Baking sourdough can be a daunting endeavor. I read Robin Sloan’s delightful novel Sourdough toward the beginning of The Great Quarantine of 2020, and was inspired to grow my own starter. I quickly learned that fictional books are fiction (gasp!), and may make certain recipes seem easier than in real life. (It’s still a lovely read and you should check it out.) My first starter was a failure (probably because I was impatient), but I endeavored to try again after getting some established starter from a friend.Jump to Recipe
This recipe, adapted from The Prairie Homestead, helped me bake my first successful loaf. (Side note: her blog is excellent, and has a host of wonderful resources if you’re just starting your sourdough journey.) It requires only the simplest of ingredients, no kneading, and calls for less prep time than many other recipes I’ve sifted through.
Most bread recipes insist that you *must* have a kitchen scale, and you *must* only bake by weight. Do I agree that this is a good idea? Yes. Is it absolutely necessary for this recipe? No. I’ve included the weights in case you prefer the most precise method, but in general, this recipe does fine with traditional Imperial measurements.
Some notes regarding this recipe:
- You should feed your starter several hours before starting this dough. Your starter will be strong enough for this recipe once it can double or triple in size within six hours. Use your starter when it is at its “peak” in order to get optimal rise in your bread. While not strictly necessary if you have a strong starter, I’ve had the best luck when I feed my starter 2-3 times in the 24 hours leading up to baking this bread. King Arthur Baking’s page on starter maintenance is extremely helpful, especially if you are a beginner.
- Before placing your dough on parchment and lowering it into your Dutch oven, you should cover the bottom of your Dutch oven with a layer of *something* in order to prevent the bottom of your bread from scorching. Traditionally one would use cornmeal, but that wasn’t something I had on hand, so I used something similar — farina, aka Cream of Wheat. Either one should work fine.
Basic No-Knead Sourdough
- Dutch oven
- 1/2 cup active (fed) sourdough starter 112g; feed 2-3 hours before using
- 1.25 cups water (lukewarm) 283g
- 3 cups all-purpose flour 360g
- 2 teaspoons salt (I like kosher salt)
- 3 tablespoons farina (Cream of Wheat) or corn meal optional – for bottom of Dutch oven
- Combine your (fed) starter with lukewarm water in a large bowl.
- Mix together flour and salt; add these dry ingredients to your starter slurry.
- Mix the slurry until it becomes stiff, then use your hands to shape it into a rough ball. Important: don't overmix your dough! It's supposed to be somewhat wet.
- Leave your rough dough ball in its bowl and cover with a clean tea towel; allow to rise for 2-3 hours
- After this first rise, remove your dough and gently stretch it between your hands a couple of times before forming it into another ball. (Be gentle! Remember, we're not kneading.)
- Cover your bowl with a clean tea towel and place in a warm place to rest overnight (8-12 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size). I keep mine in the oven, with the light on but heat off.
- After your long rise, place your dough ball into a new bowl – either one that has been lightly greased or one that is lined with a flour-coated tea towel. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
- Gently tug and fold your dough into a new ball (don't knead!) and allow to rest in its bowl at room temperature for another ~3 hours, or until it has doubled in size. Toward the end of this rise, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
- Get out your Dutch oven – sprinkle the farina evenly along the bottom. This will help prevent the bread from burning. Place a large sheet of parchment overtop of your Dutch oven.
- Pour your dough from it's bowl into the waiting sheet of parchment. It should fall into the center of the Dutch oven, with ample extra parchment on either side to allow for easy lifting once the bread is baked. Cut off any parchment that reaches beyond the top of the Dutch oven.
- Place the lid on your Dutch oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes have passed, carefully remove the lid from your Dutch oven and bake your bread for an additional 30 minutes. Your bread is done when it is a deep golden color, with possible crispy edges on any bubbles.
- Remove bread from Dutch oven and allow to cool on a heat-proof surface. Cut once cool in order to preserve the rise of the dough.