3.02.2012

Sourdough Bread in Five Minutes a Day


Sourdough bread can be one of the most complicated things you do in your kitchen, or it can be one of the simplest. I vote for option B. Want to know how?

You've probably heard of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I laughed when I first heard about this book. I thought it was a joke. But they don't really mean five minutes total. They mean five minutes of hands on time. The basic premise it this:

1) You mix up a big batch of high-moisture, no-knead dough.
2) You keep it in the fridge, waiting for whenever you need it over the course of several days.
3) When you want to bake a loaf, you pull off a hunk of dough, shape it into a loaf, let it rise for a bit, and bake it.

You can do this the same exact way with sourdough, provided you have a happy starter going. The only difference is that you are using sourdough starter instead of commercial yeast when you mix your dough. Here's how you do it:

Sourdough Bread in Five Minutes A Day

Yield: 3-4 small to medium loaves. This recipe is easily doubled.

Ingredients:
3 c. filtered water
1.5 c. active sourdough starter (fed within the last 8 hours, ideally)
1-1.5 T. sea salt (depending on how salty you like your bread)
up to 6.5 cups flour (I start with one cup of unbleached flour, and use whole wheat for the rest)

Method:
1. In a large container or bowl that will fit in your refrigerator, stir together water, sourdough starter, and sea salt.

2. Add flour, one cup at a time, stirring as you go with a wooden spoon or your hands (messy, but efficient!). Don't add too much flour; you want the dough to be fairly wet. Don't knead it, just stir until the flour is incorporated.

3. Put it in the fridge, covered but not tightly sealed, for a day or so.

4. When you want to bake, sprinkle some unbleached white flour over the surface of the dough and pull off a hunk of dough about the size of a small melon. Shape it into a rough round and place it on a piece of parchment paper. (I put the parchment on my pizza peel for easy loading onto my pizza stone. A rimless cookie sheet would work too.) Rub the top of the loaf with a little unbleached flour.

5. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes to two hours. (I've left it much longer and it's been fine.) It might spread out a lot, but it will still taste good.

5. Preheat the oven to 400 or 450 degrees F, with a pizza stone on the top rack (if you have one) and a rimmed cookie sheet or broiler pan on the bottom rack. Let it preheat for a good 30 minutes before baking.

6. Bring a cup or two of water to a boil. Slash the loaf with a sharp knife in an X shape or diagonally.

7. Load the bread (and parchment) on the pizza stone, or bake on a cookie sheet. Pour the boiling water into the pan you placed on the bottom rack and shut the oven door. (The steam will make the crust nice and crusty.)

8. Bake until the crust is brown but not burnt, and the loaf feels firm when you push on it. (This usually takes 45 minutes to an hour for me, depending on the size of the loaf.)

9. Let cool at least partially, slice, and eat! To keep the crust crisp, store the bread on a cutting board, cut side down, covered with a clean kitchen towel. Or for convenience (but a softer crust), slice the whole thing and place it in a bread bag.

10. Repeat steps 4-9 anytime you want to bake a loaf, over the course of 5 days. When you run out, mix up another batch right away for an endless supply of delicious sourdough bread! (That way you don't have to wash the container.)



Have you ever tried this method? What do you think?

This is part of Fight Back Friday.

12 comments:

  1. thank you! i am so excited i found your post!

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  2. Trying this out tonight...can't wait to see the results! It would be really helpful if there were more pictures of the process. I'm not sure exactly "wet" the dough should be. Oh well...I guess I'll just have to wait and see how things turn out. Thanks for the recipe!

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    1. I'll work on that! I just add flour until it gets hard to mix it in. If you're working hard, you're probably adding too much. Hope that helps!

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  3. Thanks! Well, I tried it but the dough didn't rise at all. Any ideas where I went wrong?

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    1. I'm sorry your dough didn't rise! Did you let it rise after pulling it out of the fridge? You can also let it rise in a bowl covered with a tea towel to prevent it spreading out so much. The last time I made this it didn't rise much either, but I think it's because I had neglected my sourdough starter a bit. If you have a very active starter, it should be fine. Let me know how it goes if you try again, I'd love to add peoples tips to the post!

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    2. Maybe neglect was my issue. I had fed it within the 8 hours prior to making it, but before that I had neglected it a bit. This is definitely a recipe I want to give another chance or two! =D

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    3. Good luck if you try it again! :)

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  4. I have to admit - flat as it was, the taste was superb! My husband was impressed as well! I think I'll put it in a round casserole dish next and see if that works out a little better. Any other ideas?

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  5. Hi Joanna! I keep making this recipe because the bread tastes so good but I can't get it to rise to save my life! It's practically a pancake! What am I doing wrong?

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    1. Lisa, I'm so sorry it's not rising for you! I have that problem from time to time, and I think it's when my started has been a bit neglected. I would say make sure it's really active and bubbly, and feed it often before making this recipe. Also, you can let it rise in a bowl lined with a tea towel so it doesn't spread, and then carefully invert it onto a peel lined with parchment. Please let me know if any of those suggestions work - I'd love to update with reader tips!

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  6. Adding some rye flour (1/4 to 1/2 of the flour called for) to the sourdough starter when you are making the starter will help with the bubbly effect in your starter and also you can add 1 tsp or so of yeast (depends on the type used) to your dough to get it to rise better. You will have to knead it in though, another minute or two of labor but worth it for a bit more rise.

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