If you’ve ever had a good crusty, chewy loaf of bread and then tried to replicate it at home, you know what a frustrating experience that can be. Most of our home ovens are just not cut out to create the kind of environment that the bread requires. Luckily, I’m here with a solution to all your baking woes.
No, I didn’t invent this method, but I’ve tested it and can say that the results are quite amazing. The original no knead recipe that’s floating around out there uses yeast, but I adapted it to use sourdough starter (if you don’t have any, learn how to start your own). I bake often with sourdough, so I know that if the dough will be sitting overnight anyway, the sourdough will make it rise just as well as instant yeast will, and may even offer some extra health benefits. And while you certainly can use a pinch of yeast in place of the starter, you definitely won’t get the same tangy flavor as a no knead sourdough. You will need a Dutch oven for this, or at least some kind of oven safe container with a lid.
Start out with your sourdough starter (about 1/4 cup) in a large bowl, then add 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir this up to make a nice slurry. Add some flour (all-purpose is fine, sprouted works too, though if you use whole wheat, maybe do a 50/50 mix), about 3 – 3 1/2 cups, and a pinch of salt. Mix to combine – the dough should be sticky, but if it’s too close to batter consistency, add more flour. If it’s too loose and runny, it won’t form a nice loaf.
When you’re satisfied with the consistency, put the dough ball into an oiled metal or glass mixing bowl, making sure it has ample room to at least double or triple in volume. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and set aside. Let it rise for at least eight hours or overnight; I usually do at least 12 hours.
After the dough has risen, dump the dough onto a floured surface and gently work it into a boule (your standard round loaf shape). I find the easiest way to do this is to gently pull on an edge, stretching it slightly and folding it over. Work your way around the entire ball of dough, with the stretched edges meeting in the middle. Carefully flip the dough over so the seam is on the bottom, then cover this with a damp cloth and let it rise for at least another half hour.
While the dough is rising, put the Dutch oven in the regular oven and preheat to 450 F. Make sure the Dutch oven is in there for at least 10-20 minutes so it gets good and hot all the way through.
Remove the Dutch oven, carefully toss the dough in, cover, and put back in the regular oven. Be careful, it’s all really hot, so don’t try to pick up the lid without protection.
Bake for about 30 minutes. There should be a nice crust on there already, but if you want it darker, you can remove the lid and keep it in the oven for another 10 minutes.
Let it cool, then slather it up with lots of butter.