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.

{ 1405 comments… read them below or add one }

Bread Doofus November 7, 2008 at 10:46 am

Well, it finally rose to 2-1/2 cups before I went to bed around 10. Threw a 1/2 cup of flour in it and put it in the fridge. I just don’t understand why I can’t get a decent rise. :( On the positive side, it did have the nice foamy bubbles on top, which I’ve never had before.

Well, at least I know it’s still alive and working. It’ll get there eventually, I guess. Hopefully you all won’t get sick of listening to me whine before it does.

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Bread Doofus November 6, 2008 at 8:04 pm

Ok, it’s been 5 hours now….I started with 2 cups and it has increased to almost 2-1/2 cups. That’s not much of a rise, is it? Or will it take longer to get double? If so, how long? *sigh*

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Lee Ann November 6, 2008 at 4:14 pm

Hey now wait a minute BD, you mean you *don’t* live in a swamp and have a pet gator??? I do!! Juuuust kidding, hehe.

BTW, I made some of that Parmesan Olive and Cranberry Pecan Sourdough No Knead, those two recipes rock!

Kind regards,

Lee Ann

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Bread Doofus November 6, 2008 at 2:55 pm

LOL….what’s funny is that everyone who’s never been to LA usually really does assume that it’s all swampland, and we all have pet gators in the back yard. :)

You know what, Bob, my reserved starter is starting to look pretty darn good! All bubbly throughout and sour smelling! I’ve taken out 1 cup into a separate bowl, added a cup of flour and 2/3 cup water, and I’m gonna sit back and watch to see what it does! I just stirred a 1/2 cup flour and a little water into what was left and put it back into the refrigerator….I’ve been keeping it pretty thick and doughy, as Eric suggested, and I think that’s why it hasn’t turned to acetone….guess it’s more “stable”, as Eric puts it.

If this “test” bowl at least doubles, I’m going to give it a whirl in a NKB recipe. I’m so excited!

I’ve been getting a little rise out of my 1,2.3 tablespoon batch, but nowhere near double, so if my reserved starter “test” does well, I’m just going to give up on the 1,2,3 and put it in the bowl I’m saving for pancake dough.

I’ll let you all know tomorrow what happens with all my experiments!

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Bob Packer November 6, 2008 at 1:46 pm

Bread Doofus,

I finally, from your post, figured out the problem with your starter. You are using Louisania swamp water for your liquid! It all that gater and turtle and snake stuff in it that is killing the good critters!

Bob

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Sue James November 5, 2008 at 1:58 pm

Does anyone have experience using non gluten flours-rice, sorghum, etc as celiacs can’t tolerate wheat, spelt ,rye, kamut etc and these no-knead recipes would be perfect if it could be adapted using xanthum gum, citric acid .

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Mark November 3, 2008 at 11:51 am

I just purchased the La Cloche rectangular clay baker and hoped to get a thinner and shinier crust, like what is sold out here in the San Franciisco area. Unfortunatley, I got the same thicker crust as before using the clay baker. One difference is I used 100% bread flour this time vs. your mixture. I also use towels vs the proofing basket. I do like the thicker, duller crust, though I am the only one in the family who does.

Any Suggestions?

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Lee Ann October 26, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Aw, Doofus, sorry to hear you are having so much trouble! Keep on trying, one day you will succeed! : )

I’m going to try a couple more loaves tonight, will report back tomorrow!

Sweet dreams “Breadtopians,”

Lee Ann

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Bread Doofus October 26, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Lee Ann: LOL….I can tell from that last question that you’re from that other country….south Louisiana! :) I”m in Central Louisiana.

I’ll be going to Wal-Mart in the next few days to get some more unbleached flour and hopefully some instant yeast, so I can try to make some o’ dat (to put it in your language, lol) NKB bread, even if my silly sourdough starter (which seems to have the “studs”) won’t work.

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Lee Ann October 25, 2008 at 8:30 pm

Aw, thanks for visiting my site Eric! : )

I love visiting your site too, in fact I think I may be spending too much time watching videos and dough rising, even sneaking in and peeking in the fridge at night to see what my starter is up to … you never know, huh? I think this bread making can get addictive! : )

Hey BD, where y’at in Louisiana, cher!? : )

Lee Ann

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Breadtopia October 25, 2008 at 7:42 pm

Thanks Lee Ann. I posted your picture above too but enjoyed visiting your website and seeing your awesome jewelry. Great work!

