Friday, April 12, 2013

Easy No-Knead Artisan Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

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Okay... so I'm basically a lazy person.  I like easy, so I confess:  I LOVE this recipe.  This has become my go-to recipe for bread when we are out of Honey Whole Wheat (hubby's absolute favorite) or Cinnamon bread.  Actually, it's quickly becoming my favorite "daily" bread.

This recipe is based on the concept of the Artisan Bread in 5-Minutes a Day although instead of making up dough for several loaves at one time and storing it in the fridge (which may be challenging to find the space in there) you just make it up as you need it.

Some things we need to cover first:
  • Your sourdough starter must be active.  If it is a relatively new starter, you may have different results.  (You know your starter is active when it doubles or triples in volume between feedings.  For best results in growing your starter, feed it every 12 hours or so.  If you store your starter in the fridge you will want to feed it at least 3 times before making bread.)  How to make a starter?  Go here...  You can download a free chapter explaining how to start your own starter or you can go here to purchase one.
  • Your starter should be nice and thick, not runny.  This was my biggest mistake when I first started my starter.  I gave it too much water and not enough flour.  A runny starter has a hard time being strong enough to double in size.  The consistency of your starter should be like a really thick pancake batter.
  • Because of differences in starter moisture level, your home's humidity level, and type of flour you are using, I can't give you an exact amount of flour to use.  Sorry.  But when you see how easy this is, you won't be angry anymore.

 Easy No-Knead Artisan Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
  • 1 C active starter
  • 1 C filtered water
  • 2 t sea salt
  • Fresh whole wheat flour (approx. 2 cups)
  1. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine starter, water, and salt.
  2. Add enough flour to make a dough that is somewhat sticky.  The dough should be moist, not dry.  When you touch it quickly, it won't stick to your fingertips, but if you picked it up with your hands, it would.
  3. Cover and allow to sour 12 hours or overnight.  The longer you allow it to sour and/or the warmer your kitchen, the more sour-tasting your final product will be.
  4. Fold the dough in half, over on itself.  (I like to use my plastic bowl scraper for this.)  Turn the bowl 1/4 turn (90 degrees) and fold it in half again.  (DO NOT pat down the dough.  We want to leave as many of the bubbles that have formed in there.)
  5. Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the top of the dough.  Using your bowl scraper, gently scoop out the dough.  As gently as possible, form it into the shape you desire.  Remember this doesn't have to be pretty.
  6. Sprinkle top of dough with flour.
  7. Allow to rise until doubled.  The amount of time will depend on how warm your kitchen is and how "strong" your starter is.  I have a cool kitchen, so mine normally takes another 8 hours or so, but it may only take only 2-4 hours.
  8. Bake.*
  9. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.  
*Depending on what kind of a finished product you like best will determine how you bake it.

Crispy crust: 
  • Place in the bottom of your oven a shallow non-glass pan.  (I use the bottom of the broiler pan that came with my stove.)
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  If you have a baking stone, you will want it to be preheating in there, too.
  • When oven is ready, heat 1 C water to boiling.
  • Dust baking stone with cornmeal.  Gently, place loaf on cornmeal-dusted baking stone.
  • Pour boiling water into pan at bottom of oven and quickly shut oven door.  You want as much steam to stay in your oven as possible.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes.  Internal temperature of loaf should be 180-200 degrees.
Soft crust (our favorite):
  • After step #5, place dough in a bread pan or on a cookie sheet to rise, sprinkling top with flour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes.  Internal temperature of loaf should be 180-200 degrees.

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