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.

{ 1351 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet Moulton September 2, 2008 at 7:54 am

Finally SUCCESS!! I made another loaf and let it rist only 12 hours. It responded well to the 15 min. rest and the rise in the basket was completed in two hours.

The bread was soft and fluffy with nice holes and and good crust.

I put a pan of water in the oven while it was baking…I’d heard that a long time ago – not sure why it was suggested but I thought it might help with the crust. Does anyone know why this is done?

The crust was much thinner and very, very good, was it because of the water?

Thanks everyone

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Michelle August 31, 2008 at 6:49 am

Hi Joe,

I had been thinking about getting a membership to Sam’s club and you have convinced me. Great information. Thanks!

Michelle

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breadtopia August 28, 2008 at 10:32 am

Hi Janet,

See my above post to Charles. I agree with him that you might try baking after just 12 hours. Everything progresses much faster when it’s warmer.

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breadtopia August 28, 2008 at 10:29 am

Hi Charles,

You could also try different combinations of proofing times, like overnight in the fridge and 10-12 hours on the counter, for example.

It is the case that many people over proof their dough. It’s particularly easy to do during the warm summer months. When it’s warm, like it is now, I usually don’t go more that 12 hours on the long rise.

Everybody seems to have a different experience, though, so you just have to do what you are doing by experimenting. I hope you’ll keep us posted on your progress.

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Charles August 28, 2008 at 10:20 am

Janet,

My results are about the same as yours. I think there is too much water in the dough, thus needing 60+ minutes of bake time which is causing the brick crust. My next batch will be with less water, 12 to 18 hours of rise time and bake in the Dutch Oven, with lid until I get the bread temp to 205 to 207 degrees. I will not take the lid off as in the video and see what happens.

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Charles August 28, 2008 at 10:11 am

I hate to tell you this, but you are dealing with an inexperienced baker. On batch # 1 where I added more water. After sitting in the refrig for 24 hours the dough was to wet, way too wet. I baked anyway and it looks good, but the crumb is too compact, not enough holes and no big holes, taste not bad.

Batch #2. Same ingredients as batch #1 but instead of hand mixing, I used my Super Duper Kitchen Aid Mixer and used 1 and 3/8 cup of water. The dough looked good, but after sitting in the refrig for 24 hours, it too is to wet. Baked @ 500 in a Dutch Oven for 50 minutes, then removed the lid, and reduced the heat to 450 for 10 minutes. Bread temp was 199, covered with an aluminum tent for 10 more minutes, finally got the bread up to 204 degrees. The crust is hard and the crumb still damp, but had some big holes and the sour dough teast is good.

I agree with you, I think the 24 hours in the refrig and 18 hours on the counter is over kill. With batch #3, I will use less water, and let it sit on the counter for 18 hours and not do the 24 hours in the refrig. Will keep trying until I get it “right”.

Thanks

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Janet Moulton August 27, 2008 at 3:25 pm

I’ve tried this method 5 times now and each time end up with bread that is VERY dense, and flat (the loaf is about 1 1/2 inches high), the crust is so thick that it is hard to cut.

It rose quickly the first time and was higher at 12 hours than it was at 18 hours – seemed to drop some. It didn’t rise at all the second time in the proofing basket, seemed to not have any oomph left.

WHAT on earth am I doing wrong. I’m following everything exactly as the video shows.

I have made 5 bricks now -

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breadtopia August 27, 2008 at 5:59 am

Hi Charles,

Why, I don’t know what gives. You did the right thing by just adding more water to approximate the consistency you saw in the video. I wonder about the 24 hours in the fridge on top of 18 hours out. The bread will ferment in the fridge too, just more slowly. So the total time may be a tad long especially if the room temp is warm.

How’d it turn out?

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Charles August 23, 2008 at 12:04 pm

Eric,
Recently discovered Bread Topia and the “No Knead Sourdough Bread” video and recipe. I used 5 oz of WWF and 11 oz of unbleached all purpose flour, plus the sour dough started, and salt. 1 and 1/2 cups of water left me with lots of dry flour in my mixing bowl. I had to use lots more water to get what I think you got on the video. The flour was by weight and the water by volume. What gives? I have the dough in the Frig for 24 hours and will let it sit on the counter at room temp 18 hours before I bake in a cast iron Dutch Oven. Will let you know how this comes out and send some pic’s.

