too for the accompanying pics which I’m posting here…

(BTW – Margaret is the lady in Georgia who describes her parchment paper technique in this post.)

 

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Bruce February 2, 2008 at 11:09 am

Bruce @ 11:09 am:

Hope you all don’t mind this rather long post. I can’t thank you enough for this site and for all the contributors. I learn something from the site every day . I’ve been baking bread since 1974 and have made my share of bricks along the way, along with a few successes. I was first exposed to sourdough when my parents brought me a culture from San Francisco many years ago. Over the years I’ve had great success with yeasted baking but have always had variable results with sourdough. I have given up sourdough baking several times but always come back to it. My current sour was given to me by Dan Leader when I visited his bakery in New York State last summer during a drive from my home in southern New Jersey to Vermont to visit friends. I also purchased from him his latest book "Local Breads", a very excellent story about sourdough baking in Europe with very interesting recipes. Over the years I’ve studied and used all the artisan bread books from Nancy Silverton’s Breads from The La Brea Bakery, The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, Joe Ortiz’ the Village Baker, all of Peter Reinhart’s books, Dan Leader’s first book called Bread Alone, and Maggie Glezer’s great book "Artisan Baking Across America". The variable recommendations regarding sourdough cultures, builds, fermenting and proofing can really drive one crazy.

When NKB bread came out in the fall of 2006, like everybody else I was astonished. However, the keeping quality and flavor of the yeasted breads were, from my perspective, less than I hoped for. I tried sourdough versions but didn’t get the "aha!" taste experience that I wanted.

How very grateful I was to read Eric’s reference to Rhine Meyering’s October 2007 comment. I studied Rhine’s posts and immediately returned to NKB with sourdough, or SDNKB as I like to call it. The results have far exceeded my most hopeful expectations. I am giving up all other sourdough methods for the time being.

On Tuesday night of this week I mixed a sourdough version of Maggie Glezer’s "Tortano" bread from her book. I love the yeasted version of that bread but it is a boatload of work to make. I have a full-time law practice and can’t often find the time I need to make labor-intensive breads. So here is what I tried on Tuesday night: I mixed 400g of potato water (left over from boiling potatoes) with 520g of bread flour, 40g of sourdough culture (half fresh rye flour and half bread flour at about 100% hydration, about eight hours old). To the mixture I added the Tortano combination of 14g salt, 16g honey and 60g of mashed potatoes. Next time I might reduce the flour to 500g to see what happens. I thought I might need a little more flour to compensate for the potato mash and the honey.

I let the mixture sit, covered, in the bowl for 20 minutes and then used a rubber spatula to give it a "turn", which most of you all will understand. Basically I just try to fold over the edges of the dough into the center of the dough, repeating four or five times around the edges. I repeated the turns at 40 minutes, 60 minutes and then 80 minutes. Then I transferred the dough into a covered plastic tub. The dough reached the 1 liter mark. The dough retarded in the fridge for 24 hours and didn’t expand one bit. Wednesday evening I brought out the tub and let the dough ferment for about 12 hours at room temperature (mid to low 60’s in this cold winter weather). This morning the dough had doubled, with a little help from a nearby radiator.

I followed Eric’s process for spreading out the dough on a floured board, giving it a letter fold and then a cross fold. The dough rested for 15 minutes and then I created a boule, seam side down, using my cupped hands to gently twist the dough back and forth in a clockwise and counterclockwise fashion. I do wonder if this deflated the dough too much. Then using the technique suggested by the woman from Georgia? (I can’t find her reference as I write this), I lightly sprayed a piece of parchment paper, put the dough, seam side down, on the parchment paper and then put the paper and dough into a iron frying pan (which has about the same diameter as my baking pot). I covered the dough with a large clear-plastic container, inverted, and let the loaf proof for about 90 minutes. I preheated my oven to 450º. It’s a new oven and 500º is just too hot. I use a preheated cast-iron covered pot which I believe, technically, is called a chicken fryer. My mother always called it her pot roast pot. Who knew?

