Sourdough Recipes

My Bread by Jim Lahey, all about the no-knead bread process, is my new favorite read.  Mostly, it’s my new favorite “look” because the book has a number of super helpful photo essays that illustrate what the bread should look like, step by step.  When I initially wrote my column on no-knead bread using my 100 year plus sourdough, there were LOTS of questions that were posed by readers.  Many of them hard to answer because I couldn’t see what you created and I, in the format provided by the Portland Press Herald, couldn’t show you what it should look like.

 

Before I go any farther, I’d like to offer to anyone who would like to try using sourdough, a small bit of my starter.  It’s over 100 years old, given to me by a guest and absolutely meant to be shared. It’s just $10 plus shipping and I’ll send a cup of the starter to you with directions on how to feed it.

The Portland Press, in wisdom known only to them, has discontinued links to all past articles, including my columns.  And so I give you the no-knead sourdough column again in it’s entirety.

March 11, 2009
No-Knead Bread Recipes

Rustic Sourdough Bread
Brown Rice and Flax Seed Sourdough Bread
Maple Oatmeal Sourdough Bread

The smell of yeasty, mouth-watering bread baking in the oven is one of the most evocative smells to emanate from a kitchen.  It’s also one of the cheapest foods you can make for yourself and even more so when adding leftover cooked grains, nuts, compoted fruit, roasted peppers or onions.  And with so much talk of budgetary constraints recently, it’s a pleasure to give you recipes that can reduce your food budget while at the same time increase your enjoyment and nutrition at the table.  But making your own bread sometimes comes with a bit of interpretation, especially if you haven’t had the benefit of watching a mother or grandmother complete the process.  It’s my hope that the absence of kneading in these recipes tempts you to try one of the most rewarding efforts a cook/baker could have in the kitchen.

Almost two years ago now, Mark Bittman, food columnist for the New York Times, published a recipe for no knead bread baked in a Dutch oven and less than a year later Cook’s Illustrated published their own, more scientific version.  Both articles can be Googled online should you be interested in the source material for this article.

When I read Mr. Bittman’s article, I was skeptical, but as always, game to try anything once.  The claim was that baking bread this way achieved for the home cook what steam ovens and professional methods did for artisanal bakeries – an irregular-holed crumb and a full, crispy golden crust.  These two hallmarks are at least two of the characteristics that make bakery bread so special.

The Cook’s Illustrated article focuses on the flavor of the bread, as Bittman had perfected the method, trying to infuse a sourdough taste into the bread without using sourdough.  I followed the Cook’s recipe and found that I actually liked using my own sourdough over their method of adding beer.

The bottom line is that these recipes work and they do make excellent bread.  What I’ve done is to build on them to suggest a few variation and reintroduce the sourdough flavor into the bread.  Because ultimately, the kind of bread I make on any given day depends on what’s kicking around in the refrigerator waiting to be used up.  Just to give a few examples, when I was testing the recipes for this column, I found brown rice, oatmeal, cheesy mashed potatoes, polenta, roasted poblano peppers and ginger stewed prunes.  Not all meant to go into the same loaf mind you, but definitely promising for interesting bread, full of taste.

In the over 20 years that I’ve been baking, I’ve been able to attain a fairly decent crust, crumb and texture to my bread in my home oven and yet, a full, crispy crust had always been out of reach.  I’ve tried ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, spraying water mist over the bread and finally arrived at a cast iron pan filled with stones and used just as you would a sauna by pouring a cup of water over hot stones and closing the oven door quickly.  This pan just lives in the bottom of my oven, ready for action anytime.  Even with the most effective method, my crust has been good, but not great.

The techniques for these recipes are all the same and the baking time varies only a little.

To start, you need to plan when the dough gets mixed around when you will be home long enough to let it rise the second time and bake it.  This technique works especially well when you use different yeasts – rapid rise or regular.  When you want the bread for dinner the same day, mix it as soon as you wake up with rapid rise yeast to bake that evening.  When you’ll be home in the morning to bake, mix it the night before as you are making dinner with regular yeast.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and then add the wet ingredients, RESERVING some water.  The water is the only measurement in these recipes that should change.  The dough when thoroughly mixed should resemble biscuit dough that is a tiny bit too wet.  If it is at all dry, add more water.  For anyone who has tried bread making before, it looks like an absolute mess to knead.  And it would be if you were kneading it.  But lucky for all of us, we don’t have to do that.

Cover the dough and let rise for 8 to 14 hours.  Eight hours with rapid rise yeast and up to 14 hours with regular yeast.

Ready two bowls about the half the size of your dough by lining with parchment paper.
When the dough has risen and developed a level surface, it’s ready to shape.  When you first mix the dough, the surface of it is rounded and slightly ball-shaped.  When it’s ready to shape, the dough will have leveled off and look even more wet than it did initially.  Again, it looks like a mess to work with, but it’s doable.