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Lee Ann October 25, 2008 at 10:58 am

Done! : )

You can also see it on my website at http://www.lady-of-the-lake.com/FirstBread.jpg

I plan to make more soon.. wow that olive bread recipe made me drool! : )

Lee Ann

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Breadtopia October 25, 2008 at 10:43 am

I was thinking the same thing! :)

Click here to email

Operators are standing by.

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Dave the Novice October 25, 2008 at 9:38 am

Lee Ann,

Congratulations!

Why don’t you send Eric some of those pictures, so we can all admire your results?

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Breadtopia October 25, 2008 at 6:23 am

Lee Ann – your comment about taking pictures and calling people totally cracked me up.

I’d always heard about how important it is to wait for bread to cool all the way because it’s actually finishing baking while doing so. But just a couple days ago I read that not waiting long enough may be the cause of a bit of gummyness in the dough. It makes sense. If it’s true, it’s a good thing to know. A lot of people ask about that.

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Bread Doofus October 24, 2008 at 7:43 pm

Hey Lee Ann, I live in Louisiana, too! I’ll keep my eye on the bread, check it at about 12 hours, and watch for any deflation. I hadn’t read any comments like that from Southerners so far, so thanks for the heads up.

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Lee Ann October 24, 2008 at 3:24 pm

It must be beginner’s luck, but my first loaf of no knead sourdough bread came out heavenly. Thanks so much Eric for your wonderful videos and recipes, and the speedy shipping on my supplies!

I used sourdough starter and flour from King Arthur, weighed everything and used Eric’s recipe for ingredients to the letter. After reading all the comments from Southerners (I live in hot and humid Louisiana), I did not proof the full 18 hours- I stopped at 15 hours when I noticed a bubble pop and the dough looked like it was beginning to deflate. (Yes… I was staring at the dough all morning.) Next time I may try proceeding at 12 hours, because there was no difference in the dough between hours 12 and 15.

I used the oblong La Cloche purchased from Eric, but I lowered the oven temperature to 450, and gave it 10 minutes with the top off rather than 15, because it was looking nice and brown. (Forgot to lower the oven temp, so that last 10 minutes was at 450 also.)

I managed to wait a full 20 minutes before I had to eat a piece. (Most of that time was spent taking pictures and calling people, hey I made a loaf of bread, lol.) What a nice loaf to cut!! The crust was lovely and crunchy, the crumb was moist and chewy with nice holes. The bread was delightfully sour, at least as sour as bread I have had in San Francisco, and much more so than local bakery sourdough.

I am cooking dinner for a friend tomorrow and want to serve the bread then- I hope the quality lasts 26 hours. If a paper bag works to maintain the crust, what about storing it in the La Cloche with the lid tilted a bit for ventilation?

Thanks for listening to my bread rave, lol.

Lee Ann

Lee Ann's First Bread

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Bread Doofus October 24, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Thanks for the encouragement, Dave! My starter is looking and smelling good still, and I would give it a try with a loaf this weekend if I didn’t have to help my mom move.

I always put a piece of masking tape over the oven knob when I put dough in it to rise because I know if I didn’t, I would do exactly the same thing you did.

I think I’m going to test my starter again using the method Eric has mentioned somewhere on this site….see if it rises, save wasting another 3 cups of flour! Last time it didn’t, but it may have been because (a) I did it in the evening and didn’t check it until the next morning….it may have risen and then fallen, or (b) I left the oven light on, it was a fairly warm night, and the temperature the next morning in the oven was about 95 degrees or maybe a little more.

You mentioned the wetness of the dough being important….I think that even the supposedly “foolproof” No-Knead method takes at least a little bit of experience in bread making. I have absolutely NONE, and I had NO idea how the dough should look or feel (still don’t!).

Have any of you ever used the flours or cornmeals or rice from Anson Mills? They’re supposed to be superior in taste (according to their web site, anyway!).

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Dave the Novice October 24, 2008 at 10:43 am

Bread Doofus,

Don’t give up, and don’t worry about finding instant yeast. I’ve been making great no-knead for over a year, now, and I always use Red Star Active Dry yeast. That’s what I had on hand when I first tried the recipe, and it has always worked fine. In fact, my original batch was the remnants of a 1-kilo package from Costco, and it had been in the fridge at least 2 years, probably longer. The Rapid-rise stuff may be a problem, but active dry yeast works like a charm. I originally was very careful about temperature, and mixed the yeast with the water before adding it to the flour and salt, but now I just toss it in with the dry ingredients, and it works fine.

As for the time of rising, I have let mine go more than 24 hours for the first rise, at 72-75 degrees, then 3 or 4 hours for the final rise, and it worked fine. I’ve also cut the first rise to 12 hours with no problem, although we thought the resulting loaf didn’t have quite as much flavor.

I think baddboyi had the right idea: you need to get the wetness of the dough right. It should be a little too wet and sticky to knead, but no wetter than that. Once you have a success, and you will succeed, you’ll know what the dough should look and feel like.

As for the sourdough version, I’m just a tiny bit ahead of you: I finally got my starter far enough along to make a successful loaf. I had several failed loaves before that, and even had to discard my starter and begin again, when I forgot I had put it in the oven to work overnight, and turned the oven on to preheat it for a roast. I was the bread doofus that night.

But I have faith–we WILL make great sourdough bread.

Dave

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Breadtopia October 24, 2008 at 9:33 am

Hi Dave,

Love your enthusiasm. There’s nothing live diving in head first to get the feel for all this.

While you’re getting up to speed on everything, here’s my 2 cents on a few of your questions. I’m no expert but maybe this will help shed a little light…

It’s possible your starter may change flavor over time, but I don’t know of any research indicating that is any more likely to happen than not. The flavor comes from the varieties of bacteria in it. If the makeup changes I suppose the flavor could too, but whether that’s better or not is subjective. In my experience, any significant changes come in the first days and weeks of starting a starter then things stay pretty constant after that.

You can feed it whatever you want. I don’t thing there are any “shoulds”. Some people like rye starters, some like whole wheat. Depends on what the recipe calls for too.

I usually take my starter straight from the fridge before use, but if I hadn’t baked for more than a week or so I might take it out and feed it a few hours before use.

You can definitely over proof dough, and that’s the risk you run by letting it go over 18 hours (or whatever a recipe calls for). Refrigeration slows the fermentation so you can prolong the proof.

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Bread Doofus October 23, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Thank you for the advice, baddboyi! I’m still waiting to get some instant yeast before I try it again, and I’m still feeding my starter. It has bubbles in it when I take it out of the refrigerator and has a slight sour smell, and bubbles a little after being fed, but no “froth”. I don’t think I’ve ever had any real “froth”. Well, at least it hasn’t turned to fingernail polish remover like my last batch did. I was so disappointed! When I researched it, I found some people saying you could redeem it, and others said it would straighten up for a while but always end up reverting back to the acetone. I found the latter to be true, so I heaved it and started over.

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Dave the Novice October 22, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Great video, and great site, too. I wish I had found this when I first stumbled onto the no-knead method.

The first time I tried the technique, it worked great, even though I used the standard active dry yeast I had on hand, instead of the instant variety some of the websites I found insisted was necessary. We were blown away by the great crust, chewy texture, and those big holes just like the best breads we had experienced in some of our favorite restaurants. I refined my technique over time, until it was ridiculously easy: mixing, proofing, folding and resting the dough directly in the bowl; turning it onto a Reynolds release foil piece in a larger bowl for the final rise, and then transferring it directly to my pre-heated cast iron Dutch oven by lifting the corners of the foil and lowering the whole thing into the Dutch oven. Parchment worked fine, too, but the foil can be reused many times.

I decided to tackle a sourdough version after hearing my father rave about the bread his mother would sometimes make from a starter she made herself. It took me a couple of weeks and a failure or two to get a starter that was active enough. Once I had that, I followed directions in an old sourdough cookbook, and first made a traditional white loaf in the bread machine, then tried the starter with the no-knead recipe. My book said to always make a “sponge” by adding 1 ½ cups of flour and water to my starter, and letting it rise overnight, then reserving a cup of the sponge for my starter, and using the rest in my recipe. That meant I was starting with a cup and a half of very wet, foamy starter , and about 2 cups of fresh flour. It took only a couple of tablespoons of additional water to make the dough the consistency I am accustomed to for the NKB. The resulting dough rose very fast. Instead of taking 12 hours to fill the bowl, it took only about four or five. Because I had found that longer first rising made a better-tasting loaf, (I’ve been using 24 or more hours for the first rise with ¼ tsp yeast,) I waited the full 18 hours before proceeding, even though it was overflowing the bowl. I decided I’d better work some more flour into it, fearing the yeast would have nothing left to feed on in the final rise, so I went back to the original method of flouring and folding the dough before resting and the final rise.