Thanks

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breadtopia August 19, 2008 at 9:06 am

Hi Fred,

I wouldn’t reuse the parchment paper.

Regarding your weekend event question, I guess it depends on how soon before the event you can bake the bread. If it’s as close as the day before, I might just store it in a paper bag. Uncut, the crumb will stay fresh for a day and in a paper bag (vs plastic) the crust will stay crispy. If more than a day, then yes I would probably freeze it. Just my 2 cents. Others may have a better suggestion.

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Fred August 18, 2008 at 8:12 am

The third loaf I made with my rye sourdough starter came out pretty good. I used 1/2 cup of starter to get more rise out of it, tweaked the water to get the consistency I wanted and used parchment paper in a glass bowl for the second rise. I plopped the dough, parchment paper and all, into my cast iron Dutch oven after 1 1/2 hours, after poking it with my finger and getting a slight rebound. I got a good oven spring and a nice shape. It didn’t have large holes, but it did have good texture. I took it to a potluck where it was devoured.

Can I reuse the same parchment paper?

I want to bring a couple of loaves to a weekend event. Should I bake them and freeze them or is there a better way to do it?

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Pam August 18, 2008 at 7:05 am

Bill, (234)
I do the second rise in a bowl – the smaller dutch oven gets preheated right inside the larger one. The foil is for the sticking. I tried regular foil but it only works with the reynolds release. It sounds like you have experimented with as many variations as I did and this is what finally worked- I was about to give up! Good luck!

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breadtopia August 13, 2008 at 2:36 pm

Hi Carolyn,

Thanks for your help here.

I have a lot of experience with freezing pizza dough and I don’t know why bread would be any different. I always freeze it right after I’ve mixed up all the ingredients and kneaded it so everything is well incorporated. Then I divide the dough into whatever finished quantities I want and put them individually into well sealed and oil coated plastic bags for freezing.

For the frozen pizza dough, I just take out of the freezer several hours before I want to bake. As soon as it thaws out, it starts to rise as though it was never frozen. It the case of bread, I would imagine you’d have to allow more time to thaw and account for a second rise when it’s called for in the recipe. I guess it will take some trial (and maybe) error to get to know how much time to allow for all this.

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Carolyn August 13, 2008 at 1:43 pm

re: Sticking to the bottom of dutch oven…. a piece of parchment paper will work well.

re: minimizing the spread. Using my “frugal cloche” (which is a flower pot as the lid on top of a terra cotta tray) I use a lid/pot with a smaller diameter and it limits the spread of the dough. But I use a narrow band of parchment around the loaf to make sure it doesn’t stick to the lid.

Tom (233) –
I’m really curious about the switch to the towel, too.

Marilyn B. (230) –
If you don’t find a lid that works on your cast iron skillet, you might want to try a clay flower pot. It would also give you some extra height. I use an azeala pot which is shallower than the standard size. I stuff a ball of foil in the hole, then flatten it some.

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Carolyn August 13, 2008 at 12:00 pm

Hi… The weather has turned hot again, great for growing my sourdough, not great for a hot oven. So freezing unbaked bread is on my mind. I really need help. I’m totally confused about at what stage I should freeze the dough, and then how proceed when I take it out of the freezer. Do I freeze it before the first rise? After?

I have some dough that’s been sitting for almost 18 hours. Can I make it into loaves now and freeze before proofing?

How long does it have to thaw/sit/rise once it’s taken out of the freezer?

Thanks!
Carolyn

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Lynda August 13, 2008 at 11:22 am

I don’t know about the rest of you but I needed to plan a schedule for when I needed to cut and eat the delicious bread.
We picked the time when we wanted to eat the bread and worked backwards. My husband wrote this down for me and it helps me a lot with my crazy, busy schedule.
I wanted to share it; hopefully it will help you too.

