Traditional No-Knead Sourdough Bread
There’s nothing like the taste of freshly baked bread topped with golden butter. I love this bread’s airy texture, crisp crust, and tangy flavor. The probiotic benefits of a fermented food like sourdough is good for the gut and the mind.
The procedure and materials detailed here produce a basic bread suitable for sandwich slices.
Read on for a schedule with approximate times of day for how to plan your sourdough baking. The process at first seems complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it commits to memory and is not difficult.
Part I – The Starter
Sourdough “starter” is what takes the place of yeast in a normal bread recipe. You must obtain starter from somewhere, either from a friend or buy starter freeze-dried. If you get starter from a friend, just put it into the fridge until you are ready to use it to bake bread (ideally no more than a week in the fridge).
Here’s where our starter lives in between bread making. We have two jars just for backup. It is dormant:
However, “active” starter is what sourdough recipes will call for. It has a bubbly, fluffy appearance. Since active starter is a live culture of yeast and bacteria, it needs food in the form of flour. To get the starter active, remove it from the fridge and pour it into a medium bowl.
Activating the starter:
- Step 1: 10:00 am Saturday – Add to the starter an equal mix of filtered water and organic white flour until it reaches the consistency of thick paste.
The tool I use is called a Danish Dough Whisk:
- Step 2: Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and place on your counter. The heat and humidity in your kitchen will affect the speed at which the starter activates. Generally 6-8 hours after a feeding the starter is active. Look for bubbles.
Part II – Making Bread
- Kitchen scale – If you don’t have a scale you can use cups, but it won’t be as precise when you experiment with different flours because some flours are denser than others of the same volume.
- Dough whisk – or you can use your hands or a wooden spoon. Do not use an electric mixer as this will over-knead the dough
- Ceramic baking pan – ceramic seems to bake very evenly without hot spots. My dad uses a glass baking dish. Don’t use non-stick coated pans; they regulate heat badly and can leach chemicals into your bread.
- Large bowl and small bowl – We use glass because it is fun to see the bubbles that form inside, but you can also use stainless steel.
5 oz [or 1 cup] organic sprouted spelt or sprouted wheat flour
11 oz [or 2 1/2 cups] organic unbleached white flour
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
12 oz water
heaping 1/4 cup active starter
- Step 1: 6:00 pm Saturday – Weigh or measure out the flour and salt into the large bowl and stir with the whisk to combine.
- Step 2: Add the starter to the water.
In the small bowl, whisk the water and active starter together till it is nice and frothy.
*Important!* Whatever starter you have leftover after removing your 1/4 cup, feed it one more time and put into a jar and put in the fridge. It will keep there for a week or two.
- Step 3: Add the water and starter mixture all at once to the flour. Stop when it seems well incorporated but is still sticky. This will be a very wet dough.
Use the dough whisk to mix together.
- Step 4: Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave on your counter overnight.
- Step 5: 8:00 am Sunday – Wake up in the morning to see your dough has risen! This is a very exciting moment 🙂
- Step 6: Take off the plastic wrap and set aside to use later. Flour a clean surface and use a spatula to gently but quickly scrape the dough away from the side of the bowl as you tip it and pour the dough onto the surface.
- Step 7: Sprinkle flour on the dough and use your fingers to gently press the dough into a rectangle.
Try not to smash it too much and definitely do not use a rolling pin. The objective is to handle it as little as possible to maintain airiness.
- Step 8: Fold the dough into thirds and then in half, and place the plastic wrap back over the dough.
Let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Step 9: After 15 min, place your empty baking dish in the oven and set the temperature to 450 degrees. Set the timer for 45 minutes for the oven and baking dish to preheat. While the oven is preheating, pick your dough up from the surface and shape it into a very lose ball, then place it in a bowl or basket lined with a floured paper towel to rise.
- Step 10: When the 45 minutes is up, take the baking dish out of the oven and close the oven door. Pick up the dough in the paper towel and use the towel to gently tip the dough into the hot dish. You do not need to grease the sides of the dish.
- Step 11: We cover our dough with baking paper (aluminum foil on outside, parchment side towards dough) because we found it to yield the best results.
- Step 12: Put the dish back in the oven and set timer for 50 minutes. If using a cover, remove in the last 5 minutes to brown the crust.
- Step 13: 10:00 am – Turn off oven and take out your bread. Tip the bread out onto your counter to cool. It should not stick to the sides.
Now comes the hardest part. You must wait at least two hours to have the bread return to room temperature before cutting it. It is still cooking while it cools, and if you cut into it while it cools you will lose your big air bubbles.
- Step 14: 12:00pm – Cut your fresh bread and enjoy a nice sandwich for lunch.
For best digestibility and absorption of nutrients, bread should be eaten with generous amounts of grass-fed butter or other healthy fat like pastured lard or coconut oil. Enough to leave “teeth marks” is a good gauge.
Happy bread baking! Contact me with any questions; I would love to help you out.