The bread was great, although not noticeably tastier than with commercial yeast (except for the slight sour tang.) Now I find your version, which skips that sponge-making step altogether, and uses a scant ¼ cup of starter. Makes sense, as the 1 ½ cups I was using caused a much too rapid rise. I am left with several questions:

1. Will my starter gain more flavor as I use it over time?
2. Should I feed it with whole wheat or other flours, instead of, or in addition to, plain flour?
3. If I start with just a little starter, should I feed it and let it work for awhile before making the dough, or just proceed straight from the fridge?
4. What was the purpose of that sponge-making step in my book? Do you dispense with that for all your sourdough breads?
5. If I want to let the first rise proceed longer than 18 hours, do I really need to refrigerate the dough?

Sorry this is so long. I’m having a ball experimenting and learning about bread, and it’s hard to keep my comments short.

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baddboyi October 19, 2008 at 11:50 pm

bread doofis……

nothing succeeds like success, pay close attention and you will succeed. firstly, don’t throw away your starter, keep it fed and refrigerated, but for the time being don’t use it. watch the bittman interview with mr. leahy. watch it many times paying close attention to the consistancy of the dough, forget about differnt types of yeast, forget about your water, forget about your flour. yes, some yeast, some flours, some waters are indeed better, but that’s not your problem. start with the yeast based recipe, pay strict attention to your dough, it should be quite sticky, but almost almost kneadable . the term is hydration, or “wetness” of the dough, many people, myself included, have(had) problems switching over to the no knead method. from your description, it sounds like your dough was much too wet, not because you measured/weighed wrong, it just happens. just understand, once the dough is mixed and risen, and is too wet, it too late to add enough flour to correct the problem. it’s during the actual mix, that you must see to proper consistancy of the dough.
once you succeed with yeast based recipe, a few times, then graduate to the sourdough recipe. i only mention the bittman video beacause i think it’s more basic, the material here on this site is awesome, and can take your bread baking efforts a long, long way further, but start with the simple bittman video, watching the dough consistancy especially during the folding “part”, i’ll bet your dough was much much too wet. peace………

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Bread Doofus October 17, 2008 at 7:49 am

Thanks for trying to help, Russ. :) I did bake it early, but it seemed to have already deflated a little by the time I got up around 6. I baked it anyway, but it was awful….it rose a bit, but was gummy inside, hard outside, and stuck to the dish (Pyrex)….I don’t know if I’m EVER going to get that mess out of my dish! It didn’t taste good, either. I really, really want to use my sourdough starter to give it a better taste.

Well, I think I’ll just slink off now and post no more until I have a success. I’ll try to find instant yeast next time I’m at Wal-Mart (local store doesn’t have it), or order some from Eric, and try again, or maybe I’ll have my sourdough starter in better shape before too long. The truth is, I hate to cook and am not a good cook, but I’ve always loved bread (especially sourdough) and wanted to learn how to bake it. So I’m not going to give up, and sooner or later maybe I’ll be able to change my name to “Bread Doofus No Longer” or something like that.

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Russ October 16, 2008 at 8:30 pm

Hey BD,

I can’t claim to have faced exactly what you’ve got happening there, but I’d say you should either bake it early (couldn’t tell you just when, but when you think it’s ready) or refrigerate the dough to slow the rise. I would think you’ll get better results from either of those than you would if the dough over-rises.

Good luck!

Russ

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Bread Doofus October 16, 2008 at 6:46 pm

Uh oh, I think I’ve found a problem….in reading on the regular no-knead page, I saw that I shouldn’t be using the Rapid-Rise yeast from Fleishmann’s. *sigh* No wonder such great rising after only 3 hours. Guess it will either be deflated in the morning or it won’t rise again when I put it into the proofing pot.

*sigh*

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Bread Doofus October 16, 2008 at 6:34 pm

Broke down, went to the store, and got some yeast. Mixed up some more dough, and it’s rising beautifully, after only 3 hours. Think maybe I shouldn’t let it go the whole 18 hours? It’s probably about 79 degrees in here, but getting cooler (rained today, yay!)