MIX dough Fri. 7:00 pm –
PROOF (18 hours) till Sat. 1:00 pm –
REST (15 mins) till Sat 1:15 pm –
RISING (2 hours) till Sat. 3:15 pm –
Put into oven Sat. 3:15 pm and BAKE (45 min) till 4:00 pm –
COOL (2 hours) till 6:00 pm -
CUT & EAT – enjoy!

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Bill August 12, 2008 at 6:03 am

A while ago, (post 193) I complained here that, just about the time my sourdough starter got really sour, it started making the dough go slack during the rise, so that I wind up with a flat loaf and denser crumb but wonderful taste. I’ve been experimenting since with different flour mixes, stiffer dough, refrigeration, etc., and eventually the problem disappeared – but so did the sourdough taste. The reason seems to be that while I was doing all this, I was also feeding the starter with white flour so I would have the option of making an all-white loaf. Apparently this cut down on the acid, so I went back to feeding it with rye flour. Now the taste is back, but so is the slack dough.

You suggested at the time that the acid was attacking the gluten, and I think you’re right, but I don’t know what to do about it. Maybe a teaspoon of baking soda? But if you neutralize the acid, you’ll probably lose the taste, and I have no idea what else would happen with baking soda in there. Might be worth a try. I’ll let you know.

Tom (233) -

I think it’s just for convenience. On the first rise, the dough is sticky and will grab the towel if you let it. Our grandmothers just used a deep bowl. On the second rise/rest – well, you’ve already got this perfectly good piece of plastic right there. On the third (mine, anyway) the dough is covered with bran or meal or flour or something so the towel doesn’t stick. Just my $.02.

Pam (232)

Do you do the final rise in the smaller Dutch oven, or do you preheat them both? I ask because my slack dough spreads out so much I can barely get it in the bigger oven. If you don’t preheat, you might have a sticking problem, or is that what the foil is for? This sounds like it might be a solution for me, too, and I’d love to hear more about it. Thanks.

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Tom August 3, 2008 at 8:27 pm

Y’know, I have a nagging question at the back of my mind about the various coverings used in NKB preparation. The first two rises are covered with plastic, but the final rise is covered with cloth … why? What’s the difference?

What did our forebears use (since plastic wasn’t in existence then)? And why do we rise twice under plastic and only lastly under cloth?

Does anyone (especially Eric) know the reason/rationale? I don’t lose sleep over this, but I do occasionally think about it at bedtime.

Tom.

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Pam August 3, 2008 at 6:55 pm

I have been tinkering with sourdough no-knead all summer with varying results – while the flavor and crust were usually delicious I made many many very flat loaves. But FINALLY I found a solution that works for me- I followed your recipe exactly, with the exception that I placed a smaller (maybe 3qt?) dutch oven inside my 5 1/2 qt dutch oven and lined the smaller one with reynold’s non-stick foil, and only put the lid on the bigger dutch oven. The loaf rises beautifully, it has a great open crumb, it is easy to remove, and it looks awesome! I was on the verge of giving up with this recipe until I figured this out – and I didn’t want to because I know the dutch oven method creates the best crust I will ever achieve in a home oven. I know it sound ridiculous to put one dutch oven inside the other, but the loaf rises too high to bake inside just the smaller one.
Thank you for the recipe – this site is a wonderful resource!

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mike August 2, 2008 at 7:08 pm

No joy in bread land ;~) I couldn’t get it out without cutting it into quarters. I’ll try spraying the dutch oven next time like i used to do with my bread pans and keep you posted.

P.S. it tasted great!

Mike

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Marilyn B. August 2, 2008 at 11:01 am

This question is for Bruce. I have one of those cast iron skillets, but the pouring lips would let steam out if you don’t have a lid that fits over them. What did you use for a lid?
Thanks. Marilyn B.

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breadtopia August 2, 2008 at 10:40 am

Hi Sue,

When 18 hours has already passed, about you’re only option is to refrigerate the dough to slow down the fermentation and hope there’s still some oomph (scientific term) left in the yeast when you are ready to bake.

The better option, if possible, is to just bake the bread earlier. You don’t have to wait 18 hours. During the warm summer months I often go with just 12 hours. If you’re using instant yeast instead of sourdough starter, even 10 hours can be enough.

