Some of you might have heard of No Knead bread. It’s relatively a new concept in the world of bread making. The idea is to leave a very wet dough to rise over a long period of time which helps develop the gluten strands. This takes the place of kneading. This process gives the bread a wonderful airy center crumb and crisp crust. Also it’s baked in a large pot or dutch oven covered. If you were using commercial yeast you would use maybe a quarter of what is needed to leaven the amount of flour in the recipe. That’s why you can let the dough sit from 12 to 18 hours waiting for it to rise. Making a sourdough no knead bread uses the same idea except the wild yeast from your starter gives the bread an added sourdough tang. That’s something you just can’t get from commercial years. If you do not have your own sourdough starter please reference my previous post Sourdough Bread. There I explain the way you can capture your own wild yeast and make a starter culture that you can use forever in your bread making adventure. Why bother buying yeast when mother nature provides all you can ever want.
No Knead Rustic Sourdough Bread
- 16 ounces of unbleached bread flour or 4 ounces of whole wheat and 12 ounces of unbleached bread flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups warm filtered or spring water
- 1/4 cup sourdough starter
Some starter might be thinner than needed for this recipe. The best way I can figure to have the right starter consistency is to place the 1/4 cup starter in a large mixing bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons of flour and stir till you get the consistency of a dough that will just about hold its own shape. This amount of flour is above the 16 ounces needed for the recipe. Add the warm water to your starter ball and mix to dissolve the starter as much as possible. Add the salt and stir. Add about 8 ounces of the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until you have a sticky mass. Add the rest of the flour and stir till it’s all incorporated. That stirring motion is what also helps develop the gluten strands. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 18 hours. Best temperature is 80-85 degrees F. I found if I turn my oven on for 25 seconds and then shut it off, the temperature inside the oven will reach 85 degrees F. It will stay close to that for the 18 hours. Just make sure you have a kitchen thermometer handy to make sure of the temperature. If you are doubtful, just leave it on your kitchen counter.
Liberally flour your work surface. Scrape out the dough onto your work surface.
Sprinkle more flour over the dough and gently fold the ends onto each other on all four sides, like folding a piece of paper before putting it in an envelope. Do this twice. Allow the dough to rest 15 minutes.
Sprinkle some flour in a greased bowl that will hold the dough with enough room to double in size. Allow the dough to rise 2 hours in the bowl covered.
The best possible place you can bake this bread is in a La Cloche. If you don’t have one, a large dutch oven with a lid or enameled cast iron pot such as Le Creuset works just as well.
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F with the La Cloche, or whatever you are using, in the oven. Pull out the oven shelf halfway and with an oven mitt, remove the cover and place close by. With your thumbs on the bottom of the bowl with the sour dough and your four fingers of each hand lightly holding the top of the dough, flip the bowl over and “dump” the dough onto the La Cloche pan or pot, releasing the dough with your fingers once it’s over the pan. Quickly put back on your oven mitt and cover the pan. Slide the shelf back into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Lower the oven to 450 degrees F and remove the lid and bake another 10-15 minutes until your loaf is golden brown.
Cool the loaf on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing into it. I know, it will be hard, control yourself. If you cut it when the bread is too hot you will ruin the crumb, the inside of the loaf. You can take this time to listen to the loaf “crackle” as it cools. Or, whatever you feel like doing. Just wait the full 30 minutes.