Generously flour your hands and the counter and with a dough scraper or spatula, move the dough onto the floured counter.  Cut it in half and, with a generous application of flour, pull the edges of the dough into the center to form a ball.  You aren’t punching it down as you might with kneaded dough.  You actually want the air bubbles in the dough to mostly remain intact.  Form the dough with 10 to 15 folds to the center.  Quickly transfer the shaped dough to the parchment paper lined bowl.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.  Oil the dough lightly and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise to double its shape, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Half way through the rising time, place two Dutch ovens or other heavy oven proof pots with lids in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.  When the dough has risen to double, transfer to the hot Dutch ovens by lifting the edges of the parchment paper to move the dough.  Don’t remove the parchment paper; you bake the loaves with it underneath.  Cover the Dutch ovens and return to the oven for the suggested time.  The baking time may vary some due to the thickness of the pots.

Rustic Sourdough Bread
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 cup sourdough starter
1 3/4 cups water

Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until an internal thermometer measures 210 degrees.
Makes 2 loaves.

Brown Rice and Flax Seed Sourdough Bread
If you’d like the benefit of the Omega-3 fat in flax seed, take the extra step to grind them in a spice/nut grinder.  I like both the nutty, crunchy taste and feel when they are whole as well.

6 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/3 cup flax seed
1 cup sourdough starter
2 cups water

Bake 1 hour and 15-20 minutes or until an internal thermometer measures 210 degrees.
Makes 2 loaves.

Maple Oatmeal Sourdough Bread
You can make this bread without the extract, but the fabulous smell or taste isn’t quite the same.  Try substituting vanilla instead.  Maple extract can be found in the baking section of your grocery store.

5 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon maple extract
1 cup sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups water

Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes or until an internal thermometer measures 210 degrees.
Makes 2 loaves.

A note about taking care of sourdough:  Use 1 cup per recipe and replace with 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup water.  Mix thoroughly and return to refrigerator.

Annie
For more information on sourdough, click the “bread” link on the right and scroll through past posts.

Column #168

March 11, 2009

No-Knead Bread Recipes

 

Rustic Sourdough Bread

Brown Rice and Flax Seed Sourdough Bread

Maple Oatmeal Sourdough Bread

 

The smell of yeasty, mouth-watering bread baking in the oven is one of the most evocative smells to emanate from a kitchen.  It’s also one of the cheapest foods you can make for yourself and even more so when adding leftover cooked grains, nuts, compoted fruit, roasted peppers or onions.  And with so much talk of budgetary constraints recently, it’s a pleasure to give you recipes that can reduce your food budget while at the same time increase your enjoyment and nutrition at the table.  But making your own bread sometimes comes with a bit of interpretation, especially if you haven’t had the benefit of watching a mother or grandmother complete the process.  It’s my hope that the absence of kneading in these recipes tempts you to try one of the most rewarding efforts a cook/baker could have in the kitchen.

 

Almost two years ago now, Mark Bittman, food columnist for the New York Times, published a recipe for no knead bread baked in a Dutch oven and less than a year later Cook’s Illustrated published their own, more scientific version.  Both articles can be Googled online should you be interested in the source material for this article.

 

When I read Mr. Bittman’s article, I was skeptical, but as always, game to try anything once.  The claim was that baking bread this way achieved for the home cook what steam ovens and professional methods did for artisanal bakeries – an irregular-holed crumb and a full, crispy golden crust.  These two hallmarks are at least two of the characteristics that make bakery bread so special.

 

The Cook’s Illustrated article focuses on the flavor of the bread, as Bittman had perfected the method, trying to infuse a sourdough taste into the bread without using sourdough.  I followed the Cook’s recipe and found that I actually liked using my own sourdough over their method of adding beer.

 

The bottom line is that these recipes work and they do make excellent bread.  What I’ve done is to build on them to suggest a few variation and reintroduce the sourdough flavor into the bread.  Because ultimately, the kind of bread I make on any given day depends on what’s kicking around in the refrigerator waiting to be used up.  Just to give a few examples, when I was testing the recipes for this column, I found brown rice, oatmeal, cheesy mashed potatoes, polenta, roasted poblano peppers and ginger stewed prunes.  Not all meant to go into the same loaf mind you, but definitely promising for interesting bread, full of taste.

 

Before I go any farther, I’d like to offer to anyone who would like to try using sourdough, a small bit of my starter.  It’s over 100 years old, given to me by a guest and absolutely meant to be shared. Just send your mailing address by email and I’ll send a cup of the starter to you with directions on how to feed it.