I know I probably won’t get any replies until after I’m done, but I just wanted to share my success (so far) with someone, I guess. :) I’ll report back when it’s over!

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Bread Doofus October 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

My first attempt at sourdough no-knead….a flop. *sniff*

It didn’t rise at all (my starter must not have been ready, I’ll give it some more time and feedings) and it was SO gooey that I couldn’t do anything with it. I added some flour, but it didn’t help….there was NO way I could have “folded” it like Eric does on the videos. But he always says, “go ahead and bake it anyway”, so I did. It was like a flat pone of cornbread, and very gummy inside. Didn’t even taste good! I may have to try it with the commercial yeast, although for some reason I wanted to use sourdough. Well, back to the old drawing board (after a good cry, that is).

I remain….Bread Doofus LOL

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Breadtopia October 12, 2008 at 2:51 pm

Hi Ginny,

What you’re referring to is called the “old dough” method (or something like that). The thing is, once you mix the sourdough in with all the other ingredients, including the salt, you don’t necessarily want to use a piece of that dough for the next batch because it’s slightly less pure than its source.

So what you can do (and what’s done here) is just leave enough stater for the next baking. You can replenish your starter as necessary just by feeding it with flour and water in its own container.

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Breadtopia October 12, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Hi Jay,

It is curious how following the recipe can produce varying dough consistencies for different people, but it’s amazingly common. I’m glad you were able to pick up on the hydration thing. Now you’re an expert!

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Ginny October 12, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Hi, I’ve always heard that you are suposed to return a portion of the dough back to the starter. Is this so? If yes, when should I return?
Thanks, Ginny

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jay October 11, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Hi Eric……
This is an update on my help help help email of some weeks past, regarding my first sourdough failure=almost no rise. Since then i’ve made a few sourdough loafs. Each one turning out better –rising higher than the next. Turns out, the answer wasn’t with my ingredients or my measurements, or my water, or the starter i purchased from you. the problem was one of hydration, the dough was to wet. How this was possible, eludes me because i weighed everything exactly. I guess this does demonstrate the fact that making bread is an art!
i kept watching your sourdough videos over and over, and finally noticed the fact you were able to knead the dough a handful of times. during my first utter failure (1 1’2 inch high pancake), i would have never been able to accomplish this, the dough was too wet. once again, thanks for all the fine, useful, helpful information Breadtopia provides!

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Chip September 26, 2008 at 11:10 am

Hi,
I ordered your live sourdough starter (from the Baking Supplies section), it’s great. I’ve been using a 40 year old starter from my local baker for the last 6 months or so. It was great bread, but not at all sour.

The first loaf I made with your starter is just what I was looking for, the characteristic sour flavor (and serious aroma during baking).

thank you!

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Breadtopia September 26, 2008 at 5:02 am

Hi Dave,

Is it possible you forgot the salt? I’ve done that before and you end up with an amazingly bland bread. Even so, when baking with sourdough results can be all over the map.

9-27-08 Update: Turns out Dave did forget the salt. See his follow up post here: http://www.breadtopia.com/cooks-illustrated-almost-no-knead/#comment-31099

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JeffB. September 25, 2008 at 11:22 pm

Just recently found your site after hearing about no-knead from my father-in-law. A lot of great information, Thanks. I’ve already got a La Cloche oblong on my Christmas list!

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Dave September 25, 2008 at 8:23 am

I apologize, my above comments should have been made in the Cooks Illustrated “Almost no knead” section. I am curious for the reason there is a small amount of kneading as apposed to the no knead method. Thanks for the site Eric, it is a wealth of information.

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Dave September 25, 2008 at 6:38 am

I found your no knead bread video on utube and found it fascinating. That led me to watch the NYT article and others. For my first attempt the dough came out very wet and I was unable to do the fold. I was not real careful with my measurements and just tried to get the consistency right (looking like the video). I let it sit there (rise) for a couple of hours and plopped it into a hot baking (Pyrex) bowl. The loaf did not rise real well, but tasted fantastic. The texture and crust was better than anything I had ever baked. I was real excited to try the sour dough recipe. I was very careful with the recipe and the dough came out great. It proofed for 19 hours, I kneaded it 10 times and let it rise for 2 hours. It looked fantastic in the baking dish and I was excited to cut into it. The taste was nonexistent. I’m really baffled by this. There was no sourdough flavor and although the texture was OK, the bread did not create the “gotta have another piece of that” buzz that the first loaf did. I am going to try this recipe again, but without the small amount of kneading.

