Imagine being able to enjoy a delicious, moist home-made sourdough loaf with a light crisp crust. Imagine being able to make such a loaf without any kneading at all. No, this is not an advertisement for a new kind of bread-making machine! I’ve simply discovered a new bread recipe that is perfectly suited for busy people who want to enjoy the taste and health benefits of slow-rise sourdough bread.
First of all, I must give heartfelt thanks to Kurt, for giving such a thorough and enthusiastic introduction to making artisan bread at home on the Living Green Farm blog. Thanks for sharing, Kurt! We love your website, and this recipe has made a big difference in our lives around here! (Don’t get me wrong; I love the therapeutic activity of kneading bread dough. But these days, with a baby to cuddle and play with as well as all the usual Farmlet business, a no-hassle bread recipe like this is just what we need!)
The following recipe is the Farmlet version of Kurt’s “No-Knead Bread,” adapted for use with our wild sourdough starter and 100% wholegrain flours:
1/2 cup sourdough starter
2 cups whole wheat flour (We use freshly ground Arawa or Otane wheat)
1 cup rye flour (We use zentrofan rye flour that we buy from Terrace Farm in Canterbury)
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
1. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with just enough water to make a loose dough (This might be a bit more or less than one and a half cups of water. Could be quite a lot less if your sourdough is runny!). The dough should be much wetter than regular bread dough, but still stiff enough so that you’ll be able to lift and manipulate it. Kurt describes the correct consistency as “stiffer than pancake batter, but still a bit moist and slumpy.” I would liken the dough to a rather sticky scone dough — for those of you who have ever made scones!
2. Cover the bowl, and leave the dough to rise for 18 to 24 hours.
3. Sprinkle a layer of cornmeal on a work surface, flour your hands, and turn the dough out onto the cornmeal. The dough will now be much stickier now than it was when you first mixed it 24 hours ago, but hopefully can still be folded over on itself a couple of times to form a very rough loaf (Don’t knead it!). This part usually works out really sticky, squishy and messy for me, but the end result has always been fine!
4. Spread a thin layer of corn meal on a smooth tea-towel and put the dough on top of it. Dust the top of the loaf with a little flour or cornmeal if it seems sticky, and fold the tea towel over to cover it.
5. Leave the loaf to sit at room temperature for another 2 hours.
6. 20 minutes before this second rise is finished, preheat your oven to degrees(475 degrees F) with the empty Dutch oven (or covered casserole) in it. 475 degrees F.
7. When the 2 hours are up, open the hot oven, take the lid off the Dutch oven, carefully transfer the risen loaf into the Dutch oven, and replace the lid.
8. Bake in the covered Dutch oven for about 30 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the loaf looks nicely golden and crisp (more like 10 minutes in our oven!).
9. Remove loaf from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Why does the bread require no kneading? It seems that the long rise-time and extra moisture in the dough allow the gluten molecules to align themselves as if they had been kneaded. Anyway, the result is very pleasing!
Why do you bake the bread in a Dutch oven, first with the lid on and then with the lid removed? To imitate the action of the fancy steam-injection ovens used by professional bread makers to produce a light, crispy crust.