When ready, I sifted a bit of flour on top of the dough, made three cuts and then gently transferred the dough and paper into the heated cast iron pot. I baked the loaf covered for 30 minutes. The internal temp was already over 200º when the 30 minutes were up but I gave the dough about 10 minutes, uncovered to lend it a bit more color. An instant-read thermometer, along with a digital scale, are my best friends in the kitchen.

My other experiments with SDNKB have been equally rewarding. I am generally hydrating my doughs to about 80% hydration (400g water to 500g flour – those quantities fit my cast-iron pot well – and I use about 40g of sourdough) and am doing the turning when possible. I got the turning idea not only from the Tortano recipe but also from Maggie Glezer’s comments about Craig Ponsford’s ciabatta recipe on page 104 of her book "Artisan Bread Baking Across America". She writes "Craig used some unusual techniques when he made this bread (ciabatta) for me. He hardly mixes the dough at all, bragging that his dough is actually lumpy when it comes out of the mixer (not really). But he does mix his doughs very little, and turns or folds the dough as it is fermenting to develop the gluten. He believes that minimizing the dough’s exposure to the air allows the bread to retain its creamy color and wheaty aroma and flavor. He also likes to give his dough a loose letter fold, instead of leaving it as it is cut." Some familiar? Sounds like a nice, wet NKB dough to me. I thought that adding four turns as part of my SDNKB standard operating procedure, if I had the time, would be easy and worthwhile.

I guess I will experiment with increasing the hydration for SDNKB to 85% with a few breads. I also have a 400g/500g rye bread dough in the fridge which I am giving a full 48 hour retarding. I’m wondering how that will turn out since I’ve never waited a full 48 hours before.

I made the pecan/craisin loaf on Monday: my wife thought it so good that she says that she’ll keep me for a 37th year….. Thank you, Eric!

Having written all this, I still think that Rhine’s suggestion about the 24-48 hour pre-ferment retarding in the fridge has made all the difference in terms of sourdough NKB flavor. Thank you Rhine! Has anyone tried Rhine’s method with yeasted doughs?

I have several more ideas and questions which I would love to share if this posting is useful to anyone.

Thanks again to you all. Bruce

(Eric’s note: see Bruce’s pics immediately below.)

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breadtopia February 2, 2008 at 10:35 am

To G Hier – Does your sourdough starter rise well in its container when you feed it?

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Peter February 2, 2008 at 8:09 am

This is for Jeannie’s 1/26 comment:

I have had a similar problem. Local humidity has a big factor. I have had almost the same thing happen and I cut way back on water. I start with about 3/4 cup of water with the rest at hand in case I need it. I mix in the first part of the water and gradually add more as needed to get a dough with roughly the stiffness you see in Eric’s video.

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G Hier January 31, 2008 at 11:52 am

Hi Eric,

I recently obtained your sour dough starter and I baked my first loaf, it was very hard and did not rise. What I am doing wrong? Maybe it needs more yeast?

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breadtopia January 24, 2008 at 6:14 am

That was a nice plastic bag. But, alas, it has bitten the dust. Now I just use those plastic produce bags you pull off the rolls at every grocery store. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they fit over fairly large mixing bowls.

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Jay Menefee January 23, 2008 at 11:34 pm

Thank you, that sounds like a good procedure.

You should offer one of those plastic bags for sale! My first effort I covered the bowl with Saran Wrap and poked some holes but it left the dough a little too wet. The second (last) time I draped a dish towel over the bowl and it left a dry crust on top after 18 hours. Both batches baked up OK but certainly not the best. Found a XXL ZipLock that I have trimmed down a bit and will try that next batch. I hope you don\’t have a \”magic\” bag!

Thanks for such a great web site and all of your help…it makes trying all the more fun.

Jay

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breadtopia January 23, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Hi Jay,

What I do is give it a quick hard spray of hot water from the tap. That rinses it out well without giving it time to get waterlogged (not sure it would, but don’t want to find out). Then I place it upside down over the still hot stove so it will dry quickly. This seems to work very well.

I would definitely avoid using soap.

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Jay Menefee January 22, 2008 at 2:29 pm

Hi Eric,

Just received the La Cloche baker and the proofing bowl. Thank you for shipping so promptly.

I have one question at this time…how do I clean the proofing bowl? Obviously, it doesn’t look like it would survive a dishwasher but should I even use soap? Thanks for your reply.

