The below recipe was the result of exhaustion and error that worked out beautifully. Also note: the below loaf of bread is sized to fit into my 2.5qt dutch oven. You’ll want to double things if you’re baking in a 5qt.
In case you haven’t figured it out from reading the rest of my blog, I work at Home Depot. As soon as the shutdown hit Home Depot’s sales went absolutely batshit. Someone described it as “Black Friday Weekend for 3 months straight” and I haven’t come up with a better description. Except it was worse than a normal Black Friday weekend. A normal BFW we know when its going to happen, we know when its going to end, we know what we have to sell, we know when we’re getting more, and what we’re not getting more of. On a normal BFW the average customer knows that things are limited quantity and that they may not be able to get what they want. None of that was true of this last 3 months. The last 3 months have been retail hell. My pedometer app on my phone clocked me at over 24,000 steps one day. Over 20,000 became my “normal” for most of this. The brand new shoes I bought back in March look like they’re a year old.
And to top it off, store bought bread is no longer an option for me on any sort of a regular basis (great big long post coming on THAT), and you STILL can’t reliably get yeast at any of my local grocery stores.
So, I’ve been making sourdough bread for most of this. Which is fine, I LIKE sourdough. But its a time/labor intensive bread. I have to plan ahead by several days in order to bake on my day off. Which is a pain!
One week, back mid-May, I got out the sourdough starter to feed up, so I could start sourdough bread so I could bake on my day off. Except that I was so exhausted that I never got the dough started. I managed to keep the starter on the counter fed twice a day, but anything more complicated than that just wasn’t happening. So my day off came around and we didn’t have any bread in the house, and I hadn’t started any sourdough, and I didn’t have any yeast, and I can’t do store bought bread any more, and……fuck it, lets see what happens.
(the below % are what I’m currently baking with, it did take some trial and error to get them right, but you get the idea)
pull starter out of fridge the night before and feed*
the morning of baking day:
~350 grams of flour (I use 100 grams of Red Fife Whole Wheat, the rest King Arthur’s All Purpose)
225 grams of warm water
6 grams of salt
~60 grams of recently fed sourdough starter (ok, I don’t actually measure this, I tend to just dump in a nice sized glob)
mix till reasonably cohesive and no clumps of flour remain, adding extra flour as needed to keep it from being to sloppy wet
cover and let set for 15 minutes, then fold the dough in half, turn the bowl 90 degrees and fold the dough again, turn and fold. Repeat 15 minute set and folding a total of 4 times
cover and let set in a warm spot till mostly doubled. I’ve had this happen in as little as 1.5hours and as much as 3.
prepare your banneton, if you don’t have a banneton then a properly sized pyrex bowl will work – spray bowl with oil and then dust heavily with flour
shape dough into round loaf** and place seam side up with banneton/bowl, cover and place in fridge
I’ve let it set in the fridge for as little as 5 hours and as much as 10, both work just fine***. I imagine overnight would work too, but I wanted a same day loaf.
When you’re ready to bake place your empty dutch oven into the cold baking oven and set the oven to 500 degrees (F). When oven is up to temperature take the dough out of the fridge and carefully flip out onto a piece of parchment paper (I like to sprinkle cornmeal on the parchment first), and slash the top.
Pull the dutch oven out of the oven (careful, its HOT!) and, using the parchment as a sling, place the dough into the dutch oven, place the lid on, and put back into the baking oven, turn temp down to 450 degrees, and bake for 20 minutes.
At the 20 minute mark remove the dutch oven’s lid and bake bread for another 20 minutes.
Pull out of oven and carefully remove bread from dutch oven and remove parchment, place bread back into the baking oven, directly on the rack, and bake for another 5-10 minutes till properly golden. Let cool before slicing, no matter how much like heaven it smells.
*while pretty much everyone agrees that you can feed your sourdough starter with plain white/all purpose flour I have found that you’ll have a MUCH happier sourdough if you feed with at least half whole wheat or rye flours
**if your no-knead/sourdough breads tend to flatten in the oven instead of poofing properly you’re most likely not shaping the loaf of bread correctly. There is a temptation with these to just wad them into a ball and call it done. Don’t do that, hit the internet search engine of your choice and watch some videos of the pro’s shaping loaves. Or here, this is one I like.
*** this produces a nice mildly flavored sourdough loaf. The longer it sets in the fridge the stronger the flavor will be. If you like a stronger flavored sourdough then experiment with longer set times.