Although good sourdough bread is a revelation, the recipes I enjoy require multiple steps over many days and I eventually lose interest in making them. I’ve been making my own version of no-knead bread with commercial yeast from a recipe by Jim Lahey. I decided to try it with my sourdough starter.
Fortunately, I’m not especially sentimental about hand-kneading dough. I like the feel of dough, but only for a few minutes and under my own terms. I once hand-kneaded a batch of dough for eighteen minutes because it was too large for my mixer. Only the last six of those minutes were excruciating. The first twelve minutes are still a wonderful memory.
I make a 900 gram (2 pound) loaf because it fits well into my clay baking dish and a smaller loaf gets eaten too fast. The benefit of measuring by weight and using the baker’s percentage is that you can easily scale the loaf to fit whatever size of pan you need. I calculate the ingredients to give an 80% hydration, which includes my starter (see below). I’ve been refreshing it using a 4:3 ratio by weight of water to flour.
404 g flour (I've been using King Arthur white bread flour.)
271 g water (somewhere around 68-72 degrees)
225 g starter
18 g salt
I mix the ingredients together thoroughly in a bowl with a big spoon and cover with plastic wrap. I let the bowl sit at room temperature (mine is 68-72) for about 9-10 hours and then refrigerate it overnight. The next day I take the dough out of the bowl and rest it on a silicone mat for 15 minutes. It’s sticky. I shape it loosely, put it into a baking pan lined with parchment paper, and put the baking pan inside a large Ziploc plastic bag. I let it rise for 2-3 hours (until it doesn't spring back much when pushed).
I pre-heat the oven to 450, but I don't pre-heat a baking pan as called for in the original no-knead recipe. I just put the cover on the baking pan and put it into the oven for about 30 minutes. I take the cover off and bake another 20-25 minutes. Then I turn the oven off, take the bread out of the pan and put the bread back in the oven for 5-10 minutes to let the crust dry out and brown. I let it get really, really golden brown. I use my convection fan to brown it, but if you don't have convection, opening the oven door a few inches has a similar effect.
Simple is better. I originally used a recipe by Peter Reinhart in Crust and Crumb, but I found that I could dispense with the raisin water and malt he added. I like adding a squirt of honey for luck.
1 cup of flour (I use King Arthur Organic White Whole Wheat)
1 cup of water (mine is filtered) at about 68-72 degrees
1 squirt of honey.
I mix the ingredients together, cover and let sit for 24 hours. On the second and third day I add water and white bread flour (I use King Arthur, but not organic) in a 4:3 ratio making sure to double the size of the mixture from the previous day. On the fourth and fifth days, I throw some of it out before refreshing to keep the starter manageable. I start using it once it is strong and bubbly about 4-5 days. After that I refresh it every other day (doubling the mixture) when I'm baking and use it the day after I refresh it. My latest batch made great bread on the seventh day.