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Breadtopia September 21, 2008 at 8:02 pm

That’s wonderful, Mireille. And thanks for the help, Bill

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Mireille September 21, 2008 at 4:56 pm

oh! I should add that it was Kosher Salt so maybe that is why it did not ruin the bread… we thought it came out better than the first batch.

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Mireille September 21, 2008 at 4:55 pm

thanks for the tips and info… I actually made a second loaf today… one funny thing was I added more salt by accident – I was distracted or something and used a tablespoon measurement instead of the teaspoon and it came out awesome. The starter I bought from you seems to really be thriving. I have made 2 loaves and a pizza already… my husband and I cannot stop commenting on how yummy and deliciously sour the bread is. I am totally hooked and now want to try some other breads. I love the fact that the bread I am making is such a nice quality, fresh and I know exactly what is going inside.

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Bill September 21, 2008 at 9:20 am

Mireille –

Just FYI, I make my bread in an old Le Creuset Dutch oven with no oil and no liner and the bread just falls right out when it’s done. I wondered about that, too, when I started, but have never had a loaf stick even a little bit.

My lid has the black plastic(?) handle which Le Creuset says is good to 400*. In deference to them, I do not preheat the lid, but it’s in there at 450* for 30 minutes and I’ve never had a problem.

In regard to the salt, some say (in regard to brining meat, for example) that you should double up on the kosher salt, but I’m pretty sure that’s because it’s flaky and weighs less by volume. Sea salt should be good at one to one. But Eric’s advice rules – just play with it until you get it right. Have fun.

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Breadtopia September 21, 2008 at 8:25 am

Nice going on your bread, Stef. Nice pics, too.

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Breadtopia September 21, 2008 at 8:20 am

Hi Mireille,

Your questions are good. It’s more a case of there often being many ways to answer. My attitude most of the time is “just give it a whirl and see what happens”. Some recipes are more fussy than others about getting things just right. No knead is not one of those.

On the salt, I would just use the same quantity no matter what salt I was using and then adjust on the next loaf if I thought it would help.

I don’t think you have to do anything special with the surface a Le Creuset. Make sure the knob on the lid can tolerate high oven temps though. If you want to be absolutely sure to avoid sticking you could use the parchment paper technique as shown (somewhat) here: http://www.breadtopia.com/2008/09/16/its-bread-baking-season/

People use just about everything to bake no knead bread in. Just experiment with how much dough to use and adjust the next time if necessary.

Rolls are great just by balling up smaller quantities of dough. You can use a cookie sheet but a pizza stone is the best. Watch the timing since they’ll bake faster.

Good luck and don’t worry about blowing it now and then. You’ll get it.

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Stef September 20, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Thanks for this video and recipe! I took a bread-making class last weekend that turned out to be something of a disaster, but I did end up bringing home some starter. Some friends told me about the no-knead method, and googling “no knead sourdough” brought me here. I just made my first loaf. It was really easy to make, and it turned out great—not perfect, but fine for a first attempt. Photos on my blog:
http://firecat.livejournal.com/561494.html

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Mireille September 19, 2008 at 3:55 pm

hi! ok, so I am all set, got your starter going and wow, it is growing like a beast! So much better than my failed attempt at making my own starter. I have a couple of questions though…

1. I typically only use sea salt in cooking and do have some kosher salt – I never ever use table salt with the iodine or whatever in it. My question is, while I used the kosher this time I would prefer to use sea salt – I know you have to adjust for that in recipes but I am not sure how much more sea salt I should use – unless you are using sea salt…

2. I have a Le Creuset cast iron french/dutch oven that I am going to use for now while I try to figure out if I am gonna get hooked on this. Do I need to do anything special to the surface to prepare it? Like oil up the inside?

3. Speaking of Le Creuset … I have a small terrine used to make pate…. would that be a suitable container to try to make a rectangular loaf? How much dough would I put in there?

4. Rolls… um, I would love to make rolls… how can I do this? Just like a cookie sheet and make little balls of dough? I can also use like traditional loaf pans, right?

