The Perfect Sourdough Bread Recipe (no kneading or special equipment required)
This recipe is adapted from Alternet.
First things first: you will need an active sourdough starter. You can find my recipe here and don't worry! It only takes about 5 days to grow one completely from scratch. Once you your active starter, you can proceed.
For the bread:
- 120 grams starter
- 506 grams room temperature water
- 12 grams salt
- 580 grams whole wheat flour
Most people bake sourdough in a dutch oven. I actually don't have a dutch oven so I use the crock of my small crock pot -- I find this gave me a nicer shaped loaf anyway. If you use something other than a crock pot or dutch oven, just keep in mind that the thickness of your vessel matters. If it's too thin, your bread will just burn. Whatever vessel you use to cook your bread in - it needs to approximate the shape of the loaf you want. Your dough will still be very dough-y when you put it in the oven and will not hold it's shape independently. So if you use a giant dutch oven or a large crock -- you're just going to have a wide, flat loaf. It is also very important that your vessel have a lid, and that the lid is oven proof. I may or may not have melted the plastic handle of my first crock pot lid. So just learn from my hypothetical mistake. You can even tightly cover it with aluminum foil if you're in a pinch. The lid is important because it creates steam inside your vessel and this is key for the perfect crust.
1. Start by whisking together the starter, water, and salt in a large bowl. Add the flour and mix well. Let sit for 30 minutes.
2. After your 30 minutes are up, you're just going to fold the dough over itself a few times. Pick it up from one end, let it hang and basically fold it in half. Do this several times in the bowl.
3. Leave it rest in the bowl, covered, for 3 hours - coming back once an hour or so to fold it in half a few times.
4. About two hours in you're going to preheat your oven to 500 degrees and put your empty dutch oven with its cover into the oven so that it can get very hot.
5. After one hour -- pull your vessel out of the oven very carefully and spritz it with oil. Then drop your bread dough inside and put the lid on.
6. Bake for 30 minutes and then remove the lid. Continue baking 15 minutes more. It is done when the internal temp is 212 degrees. If you do not have a thermometer, you can judge it by the texture/color of the crust -- you want a nice deep golden brown -- and also by tapping on the bottom of the loaf and hearing a somewhat hollow sound. If it's not a hollow sound, that means your dough is still dense and dough-y in the middle and not yet done.
7. Once you've deemed your loaf "done" let it cool on a metal rack. The optimal flavor happens around 4 hours, but I know it can be hard to wait that long! I often just dig in right away.