Jay

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breadtopia January 3, 2008 at 5:43 am

Hi Linda,

Yes, it just takes longer in the fridge.

Starter will eventually go bad if given enough time. Even after weeks of neglect in the fridge, you can usually revive it through repeated feedings. I’ve never left starter at room temp for a long time but I would expect it to get pretty mad at me after a couple of days without food.

Most of the tips and care instructions on sourdough starter can be found at http://www.breadtopia.com/sourdough-starter-management

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Linda Burtch January 2, 2008 at 10:57 pm

Eric, I understand that the longer your sourdough starter “brews”, the stronger the flavor becomes. Is this true whether the starter is at room temperature or in the refrgerator? How long can a starter be left at room temperature? Can it spoil? Any other suggestions will be helpful. Thanks. Linda

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breadtopia January 1, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Sounds great, nice going!

You don’t need a clay baker to get a thick crust. I thought it came from wet dough and high temps. People get thick crust in DO’s too.

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CMpal January 1, 2008 at 4:45 pm

Eric, I got a beautiful loaf with the extra long ferment in the fridge and then 18 hours at room temp. I thought I had killed the SDS as I thought the ovenwas off with just the light on but was still on warm before I realized it and bowl got pretty hot. Anyway, It did raise to almost fill the bowl before I took it out to fold. The dough was pretty wet so I used the dough blade to help fold it requiring little extra flour. I shaped it and put it into a towel lined basket with flour and sesame seeds, no oil. It took almost 4 hours to double enough to decide to bake it. I sprayed it with water and added some more seeds before putting it into the cast iron DO. I put parchment over it, turned basket over it and then used parchment to lower it into the hot DO. It was really pretty, haven’t cut into it yet but the crust is crisp but seems pretty thin. Do I need a clay baker to get a thick crust? My sister likes the thin crust but DH is a thick crust man but he’s dying to cut into it. Maybe my dough was too wet! Happy new year and thank you for this site. I appreciate all this help with my baking efforts.

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breadtopia December 31, 2007 at 9:51 am

Hi Frank,

Cook’s Illustrated recently published their version of an “almost” no knead recipe that I really like. It’s less wet than the no knead recipe we’re all familiar with. They also have you baking it at 425 for about 10 minutes longer. The crust is crispy and nice but a lot thinner. I prefer it. You might try just reducing the temp and increasing the time a little and see if that helps. The thick crust may be a combination of the very wet dough and very high temp, so you may have to adjust both some.

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Frankm December 31, 2007 at 12:36 am

I’ve been using the no knead recipe for several months and it’s always consistently excellent
except for the crust which tastes great but is much too thick. Is there any technique I can use
to reduce the thickness and keep the same crispy texture and excellent chewiness? I use UB bread
flour alone or combine it with whole wheat. I’ve
tried it with UB flour but it comes out tougher.I read your site almost daily for any and all tips and techniques. Help!!

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Jim B December 30, 2007 at 5:51 am

Let the dough rise on sprayed parchment paper put in a bowl.
then when ready pick the whole thing up by the corners of the paper and set it in the preheated D.O .

Cover and bake leaving the paper in place.
When done lift the bread out by again corners of the paper.

No the paper does not burn.

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Jon December 26, 2007 at 5:59 am

Eric,

Follow up, I trusted the time and the bread turned out wonderful. Oh so chewy and great flavor. Now I need to go order that La Cloche. The Dutch oven works great, but its hard to get the bread in to the D.O. w/out burning the fingers!!!

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breadtopia December 24, 2007 at 12:19 pm

What recipe are you referring to? The above sourdough no knead recipe is quite a bit different. It calls for 1/4 cup sourdough starter and no instant yeast.

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allen December 24, 2007 at 12:11 pm

Hi: To make it simpler: if you add 4 oz of sourdough starter to 15 oz flour, 10 oz water, 1/4 tsp yeast, do you do anything more or simply leave as is?

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breadtopia December 24, 2007 at 11:50 am

Hi Allen. That’s not really enough info to go on. Could be a lot of things.