I am SUCH a noob at baking and while I am really trying to get better I have tried breads a few times with such epic failure that I have not tried to make it again for like 10 years. So sorry if these sound like dumb questions…. :)

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Breadtopia September 16, 2008 at 10:20 am

Hi Marge,

I was going to make a joke about you not making any friends with all the people trying to get more sour in their bread, but Bill beat me to it! :)

Actually, yes, less proofing time should help as well as keeping your starter fresh by feeding it as close to baking time as practical.

Funnily enough, using less starter might have slightly the opposite effect you desire, since using less starter tends to require longer proofing time, giving more time for the sour to develop.

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Bill September 16, 2008 at 9:59 am

I have been complaining (251 and previous) about sourdough starter making the dough go slack, and am glad to announce that (extrapolating from Eric’s excellent suggestion) the shorter rise time fixes the problem. Apparently the acid needs time to develop, but can’t be given enough time to attack the gluten. I used 12 hours last time, and may be able to go shorter. Here’s what I do (YMMV):

Sometime after lunch, take the starter out of the frig , feed it and leave it out;

About 6 hours later, it should be climbing out of the jar. Make up the dough with a generous 1/4 cup of starter, feed the starter again, and put it back in the frig;

12 hours later (maybe less) proceed as usual, except I have found that 10 minutes with the top off is plenty for the crust (takes 20 for me with the commercial yeast).

Marge (253)

Congratulations! Sadly, your question about excessive sourness will probably not find an answer here. You may, however, be deluged with questions about how you got that level of sourness to start with.

Enjoy.

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Marge September 16, 2008 at 6:53 am

I made my first loaf of sourdough bread. It was fantastic. The crust was perfect, and so was the crumb. It was a little more sour than I like. Should I use less starter, or less proofing time?

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Richard September 4, 2008 at 9:34 pm

Well, I took the plunge and baked my first round of sourdough using Eric’s starter and Eric’s recipe for the bread. Other than the dough not rising as much as his did after 18 hours (I hear it’s difficult to do that here in Seattle), everything worked out like the video. I don’t have a proofing basket, so I used a towel and put it in a bowl to give it the right shape for the final proof.

To bake I put the dough on a pizza round and covered it with a crock pot liner. After 45 minutes the loaf was only about 2 1/2 inches high and darker than I’d like. I think I’ll cook it cooler than 500 next time to see if I can get it golden brown not burnt brown.

The loaf was a bit dense as a result of the thickness, but there were good holes and the bread tasted great! Definitely a keeper. All my family thinks so. It was a mild sourdough taste but my starter is only a few weeks old. I’m sure it will get stronger with age. I chroniciled my experience on my blog if you’re interested in the goary details.

I’ve got another blob of dough rising overnight as I type because we ran out of bread. I look forward to experimenting with the process to get the best loaf possible. Like this time I removed the starter from the fridge yesterday and fed it. Today it was really active when I used it. I hope that helps the rising process. It’s fun to experiment.

My mother says the bread will be really good with soup in the fall. I made her a white starter out of my wheat per Eric’s instructions. She had a different starter for a decade til she got tired of it. She was excited to start it again with Eric’s.

Thank you!

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Bill September 2, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Thank you, Pam (239). I’ll have to hit the yard sales for that smaller pot. I did experiment with aluminum foil and found that if you mold it to the inside of the pot and do the second rise in it, you can slide it out while you pre-heat (the foil itself is strong enought to hold the dough) and slide it right back in when you’re ready to bake. This lets you ease the dough in instead of dumping it (although I have never found that dumping affects the rise) and lets the dough conform to the shape of the pot, which it can’t, unless I’m missing something, when you use parchment paper. But there’s something about a loaf baked in aluminum foil that I just don’t like, and I really can’t describe what it is.

But good news! I just baked a conventional loaf (kneaded) with that same starter that has been turning the dough slack on the theory that a shorter rise might get me the flavor without giving the acid time to destroy the gluten. And it worked! Great taste, good rise, and a huge oven spring. Because of time constraints, I had to store the dough in the refrigerator overnight, and then use the proofing feature on my oven for the first rise, but I’m not sure how much that had to do with the outcome. Next up is a short (12-hour) NK rise to see if that works. Wish me luck. Otherwise, it’s back to the chill, the oven proofing, and wearing the same socks, if that’s what it takes.

And I don’t care if it is bad luck to be superstitious.

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