With all the baking, I’ve been getting some sore wrists. For those of you that are faithful devoteés of our bread making endeavors, you may recall that we tried a No-Knead bread when we lived back in Maine (I know… ALL of our old posts are there… good times). The guy(s) over at Breadtopia have come up with a no-knead method using Sourdough Starter, so we decided to give it a go. If you want to try it, they have a very complete instruction video over on the site (hit the link above) that takes you step by step through the process. The idea is that when you knead bread, you are essentially accomplishing the same task as what the dough and levain would do by itself if left to its own devices.
From Baking Illustrated:
“When water and flour first mix, gluten forms in a random, disorganized matrix that is very weak. As this matrix is kneaded, the disorganized bonds are pulled aprt and reattached into straight, strong, orderly sheets.”
This reordering of the matrix is done naturally when the flour, wather and leaven are allowed to rest in excess of 24 hours. Therefore, instead of kneading the bread and having it ready to go after a 3 hour rise, a wet, soggy dough is allowed to ferment over at least 18 hours and then dumped into a hot dutch oven and quickly covered. The covering of the dough traps the steam created by the baking dough and gives the loaf a nice crust on the top.
This is the dough as we left it to ferment. We eventually added a little flour, as we thought that it was a little TOO soggy.
The next morning, the dough had increased in size and was significantly more "stable". Still floppy and sticky though.
We placed the dough in a heavily floured proofing basket after forming it into a ball.
The bread, as it came out of the oven. As you can see, the oven spring was considerable.
The large air pockets in the loaf are an indication of the relative wetness of the dough. Apparently, if you make the dough stiffer, you will get a more consistent crumb and less air holes. Purely preference, I suppose.
All in all, it was a good loaf. We kind of messed up on the bake time, and we had a bit too much olive oil in our dutch oven (the bottom crust tastes very olive oil-y). We’ll definitely try this one again.