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allen December 24, 2007 at 11:17 am

Hi: when I use 4 oz of starter and yeast do I have to make any other changes in flour or water? When I jsut did this the 1st rise was fine but the second rise was not and I ended up with 2 inch high loaf. Thanks Allen

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breadtopia December 20, 2007 at 9:58 am

That’s a good question, Jon. Except for hot summer weather, I’ve just let my no knead dough sit out for most of the 18 hours (16-18 typically) even when it looks like it’s ready a lot sooner. So I’d say it’s not necessary to refrigerate the dough to delay the fermentation, but it’s a great technique to do so. You could certainly try that.

Another option is cut back the amount of sourdough starter you use. Instead of 1/4 cup, try 1/8. It will take that much longer for the dough to do its thing and theoretically produce more flavor and probably more sour.

Please keep me posted on what you do and what happens.

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Jon December 20, 2007 at 7:53 am

Eric,

I tried, with good success your no kneed bread with a very young starter. A week old. It worked great. Being it is this young, I still have it on the counter. The point I have in question is the 12-18 hour proof time. My dough doubled in 5 hours. I ended up making my bread last night. It turned out great. Probably could have more sour flavor, but still great none the less.

My question is; does the starter need to be refrigerated started to achieve the 12-18 proof times?

I know the longer it proofs the more flavor you get, but if I would left it for the 12-18 hours wouldn’t it have gotten over proofed?

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Jean December 17, 2007 at 4:07 pm

I have been having great fun learning to make bread. I think I have found the a schedule that allows me to bake bread during the work week. Based on the original 18 hours rise schedule I would need to make the dough at midnight to be able to bake it the next evening. After reading some of the comments from other bakers, I have had success making the dough after work, refrigerate overnight, let it continue to raise at room temp all day and shape, raise and bake it the next evening. If my house is cool, I heat my oven to about 80 degrees, turn off the heat and let is rise in the oven during the day. I have found that just leaving the light on in the oven keeps it nice a warm.

I have also found that using a baking mat to flatten and fold the dough works well. This allows me to work with fairly wet dough and add minimal flour.

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Russ December 6, 2007 at 4:17 am

Nice, that makes this a much easier process than I was thinking it might be.

Thanks!

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breadtopia December 5, 2007 at 4:16 pm

Good question. I always just pull it straight out of the fridge and throw it in the mix and it works great.

It does help when your starter has been fed somewhat recently, like within a few days of using, but cold out the fridge is the way to go.

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Russ December 5, 2007 at 1:19 pm

Hi, First of all I wanted to say thanks for a great site. As a beginning baker I keep coming back here and finding tons of helpful information.

I do have a question, something I’m not very clear on: When preparing this no knead recipe from my sourdough starter, does the sourdough starter itself need to be proofed before using it in the recipe, or can you just pull it out of the fridge and throw it into the mix?

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Maggie December 2, 2007 at 2:03 am

Has anyone started a “starter” using beer and rye flour??
Sounds like a good combo !

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Maggie December 2, 2007 at 1:58 am

Has anyone started a “starter” using beer and rye flour??
Just curious…sounds like a good combo!@!

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breadtopia November 25, 2007 at 11:55 am

Thanks Ariela, your recipe sounds great. I’ve made a note above referencing your post. Lot’s of people are interested in incorporating more spelt into their recipes.

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breadtopia November 25, 2007 at 11:43 am

Roy –

What works best for me is to spray with oil like you did, but use wheat bran instead of flour. Wheat bran is what the original NYT no knead instructions suggest for coating the surface. Works great, really.

For not so wet doughs, you can use flour but when you do that, don’t spray with oil. The basket sides will hold enough flour without the oil and then it’s easier to clean too.

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breadtopia November 25, 2007 at 11:34 am

Rynen -

Around 200 – 205 should do it.

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Ariela November 25, 2007 at 8:21 am

Hi Eric:

I really love this website and your videos and comments are just so helpful!

I have been baking sourdough breads for 3 years now. I have two cultures: one that I have cultured myself from an apple and another one that I brought with me from San Francisco (I live in Israel now, btw).
Anyhow, when the whole “no knead bread” craze was going on I was a bit skeptical… how come one can get a good loaf of bread without sweating a bit :-)… Then I came across your website and realized that actually the same method can be applied to sourdough. What can I say? I fell in love!!