 

In the over 20 years that I’ve been baking, I’ve been able to attain a fairly decent crust, crumb and texture to my bread in my home oven and yet, a full, crispy crust had always been out of reach.  I’ve tried ice cubes in the bottom of the oven, spraying water mist over the bread and finally arrived at a cast iron pan filled with stones and used just as you would a sauna by pouring a cup of water over hot stones and closing the oven door quickly.  This pan just lives in the bottom of my oven, ready for action anytime.  Even with the most effective method, my crust has been good, but not great.

 

The techniques for these recipes are all the same and the baking time varies only a little.

 

To start, you need to plan when the dough gets mixed around when you will be home long enough to let it rise the second time and bake it.  This technique works especially well when you use different yeasts – rapid rise or regular.  When you want the bread for dinner the same day, mix it as soon as you wake up with rapid rise yeast to bake that evening.  When you’ll be home in the morning to bake, mix it the night before as you are making dinner with regular yeast.

 

Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and then add the wet ingredients, RESERVING some water.  The water is the only measurement in these recipes that should change.  The dough when thoroughly mixed should resemble biscuit dough that is a tiny bit too wet.  If it is at all dry, add more water.  For anyone who has tried bread making before, it looks like an absolute mess to knead.  And it would be if you were kneading it.  But lucky for all of us, we don’t have to do that.

 

Cover the dough and let rise for 8 to 14 hours.  Eight hours with rapid rise yeast and up to 14 hours with regular yeast.

 

Ready two bowls about the half the size of your dough by lining with parchment paper.

When the dough has risen and developed a level surface, it’s ready to shape.  When you first mix the dough, the surface of it is rounded and slightly ball-shaped.  When it’s ready to shape, the dough will have leveled off and look even more wet than it did initially.  Again, it looks like a mess to work with, but it’s doable.

 

Generously flour your hands and the counter and with a dough scraper or spatula, move the dough onto the floured counter.  Cut it in half and, with a generous application of flour, pull the edges of the dough into the center to form a ball.  You aren’t punching it down as you might with kneaded dough.  You actually want the air bubbles in the dough to mostly remain intact.  Form the dough with 10 to 15 folds to the center.  Quickly transfer the shaped dough to the parchment paper lined bowl.  Repeat with the other half of the dough.  Oil the dough lightly and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise to double its shape, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

 

Half way through the rising time, place two Dutch ovens or other heavy oven proof pots with lids in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.  When the dough has risen to double, transfer to the hot Dutch ovens by lifting the edges of the parchment paper to move the dough.  Don’t remove the parchment paper; you bake the loaves with it underneath.  Cover the Dutch ovens and return to the oven for the suggested time.  The baking time may vary some due to the thickness of the pots.

 

Rustic Sourdough Bread

5 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 teaspoon yeast

1 cup sourdough starter

1 3/4 cups water

 

Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until an internal thermometer measures 210 degrees.

Makes 2 loaves.

 

Brown Rice and Flax Seed Sourdough Bread

If you’d like the benefit of the Omega-3 fat in flax seed, take the extra step to grind them in a spice/nut grinder.  I like both the nutty, crunchy taste and feel when they are whole as well.

 

6 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 teaspoon yeast

1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1/3 cup flax seed

1 cup sourdough starter

2 cups water

 

Bake 1 hour and 15-20 minutes or until an internal thermometer measures 210 degrees.

Makes 2 loaves.

 

Maple Oatmeal Sourdough Bread

You can make this bread without the extract, but the fabulous smell or taste isn’t quite the same.  Try substituting vanilla instead.  Maple extract can be found in the baking section of your grocery store.

 

5 cups all purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt

1/4 teaspoon yeast

1 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon maple extract

1 cup sourdough starter

1 1/2 cups water

 

Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes or until an internal thermometer measures 210 degrees.

Makes 2 loaves.

 

A note about taking care of sourdough:  Use 1 cup per recipe and replace with 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup water.  Mix thoroughly and return to refrigerator.  There isn’t enough space here to go into detail, but check out my food blog at www.artichokesandaspargus.com for more information.

 

As always, feel free to email with questions, I’m always happy to hear from you.

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9 thoughts on “Sourdough Recipes

  1. NPR’s food show did a bit on Mark Bittman a while ago. I heard it again last week and was going to it a shot. I’ll try yours instead.

  2. Thank you for reposting your article here! I had linked to your original (brilliant) column when I found it (over a year ago), but since I make the Rustic Sourdough bread so often now it’s committed to memory. I make it two or three time a month. I’ll be sure to update my link (and try the other variations). Thanks again!

  3. Thank you for all of your great info! I was wondering if the starter has to be a certain type of flour( organic) or do you use regular all purpose flour …. I read somewhere that it did matter but I would like to know what you say? Thanks!

  4. Thank you for all of your great info! I was wondering if the starter has to be a certain type of flour( organic) or do you use regular all purpose flour …. I read somewhere that it did matter but I would like to know what you say? Thanks!

Comments are closed.