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Sue August 1, 2008 at 3:45 pm

What do I do if I cannot continue on with the process after the 18 hour rising process, since this would be too late into the night? This is just about my first time for making bread by this method and my timing is off a little. I don’t want to waste the dough, but I don’t know what to do with it if I can’t cook it right away.
Thanks for your help.

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breadtopia July 30, 2008 at 9:20 am

Hi Mike,

I’m curious as to what happened with this loaf. Were you able to extract it without totally demolishing it?

I suppose you could try spraying it next time but I recall someone saying they sprinkled a good layer of flour on the dough just before flipping it into their Dutch oven and this worked well. Specifically, they used rice flour. Rice flour is great, but anything would be better than nothing.

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breadtopia July 30, 2008 at 9:07 am

Hi Marilyn,

I think the main idea behind the 18 hour rise is allowing more flavor development as you suggested. It might also be related to the dough needing more time to rise since the basic recipe calls for only 1/4 tsp of yeast (or 1/4 cup of starter in the dough dough version).

During these warm summer months, I’ve had much better results with cutting the 18 hours down to about 12 since the yeast (or sourdough) grows so much faster. And I haven’t noticed any big difference in flavor either.

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Mike July 29, 2008 at 7:21 pm

I made the sourdough starter and made my bread as per instruction, I used a dutch oven. The bread looks great, but it stuck like glue to the bottom of the enamel dutch oven. I’d never used a dutch oven to bake bread before, should I have sprayed it first? I didn’t see that step in the video, so I thought it wasn’t necessary. Any hints as to get it out without destroying my beautiful looking loaf?

Regards

Mike

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Marilyn B. July 29, 2008 at 11:41 am

Eric, In the old days when I made regular bread I was done in 6 hours, start to finish. So I’m still a little confused (and this may be a no-brainer to the more experienced bakers in this group), but what is the purpose of all these 18-hour or longer delays? Is it just to develop better sourdough flavor, bigger holes, or thicker crust, or is it what actually makes the breads “no-knead”?
Thanks. Marilyn B.

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Fred July 24, 2008 at 11:05 am

When I was a kid the only bread that we ate was Jewish rye from a local bakery. (Wonder Bread was [and still is] good for picking up small pieces of broken glass.) When I found your website yesterday I decided to make a sourdough starter using rye flour because I want to recapture the flavor that I remember. I used some locally grown organic rye flour and bottled organic pineapple juice. It was bubbling within 12 hours! I am excited and will keep you posted.

My only question is how often to feed the starter once it has developed. I am sure that the answer is somewhere on the site and I’m not ready to do a search.

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Russ July 23, 2008 at 1:55 pm

The Pizza stone is a good base, you will also need something to cover the bread during the first part of the bake. A nice heavy oven safe pot would be best, a large (oven safe, of course) mixing bowl should also do the trick. Preheat it right along with the oven and stone. From there, just follow the recipe, pretending your stone/pot combo are a Cloche or Dutch oven and you should be fine. I haven’t tried this, but I’ve heard reports that it works and it makes sense to me.

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Free July 22, 2008 at 10:38 am

Eric..

If i don’t have a Le Croche or Dutch Oven can I bake the bread on a pizza stone with the same success??

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LaVidaMD July 14, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Thank you for the wonderful recipe. I tried it over the 4th of July weekend and it turned out great.

I mentioned your web site and posted a few pictures at http://lavidamd.livejournal.com/56767.html

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sandy July 11, 2008 at 5:56 am

Tom, thanks for your comments. It is not the alcohol content that is my concern. My concern is, I don’t have beer in my house anymore, those days are pretty much over for me now. However, I always have white vinegar (I wash my tile with it), I always have lemon juice in my frige. I usually have sour cream in my frige. I just thought perhaps there was another ingredient that would take the place of the beer, that ingredient being something I would almost always have on hand. If not, I’ll just go buy a six pack of beer. Thanks also for reminding me where that recipe was.

Sandy in Fl

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Tom Maynard July 10, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Sandy,

The Cook’s Illustrated website says that non-alcoholic beer will work fine in their recipe. If you want the best, go with St. Pauli Girl NA. If you want the cheapest, try Miller’s “Sharps” NA. Either will deliver an excellent bread. My brother bakes with Guinness (specifically called out as inadvisable by CI — an ale, not a lager), and his bread turns out just fine.

