Suddenly all of those indoor projects I vowed to do over the winter are being put on the back burner. Spring is teasing me in its usual fits and starts fashion. I’ve been conditioned by the Northwest spring — when the sun is shining, I’d better go outside because who knows how long it will last. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
All winter I’ve been intending to make sourdough bread, my answer to as-close-to-local bread as I can get. Leslie Mackie, one of our local artisan bakers, has a recipe for making a sourdough starter using organic grapes in her Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook. Problem is, this isn’t the season for grapes in the Northwest and besides, my attention span for long instructions seems to be shortening as quickly as the days are lengthening. My friend in all-things-fermented, Lorna, came to the rescue with a lovely jar of sourdough starter and the recipe for no-knead bread.
I’m going to give you what you need to get started. There is much written on the no-knead theory of bread-making (without sourdough starter) by Mark Bittman and others. If you try it and want to know more about using different flours, improving crumb structure, etc., please feel free to delve further. What I learned after trying it once is that this is the method for me. It’s super-easy, inexpensive and you get a wonderful loaf of bread with a fabulous crust with very little effort. Charlie said it’s way better than the bread I used to make. Hmmm….. I’ll take that as a compliment.
Lily is the only one that missed the kneading usually required to make bread. Not to mention the dough is super sticky, not as much fun as the other kind. I think she’ll agree that the result is worth the sacrifice.
Sourdough No-Knead Bread
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sourdough starter (or 1/4 t instant yeast)
1 1/4 t salt
1 cup water (or 1 1/2 cup if you use yeast)
Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the wet ingredients. You will have a very wet, sticky dough.
Cover with plastic and let it sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours. Mine sat for 18 hours. When the dough is ready for the next step, it will have bubbles on the surface. Pour it out onto a floured surface and gently pat it forming a flat loaf.
Fold two opposite sides in toward the center, then the other two sides to form a “ball” of dough. Place the ball seam-side down on a cotton towel sprinkled with wheat bran or cornmeal. Sprinkle some more on top and cover with another towel. Let it rise again for about 2 hours.
You’ll need a heavy ceramic or cast iron pot with a tight-fitting lid. Place the pan in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes before you are ready to bake. Flip your dough into the preheated pot, seam side up.
Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for 15-30 minutes more until the crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack if you can wait that long before digging in……….