Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New York Times No-Knead Sourdough

Thanks to Andrew of Spittoon Extra for hosting "Waiter, There's Something in My...Bread" and spurring me on to finally work this recipe out. Any of you who follow the foodie world even a little will remember Jim Lahey's New York Times No-Knead Bread recipe that was published a couple months ago. It's the simplest thing in the world; the secret to great bread, it turns out is not work but time. It's one of those culinary miracles.

Thing is, it calls for store-bought dry yeast. For most of you out there, that's a boon, it means you don't have to go through the trouble of having a sourdough starter in order to make great bread. For me though, my bread starter and I go way back, I couldn't abandon it. So, I set out to apply some of the No-Knead Bread Recipe genius to the sourdough process I learned from Nancy Silverton.

Here's what I found out:
1. You really DON'T have to knead your very wet and sticky dough! I was a skeptic but it's true.

2. No shaping the dough by stretching it into a tight ball since the sides of the Dutch oven hold its boule shape perfectly.

3. Baking your risen dough inside a Dutch oven within your regular oven is the #1 way to get a great crust without schpritzing the oven with water in the 1st 5 minutes of cooking.

4. No need to score the risen dough before baking; it opens itself up in the (double) oven.

5. The New York Times suggestion that the bread should rise at 70F for 12-18 hours is unworkable for my sourdough. I've spent lo these many months fighting the stickiness factor caused by the heat and have eaten way too many sad-looking New York Times No-Knead Flatbreads as a result. I'm with Nancy Silverton on this one: Rise, then refrigerate!

Here's my adaptation to the New York Times No-Knead Bread recipe for sourdough

2 1/2 cups sourdough starter
3 cups high-gluten flour
2 tablespoons salt

Mix ingredients together just until you have a smooth, lump-free dough. Place in a floured proofing basket. Place that into a puffed plastic bag. Close the bag making sure it's full of enough air that the rising dough won't stick to the plastic. Let rest at room temperature until doubled in bulk (about 5 hours) place in the fridge overnight (12 hours). Pre-heat oven WITH DUTCH OVEN INSIDE for at least 45 minutes at the highest heat possible (my oven does 500F). Music to bake sourdough by: While Light, White Heat by the hottest band nobody'd ever heard of while they were still together, The Velvet Underground!! Take Dutch oven out of the oven carefully, remove lid and place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom (best to have measured this first) Pour out the dough and quickly close the lid and return everything to the oven. Bake at highest temp for 30 minutes then remove lid. The bred should be puffed and cracked at the top. Reduce heat to 400F. Another 15-30 minutes more and the bread is ready to take out of the oven and place on a cooling rack.

On top of the above revelations, the crumb is extremely elastic and I get much bigger holes (see image) than I used to with the regular method.


Blogger June said...

Hi Susan
Is there, do you think, any really good reason for not baking the bread as soon as it has risen? I think this recipe has two parts - firstly the small amount of yeast, as per the original, which means the yeast does the work of the kneading if you leave it long enough which you have to do because there is so little of it. Phew. Then Part II which is the oven within an oven steamy thing. If the dough is satisfactorily risen I don't see why it can't be baked without more ado. What do you think? My recent sourdough loaves have been chunky seedy affairs and I haven't wanted big holes in them so I haven't tried this myself yet.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Baking Soda said...

Hi Susan,
Got here via Waiter theres... Finally a NYT loaf that has risen beyond and above a gummy inside! I am not sure what does the trick; your sourdough starter or the prolonged/delayed rise in the refrigerator. As much as I loved the technique of the NYT, the crumb didn't do it for me. I'll try your method, first the starter without refrigerating and see what that does.
Great looking bread!

9:17 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi June, I'm at first skeptical that the bread would be as flavorful without the long wait, but I was skeptical that you didn't have to knead it in order to get an elastic crumb. Maybe we should have a side-by-side taste test. What do you think?

Hi Baking Soda, It took me forever to figure out that the very wet dough described in the NYT wasn't as wet as they described. I baked a lot of gummy bread too.

7:35 PM  
Anonymous ann said...

what a lovely loaf! I need to go back to that method again one of these weekends, it produces such a wonderful bread, but the boyfriend just bought me The Bread Bible, so I have to try some of Rose's recipes for a time. I have one going now, I hope it turns out!
Thanks for sharing your tips!