But, be advised that nearly all of the alcohol in any beer will bake out at the temperatures involved in baking. Even regular yeasted breads will contain some alcohol since it’s one of the products of fermentation (sugar + yeast = CO2 + alcohol + others).

But follow your own drummer, and enjoy the result!

Tom.

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breadtopia July 10, 2008 at 7:51 pm

Hi Sandy,

You’re thinking of the Cook’s Illustrated no knead bread that uses beer and vinegar to simulate the flavor of sourdough. Not sure what would make a comparable substitute for beer. How about non-alcoholic beer?

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sandy July 10, 2008 at 3:03 pm

somewhere on this wonderful site that you have here, I saw a couple of recipes for sourdough bread using white vinegar and beer. Fist, I cannot find where I saw those recipes. And second. Is there something I can use instead of beer? Can I increase the white vinegar amount or should I use something else? Sandy in Fl

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LaVidaMD July 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for the great recipe and video!

I baked a loaf of bread and posted a few photos of it at http://lavidamd.livejournal.com/56767.html

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breadtopia July 6, 2008 at 5:30 am

I don’t think shaping is any big deal with this recipe. I could take it or leave it. I don’t slash the no knead dough because I don’t want to deflate it any more than it deflates when I shape it. For no knead bread I just like to see how and where it splits on its own. I like the surprise and it usually turns out nicely anyway.

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MIke July 3, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Hey!

Love your videos! I was wondering what the your thoughts were on why you “shape” the dough after folding? My first expierence with this method suggested that folding, resting and then inverting (as is), so the smooth side was up was enough. They felt like the slightly open folds took the place of slashing the dough. Have you experimented with slashing or not shaping the dough so much?

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Tom Maynard June 26, 2008 at 7:35 am

A quick follow-up to my previous post: there are a number of Hertzberg/Francois “guest appearance” videos on YouTube. This is probably the best (at least it’s the longest):

http://youtube.com/watch?v=_L8zsDurc_I

Their complete recipe is here:

http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=195

And a modified recipe using considerably less yeast is here:

http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=85

Where you would simply substitute 1/2 cup of starter for the 1/2 teaspoon of yeast, following Eric’s recommended substitution, but I’m sure practically any amount would do the job.

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Tom Maynard June 26, 2008 at 6:54 am

The authors of “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day”, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, recommend mixing a large batch of (yeasted) dough, and holding it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks … taking out what is needed for baking on the fly.

And, they say, the bread improves in flavor the longer it stays in the fridge. I can’t imagine why this wouldn’t be equally true for a naturally leavened dough … although it might become quite sour. I have yet to try it myself.

http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/

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breadtopia June 26, 2008 at 4:44 am

I was hoping Rhine would see this and know the answer. I’ve never gone that long in the fridge. There is going to be some limit on how long you can go and 4 days seems like it might be a bit excessive.

Of course I’m hoping you will try it and let us know how it turns out. Nothing like learning from others adventures in baking. ;)

I would do the final “pat and fold” while it’s still cold and then let it do its final rise before baking.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Maria June 25, 2008 at 7:40 am

Hello Eric!

I purchased your sourdough starter and made my first loaf in a La Cloche last weekend. It turned out great, but a little flat. But then my dough was really wet, so I’ll add more flour next time. I had a question about the Rhine Meyering post where he mentioned that he refrigerated his dough for 2 days to get a more sour taste; I have a batch of sourdough in the refrigerator, but due to a change of work schedule its going to have to be in the fridge for four days. Will it still work? And do I need to bring the dough up to room temperature before I pat it out and fold it? I checked it this morning and it still looks happy. My husband will tell you that I’m a bread baking nut; sometimes I pay more attention to my dough than I do to him! Hee Hee!

Have a great day, and thanks for all the great tips!

Maria

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Tom Maynard June 13, 2008 at 2:52 pm

I’ve decided to quit experimenting (baking starter, cold-oven baking, etc.) and just return to what’s been working for millenia: flour, water, sourdough starter, and salt. I made a loaf today using your reconstituted dried starter (about 2-1/2 weeks old). It’s just your basic NKSB recipe, and it came out very nicely (pics under separate cover).

