No Knead Bread – Roasted Pear and Oatmeal Bread

No knead sourdough bread is super easy on the arms and the Kitchen Aid.  All it takes is time.  After the dust of the holiday festivities had settled, I still had a refrigerator full of food needing immediate use.  This bread began with a little bit of leftover oatmeal from the morning’s breakfast and became something special with the addition of roasted pears that I’d used for a cheese plate a week earlier.

Do I have a recipe to share?  Nope.  Who wants to actually roast pears before making this bread?  As much as I love cooking, not even I would say yes.  The trick is to make creative interesting meals with what you already have on hand.

As a guide, rather than a recipe I use 2 cups of wet or liquid ingredients including some sourdough starter.  In this case the pears and the oatmeal.  I then use the ratio of 5 cups flour: 1 tablespoon yeast: 1 tablespoon salt to the 2 cups of wet for each loaf of bread.  Here’s where it gets tricky – the moisture content is never the same when you are using leftovers.  You want your dough to be the consistency of sticky biscuit dough.  If you are a traditional bread maker who is used to kneading, you know that this is a mess waiting to cover your arms to the elbows.  Don’t fret though, it doesn’t hurt anything to add a bit more flour or water depending on which way you need to go.   In this case time will be your friend.

With these loaves you can see from the photo that I also pressed them flat, sprinkled them with cinnamon and demerera sugar and then rolled them into loaves for the loaf pans.

For more detailed process see my post on no knead sourdough bread.

No Knead Sourdough Bread

Usin’ what I got

Sourdough Starter Questons – Do I feed my starter before or after using it?

This was another question that was submitted about sourdough starters – related to a series of posts that happened in the winter of last year.  I’ve added some of the original posts if you are looking for more information.

I am storing my starter in the frig. I am using it about every 5 days.  When it comes time to use it in a recipe can I use it straight from the frig or do I have to feed it first, let it rest for a day out of the frig, and then use it?

I’ve done both.  Because I’m mostly using the starter for flavor in my no knead recipes rather than a leavening agent, I’m not sure it matters.  However, if your starter smells too strong, then I would feed it first to reduce the sour or ammonia smell and therefore taste of it.  Also, if you decide to use your starter for its rising properties, then I would feed it the night or morning before you use it.

Other posts on the same topic:

Sending out 100 year old sourdough starter

Sourdough starter – can you kill it?

Sourdough starter – can I use different flours in my starter?

And even more questions answered in these posts

Time to pull out the dutch ovens and get baking!

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Sourdough Starter Questions – What if I don’t have a Dutch oven?

What if I don't have a Dutch oven?  Can I use a Dru or other pot?  I have two suggestions for this one.  Yes, you can use a Dru or any other pot that has a lid and is around the correct size.  First, try using any oven proof pot with a lid (who cares if it has a long handle.)  It needs to be 3 1/2 to 5 inches tall and about 8 to 9 inches as the interior dimension.  Second, rather than buying a brand new pot, try adding a little less water to the dough so that it is more workable and doesn't require the support of the pot to keep it upright.  You'll need to experiment a bit with this one.  I'll work on it here too as several people have written to say they don't have Dutch ovens and I hate to send you to the store for a new pot if we can adjust the recipe enough to make it workable without a Dutch oven.

I couldn't get rid of small lumps when I added white flour.  Is that bad?  No, don't worry that much about them.  When I feed my starter, I just dump a cup of flour and a cup of water into the existing starter, firmly close the lid and shake well over the sink.  Any lumps are small enough to be absorbed into the starter in the resting/feeding period.  

You recommend storing the starter in a plastic container.  Can one use glass instead?  You can use glass, but you need to be SURE to crack the lid and not seal it tightly.  Guess how I know this? 

When I shake my starter at "feeding time," I always do it over the sink as it sometimes seeps around the edges of the lid because of the immediate pressure build up.  I then seat the lid again and store it.

My well-fed starter is in the fridge and has a narrow layer of water on top.  Should I worry?
No, this is just the by product of the yeast feeding on the starch of the flour.  It's normal.  It's also normal for it to smell more and more ammonia-like the longer you go between feedings.  This simply indicates that it's needing to be feed.  What I've found is that my starter is like the dog I had when we were growing up, it could always eat more.  That doesn't mean it always gets more.  I also have to say that there are times when my starter doesn't get even close to a regular feeding and has a big layer of thin liquid on the top.  After the yeast has eaten all of the starch in the flour, it just goes into a more dormant phase until its fed again.  Not ideal, but it happens for everyone who doesn't have their sourdough starter at the top of their daily "to do" list.

Keep the questions coming – I'll do my best to answer them all!

© 2009 Anne Mahle