Bread, a simple combination of flour and water that sustains life. And lately it’s been sustaining me. I came down with a nasty stomach bug last weekend and since then, all I’ve been craving is the simple flavor of bread. But not any bread—this deliciously tangy sourdough.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that Malin and her Bread Exchange inspired me to bake bread last year, but my starter never took off. This year, thanks to a very active sourdough starter brought here all the way from California, I’ve had many successes. At first I tried the all around favorite, Chad Robertson’s Tartine method. Baking bread is soothing. Tartine’s version includes an initial overnight resting (a poolish), and then several hours of occasional stretching and folding. It’s peaceful and restorative work. But baking bread can take all day and sometimes you just can’t devote all day to bread. I was happy with my Tartine-style loaves but I needed a less time intensive method.
Then I stumbled on a sourdough version of Mark Bittman’s no-knead method. The recipe is basically just a baked poolish, the Tartine recipe without the folding steps the next day. Although the dough was quite wet when it went into the oven, it came out with a nice thick, dark crust, and wonderful sour crumb. While I’m sure very savvy bread testers could tell the difference in flavor, I’m happy with this low key technique. I can put together the ingredients the night before and wake up to bake bread before I leave the house in the morning. If I time it right, I can even have a nibble of still slightly warm bread for breakfast. Perfect!
No-Knead Sourdough, adapted from Stone Soup
Servings: 1 large loaf or 2 small loafs
325 grams bread flour
200 grams sourdough starter
200 grams water
1 teaspoon fine salt
In a large bowl, combine the flour, starter, water, and salt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 12 hours. This recipe works well if you prepare the dough in the evening and rest it overnight, planning to bake the following morning.
After the resting period, turn out the dough on a heavily floured work surface. Lightly flour dough and gently fold a few times, dusting with flour as the dough will be quite sticky. Avoid adding too much flour, but add enough to make the dough pliable. Gently form a round loaf, or divide the dough in half and form two loaves.
Place the loaf on a well floured section of the work surface, dust lightly with flour, and cover with the bowl.
Place a large oven proof dish with a lid in the oven. Preheat the oven on the highest setting for at least 30 minutes.
When the oven has preheated, carefully remove the pan from the oven and remove the lid. Sprinkle bottom of pan lightly with flour and carefully place the loaf into the pan. Cover the pan and return to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and reduce heat to 200°C. Continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf is a dark brown color.
Remove loaf from oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes.