Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Sourdough Chronicles - The First Great Success!

Welcome back to The Sourdough Chronicles.  I promised to update you on the first loaf using the true old-school sourdough starter.  (That's the one that started as a blob...

...but came alive, started producing bubbles, and was, as I hoped, smelling sour and doubling in size after a week...

...).  I followed a no knead sourdough recipe I found online here.   It turned out amazing! 

It was dense and sour, but not too sour, and the crust was crusty and YUM.  OK so here are step by step pics.  By the way, this whole process takes anywhere from 20 to 24 hours so plan accordingly. 


1 cup sourdough starter
6 cups bread flour
3 cups water
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (i am not sure this is necessary and probably will not use it next time).


1.  Combine 2 cups room temp water and sourdough starter

2. Whisk it up... aerate it a LOT!

3.  Add 1/4 tsp yeast (if using), and 3 cups flour... stir it up!

4.  Add remaining water (1 cup) and salt (2 tsp.) and... yeah, you got it.. stir it up again!

5.  Add last 3 cups flour, STIR IT UP!

6.  Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and leave in a draft free place for 12-15 hours.  (Make sure this is a REALLY REALLY BIG BOWL!  It will double in size)

7.  Check on it occasionally - it should be bubbly and BIG.  Bubbles should not be popping so catch it before that starts to happen.  It will look like this:

8.  Cover your hands in flour, and turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface... this will take several hand dips in the flour bowl and some maneuvering.  Tuck in edges to make it round.

9.  Wash out the bowl.  This part SUCKS.  A good trick is to use a plastic card you don't need (like a membership card you don't use)(mine is from Micheal's Arts and Crafts :)) and scrape the dough off the bowl.  It will destroy any sponge.  Beware.

10.  Put a little oil in the bowl and gently lift the dough back in.

11.  Time for the second rise.  This could be anywhere from 2 to 5 hours depending on the environment and temperature in your kitchen.  It should double in size but be careful that the dough doesn't start collapsing in on itself.  It took about 3 hours in my kitchen in summer.  It will look like this:

12.  A half hour before the dough is ready, preheat your oven, and whatever you will be using to bake the bread, at 450 degrees.  I split the dough in half (I highly recommend doing this, unless you want a really large loaf) and used two dutch ovens that were 4.5 and 5.5 quarts in size. Make sure you have a cover.

13.  Remove the preheated dutch ovens from the oven (BE CAREFUL!  HOT!!). Sprinkle some cornmeal or oatmeal (I used oatmeal and it gave a nice crunch to the bottom) in the bottom of the pan.  Carefully turn the dough into the pots.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and cook another 15 minutes or so until the bread is a nice brown color and sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom. 

Voila! Let cool if you can resist cutting in.  Be generous with the butter people!  Or cheese! Or oil and vinegar!  Just eat it.

Enjoy!  Stay tuned for the next issue of The Sourdough Chronicles where I will try using a slightly different recipe.

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