I’ve also made a loaf or two with my pineapple juice starter that also turned out very well. So now I’ve got two starters: yours and mine. I’ll have to do a “bake off” to see if there’s any real difference between Ohio and Illinois fungi/bacteria.

My baking vessel at the moment is a 6.5 qt Chantal enameld steel Dutch oven, but I’m eyeing a 5 qt cast iron D.O. for more thermal inertia.

Tom Maynard Sourdough

Here’s my first loaf made with your dried and reconstituted starter. It’s your basic no-knead sourdough, with a minor modification: to get the baking time at a more convenient hour, I refrigerated the rising dough overnight and finished it up this morning. I did the bench proofing on parchment paper in a 12” skillet (mostly to contain the ooze), and dropped paper and all into my rocket-hot Dutch oven. When I pulled it out it measured 206F (on your instant-read thermometer).

I ate both slices seen here and they were mighty nice: crispy, crunchy crust, moist and chewy crumb, with a subtle sour tang (quite mild, actually). Your starter’s got “legs.”

Tom Maynard Sourdough

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breadtopia June 10, 2008 at 8:44 pm

That’s exactly what I thought until I tried it. It was a while ago and I only tried it once, but the result was pretty dismal. I can’t remember what it was about it that was so bad but it definitely needed some help, some different angle.

I wouldn’t call one try a good test, so I’d love to hear from you if you decide to give it a shot.

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Tom Maynard June 10, 2008 at 8:16 pm

Why not bake your starter?

It occurred to me today as I was feeding my (room temp) starter — why not simply bake the starter?

Here’s the scenario: you keep 4 oz of starter in the refrigerator. On the morning before baking day you pull the starter, allow to warm to room temp, pull a 2 oz sample, feed the “mother” (i.e. double) and re-refrigerate.

Now, take your 2 oz sample and double it (yielding 4 oz). Double it again (yielding 8 oz). Double it again (yielding 16 oz). These doublings could be 2X/day or 1X/day (your choice, with or without refrigeration). As a final feeding you could add 4 oz flour/water (yielding 16.5 oz) and let rise (while the oven preheats) and then bake your “starter” (after foldiing/manipulating as you desire).

How is a “fed starter” any different from “risen dough?” Not at all, is what I think … and the additional time for development adds to its “character” (i.e. flavor).

I’d appreciate your comments.

Tom.

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Essie May 28, 2008 at 9:17 pm

The dry starter worked beautifully and my first loaf of sourdough no knead bread is really fantastic.
Eric, a huge thanks from my entire family.

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Bina May 20, 2008 at 11:27 pm

Hi Eric,

Things have been going so well with my spelt sourdough no-knead bread that I’ve decided to branch out with other grains. My next experiment will be with kamut which is apparently an ancient Egyptian wheat. If any of your readers have ever tried making bread or doing any other type of baking with kamut, I’d appreciate some feedback on what to expect. I will keep you posted.

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breadtopia May 20, 2008 at 10:38 am

Hi Coco,

It sounds like you could start baking with that starter now. Especially since it’s been two more days since you asked :-).

As for transferring the dough, I think many people find that letting the final proof take place right on the parchment paper (a parchment lined bowl, for example) works well. Then you can just move the paper and dough together into your Dutch oven or cloche without disturbing it too much. Bake the paper and all. Is that what you’re asking?

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coco May 18, 2008 at 1:57 pm

h eric- things are well on the baking front but i got brave and decided to start my own starter from whole wheat since the starter i have been using is a potato starter and i felt like it was kinda sweet; the friend i got it from would feed it sugar or honey and potato flakes, and i wanted plain ol’ starter… so it looks good so far. i am feeding it every day; it’s been about a week and it is very active, smells yeasty and produces nice, frothy bubbles- i was wondering how long i need to wait before i can bake with it…i want more traditional sourdough instead of what have been baking, although it tastes wonderful…also how do you transfer the dough to the parchment without “popping” it?
thanks! coco

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breadtopia May 3, 2008 at 11:51 am

I’ll send you some dried starter. Maybe the second time will be a charm.

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