Wednesday, May 16, 2018

No-knead sourdough bread

This is my version of sourdough bread that's easy to make and really only involves a few minutes of active work. The rest of the prep time, you are just relying on natural yeasts and other microorganisms in the bread do all the work. No kneading, no yeast, and no sugars added!

You will need a sourdough starter for this. Find a friend who has one going in their refrigerator already or buy one online or at a gourmet shop. I maintain a 16-ounce mason jar of pure whole wheat starter in the refrigerator. I've also left it totally alone for as long as 8 months and it comes back to life in just a few hours! Amazing! You'll also need a pizza stone for this recipe. If you don't have one, a large cast-iron pan will also work.

~8-12 ounces sourdough starter
2 teaspoons salt
~2-3 cups whole wheat flour, divided
~1 1/8 cups all purpose white or bread flour

First, triple the volume of your sourdough starter by combining your existing starter with whole wheat flour and water until you have tripled the volume (you'll want at least 3 cups of starter). You want to add water and flour to the existing starter trying to achieve the consistency of waffle batter. Mix well with a rubber spatula in a mixing bowl an once incorporated, let stand at room temperature, covered with a damp towel, until the top gets bubbly, like a pancake that's ready to flip. This can take anywhere from 3-24 hours, depending on how old your starter is and the temperature of the room. But in general, a slow activation is nothing to worry about.

Now, split the starter up. Return about 1/3 of the volume to a jar in the refrigerator to maintain the colony (basically the volume you started with). And take your remaining starter and add salt. Stir well with a rubber spatula. Now add 1 cup warm water and 1 1/8 cups each whole wheat and white flour. Incorporate well with the spatula--not your hands or an electric mixer. You want the dough to be about the stickiness of pizza dough. In my climate, I find that I actually need about 1 1/4 cup of each flour, but this will vary based on your flour and humidity.

Once everything is well incorporated, transfer to a large mixing bowl that you've sprayed with cooking spray or brushed with olive oil. Cover with a damp towel and let sit at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size, about 6-18 hours.

After it has doubled in size, transfer dough to refrigerator. Let sit for at least 3 hours (though letting it sit 24-48 hours will enhance the flavor). Regardless of how long you let it sit in the refrigerator, take it out and let it sit at room temperature 4 hours before baking begins.

In your oven, you want a to arrange the racks so that you have one rack in the middle of the oven and one in the bottom of the oven. Put the pizza stone on the middle rack.

Now after the dough has rested at room temperature for 3 hours, preheat the oven with a pizza stone for at 60 minutes at 450F, so pizza stone gets fully up to temperature. Once you're about ready to bake, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Pour this into a large baking dish and put it on the bottom rack.

Now flour the top of the dough and a pizza peel and gently flip the dough onto the peel, trying to preserve the round loaf shape. Next, use the peel to put the dough on the pizza stone, being careful to preserve the shape that it has formed in the bowl. Close oven and reduce temperature to 425F. DON'T USE CONVECTION SETTINGS!

Bake until the outside gets golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes. BE CAREFUL when you open the oven--the steam can cause burns when it rushes out.

Let cool on a baking rack after rmoving from the oven for a few minutes before cutting.


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