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

I have just finished the Baker's Apprentice book, which I read cover to cover and am now a complete devotee of bread starters. My first attempt at baking using my home grown starter resulted in a burned bread because I felt too confident and decided not to use my Dutch Oven for baking. Real mistake! I'm about to try my starter on the second loaf of bread and would love to try your recipe. But I have a question: do you dump the bread right out of the fridge into the pre-heated Dutch Oven or do you pull it out of the fridge, shape it, and then dump it?



8:25 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Ann, I haven't gotten into the Bread Bible. Can you let me know if it's worth it?

Hi Ozzie, Hey, let me know how your bread goes! I take my risen bread out of the fridge, take the balooned plastic bag off and let the top form a light "crust", that is I wait until it has dried enough to stop being tacky/sticky to the touch. This helps me from flattening the bread as I pour it into the Dutch oven. And it pretty much takes the 1 hour that the oven needs to get hot enough. Good luck with the technique!

4:17 PM  
Blogger Tracie B. said...

you are the bread whisperer, aren't ya!

i've been making my pizza dough with whole wheat flour and i'm finding that it is not the same. any general rules/tips for working with whole wheat flour?

email me!

8:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Susan,

Thanks for the instructions. I finally made my first loaf with the wild yeast that I have been cultivating for the past 3 weeks. It came out great! A true San Francisco sourdough without the excessive sour taste that you find in most commercially made bread in our city (I live in San Francisco). My last loaf, which got burned in the oven, had been spiked with the commercial yeast but this one was made with my own pure sourdough starter.

Thanks for the "post-fridge" instructions. That explains why your bread comes out with bigger holes than mine. If you omit the shaping step after the bread has risen, you will not de-gass it further. Now my challenge is how to dump the bread into my Dutch Oven without wrestling with the bowl that the dough is in! I saw your basket picture and looks like the benetton is well floured but is that enough to prevent it from sticking to the basket?

I greatly appreciate it if you could share your secret of the "non-stick" dough.



12:13 AM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Tracie, You know I haven't worked with whole wheat flour for a while and I know that it can be pretty different (i.e. more difficult to make it good) from white. I'll look it up in the Nancy Silverton book and let you kow if I come across any tactics.

Hi Ozzie, I'm glad your bread turned out better. Certainly the cooler the dough the less stickiness you get (which is why the NY Times instructions didn't all work for me) but I also kind of separate the edges of the dough (all around the perimeter) gently with my fingers before I dump it. That helps. Also the longer you keep your starter, feeding regularly, the stronger (not sour but healthy) it will be and I think that contributes to good holes.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

certainly a contriversal bread but thanks for brining it to Waiter

4:23 PM  
Blogger thepassionatecook said...

wow... this looks amazing! i have never tried anything with sourdough, so much read up on your earlier posts. but it DOES look good enough to try out. mmhh! can almost smeel it already!

3:08 PM  
Blogger Everett Volk said...

This is an old post, I know, but I have a question. What ratio of flour weight and water weight do you feed your starter with? I maintain a 100% hydration starter, and have attempted to modify the NYT recipe for my starter using their hydration ratio (roughly 93%). It invariably turns out waaaaay too sticky. I calculated your recipe assuming a 100% hydration starter and it comes out more like 50%. I'm wondering if you actually have a much stiffer dough than the NYT or if your starter is wetter than mine.


5:39 AM  
Blogger TK said...

I have a similar question to Everett, is your starter really wet? because I don't see any liquid being added to get a sticky dough! Can you tell us the approximate ratio of flour to water you have in your starter?

9:57 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Hi there, great to have a new take on SD NKB. Just a query, 2 tablespoons of salt sounds an awful lot for the quantities of flour and starter - please could you confirm this is correct.

11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious about the amount of salt also. Must be a typo and should be [maybe] 2 TEASPOONS. Most recipes call for about 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great info..having read Ed Woods older book on Sourdough, I have tried mixing some Durham wheat into the bread flour 1/3 and gotten some very good results, a crumb with more elasticity, also has anyone tried leaving the bread in the refrig for longer then 12 hrs? Glenn.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

Were you able to resolve this question? My starter is 100% and I had to add extra water just to work in the flour. There's no way I could pour this mixture. This recipe is such a good idea, but some clarification would be helpful. Thank you.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

Sorry, this is a bit unclear. I was referring to an earlier post regarding the sourdough starter hydration. My dough was way drier than I thought it would be and I wondered if additional water was omitted from the recipe in error. Thanks.

7:38 PM  

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