I am still making my “regular” sourdough bread concoctions (I tend to mix different flours each time) but I am now also addicted to the no-knead sourdough method. From the get go, I have been using Spelt flour instead of whole wheat (I truly prefer Spelt over whole wheat). The texture and crumb of the breads that I make are just amazing!

I did modify the recipe a bit, and this is how I make it now:
1/2 cup of sourdough starter
4 cups of flour (sometimes half and half spelt and white and sometimes other ratios)
1 tbs salt
1 and 3/4 cups water (or how much is needed….)

I will try and 1/8 cup sourdough method – it sounds interesting.
The first no knead sourdough loaf that I baked turned very sour – it was amazing.

Thanks again!
Ariela

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Roy Dankman November 24, 2007 at 10:32 pm

I baked a bread today using the coiled basket for the final rise. The dough was pretty wet. I lightly sprayed the basket with canola oil and dusted with dark rye in place of whole wheat.

The bread did not come out of the basket without some shaking and the basket had a wet goo of flour remaining. It took a lot of work to clean it.

Question is: Dough too wet or too much flour in the basket? Any ideas will be appreciated.

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rynen griffin November 24, 2007 at 11:22 am

What should the internal temperature of the No Need Sourdough Bread?
thanks.

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Jay Guinn November 19, 2007 at 7:50 am

Well I made the no knead method and it turned out great. The crust was very cruchy and the lofe was a little heavy but the bread inside was not dense. I have bought soughdough before and it did not seem this heavy. The crust on this bread was better than any I have bought before. My wife who enjoys San Fran sourdough bread thought this was just as good. Thanks for the starter tips.

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breadtopia November 18, 2007 at 8:16 pm

Hi Paula,

That’s a wonderful story, thanks for sharing it.

I’ll have to try your technique of leaving the cloche lid on the whole time. Sounds very good.

Eric

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Paula November 18, 2007 at 4:57 pm

Hello Eric,

I’ve so appreciated your terrific site. Though I baked WW bread for years, I had let it lapse over the past five or so. Health issues again bring me back to cooking from scratch. An “accidental” find during a web search brought me to no-knead bread – perfect for my rheumatoid arthritis impaired wrists.

I was delighted to bump into your site while perusing all the NKB information. My first attempts at NKB were less than stellar – mostly I found the bread lacking in flavor. That pushed me to try the sourdough version as I knew from years of baking desem bread that I much preferred the natural starter and long ferments for excellent flavor.

Following your technique on this site using the pineapple juice, I was happy to develop an excellent starter which I have baked with successfully this past week. My last challenge was the crust – I was unhappy with the thickness and toughness of it.

I have a la cloche baking pan from years ago which I had originally used in making desem bread. So today I tried something new with the NKSD bread recipe – I kept the lid on for the entire baking period (as I used to do with the desem). I baked the bread at 450 for 20 minutes then lowered the temperature to 350 for another 25 minutes. Just to be on the safe side, I used a thermometer to check the internal temperature which was 208 after 45 minutes. By my standards, the crust was perfect! Golden, chewy but no so tough I can’t cut it with my bread knife easily. Success!

Now I’m forging ahead to attempt a desem bread with a hybrid starter. Thanks for all the terrific info!

best,

Paula

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breadtopia November 10, 2007 at 10:03 am

I’m not sure of the science, just my experience that when the dough goes on a hot stone (or pot) in a hot oven, I get more “pop” in the bread.

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rlabohn November 10, 2007 at 9:42 am

hi eric a quick question….what is the “science”behind oven spring..and how can i get more? is it a cold pot in a hot oven..a hot pot in a hot oven ,,or a cold pot in a cold oven..

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breadtopia November 8, 2007 at 4:16 am

That’s great! I think your experience illustrates how flexible and forgiving the no knead bread method really is.

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CMpal November 7, 2007 at 10:41 pm

I tried the sourdough no knead with an 18 hour rise in the fridge. The dough seemed a little too dry but didn’t add any water to it. Then I accidentally folded it before setting it out at room temp for rising (forgot) and then left it covered with a wet towel and plastic overnight, about 12 hours, it doubled in this time. Then I formed the loaf to put it into a cloth and flour lined colander, covered with plastic. I got busy with my work and forgot to check it. Not sure hot long it sat, probably 2 hours,when I got to it it was way over the basket and hadn’t turned on the oven yet. I pulled out the dutch oven, but was afraid to heat it up as I knew I could never get this huge balloon into a hot pot so inverted the kettle over the basket and turned it back over. Put the lid on it and put it into the cold oven, set at 500. At 30 minutes I removed the lid and reduced heat to 450 for 15 minutes. My bread was pretty dark on the bottom having filled the pot pretty well. My crust was crisp but not thick and the crumb had large holes in it. Other than being almost burnt, it was beautiful. It had the best sourdough flavor of any bread I have ever baked and the lightest loaf ever. I used Carl’s starter which I’ve had for over 8 years. It had been refreshed a couple of days before. I am really pleased with this long cold ferment. I’m not too crazy about all the bran around the loaf so I’ll experiment with other rising basket buffers. Thank you for your thorough explanation of this method, it has helped me a lot. Very pleased with this sourdough experience after all these years, a loaf that wasn’t a doorstop!

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Rhine Meyering October 19, 2007 at 1:11 pm

Wow! Barely a week goes by and I have a technique named after me. I’m honored! Like most loaves, it was consumed before I could take a picture, but Nate’s pictures above are about what my loaves looked like. One of the characteristics I notice is the crumb takes on a ‘glossy’ look, which I’ve also seen in commercial extra sour sourdoughs.
Last week I tried a different multi-day ferment where I started with minimal starter, then doubled the mass over and over until I had a loaf’s worth of dough. It was good, but not any better than my long ferment no-knead. Needless to say I’ll stick with no-knead.
On another subject, I had a starter that over time started to go bad. It seemed OK (would bubble when fed), but would really break down the gluten structure in the bread. The crust would resist browning, and you could actually see strands of gluten. The crust would look like an ugly white ball of string. I mention this for some of the above posts where they can’t seem to get a good loaf from their starter. There’s a micro-survival of the fittest competition going on in your starter jar. The yeast and backteria are living a happy communal life. But every now and then some new bug may comes along and crash the party.

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Noel October 17, 2007 at 10:40 pm

I haven’t tried the “no knead method” because I believe the kneading is important to gluten formation.

What I CAN say is that I have often add either water or flour to dough before setting up for the final rise. In both cases, I do so on a board, and, of course, knead the water/flour into the dough until it is absorbed.

I guess what I am trying to add here is that just because one is doing a “no knead” method, doesn’t mean one can’t do SOME kneading if necessary to change the consistency of the dough to get the hoped for final results.

After all, after all the work, time and waiting, why not try anything to get the dough to where you think it ought to be before the last rise. There is nothing sacred about “no knead”, so do so if you need to.

– Noel

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breadtopia October 17, 2007 at 1:53 pm

Good question. Now if I only knew the answer :). If you’re pretty sure it’s too wet, I think it should be fine to add some flour. The starter may like a little fresh food.
I would be reluctant to add water if it’s too dry because it probably isn’t going to be too dry and also because it can be a big ugly mess trying to get water incorporated in already mixed up and proofed dough.

Maybe someone else can chime in on this. That is if anyone else on the planet sees this.

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Mary Sue Sylwestrzak October 17, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Thank you so much for your encouragement, Eric! I was wondering…say, when I look at the dough tomorrow, I am sure it is too wet/too dry. Can I try and correct it before the second rise by adding flour or water? Is that going to screw anything up?

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breadtopia October 17, 2007 at 12:39 pm

Hi Mary Sue,

It usually takes a try or two to get the feel of the moisture level that works best for you. Plus the sourdough version of the no knead recipe is a little trickier than the instant yeast as sourdough has its own mind and accompanying variables.

One thing I can suggest is trying to find some wheat bran to coat the proofing basket. I know it seems like a bunch of flour and cornmeal aught to work ok, but the wheat bran really does work much better.

Until you get the routine down, if you have an instant read thermometer you can check for the about 200-210F temp to be reached. That can help too.

I have no doubt your good humor and attitude will get you over the first little hump just fine, but please do report back as you go.

Eric

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