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No Knead - bumbling my way to easy sourdough

I've been making no knead and it's been great. It is not a long lasting loaf but that is fine. The slightly stale bread is great toasted. Adding some whole wheat flour gives good flavor, adds shelf life, but does not equal the impressive texture of the all white, imo. My ppl love sourdough so I'd like to try. I can't keep up with the long discussions everywhere, so here is my attempt and help is welcome and needed at this point. I have no idea what I am doing.

First I did a no knead bread. I baked it off but I held back a small knob back to use as my 'cheater'

Next night, I took the small knob of no knead and used it with a 1/2 cup of flour and a 1/2 cup of water. I don't know why I used King Arthur Whole Wheat but I had it.

Since I did such a small amount of starter, I decided not to toss half. Instead I kept the initial batch and added one cup white and one cup water.

Next night it is smelling beery, I mixed and divided it. I kept the starter going by feeding a cup white flour and a cup water.

I took the extra cup and made it into the usual bread. I think it is rising too fast, after 6 hours, so I put it in the cold garage. I have no idea what percent to add. I just know that when and if I get a real starter I hope I know what I am doing.

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  1. if your bread is rising, then it sounds like a good starter is underway. The more you cut and feed it, the more personality it will take on... particularly if you started it with a yeasted bread, the more feedings you give it, the more it will become more like a traditional sourdough. Very cool... congrats.

    I've had a starter I started about 3 years ago. I love it. Great for pancakes, breads, waffles, crackers... everything!

    For a good overview on sourdough that shouldn't be too overwhelming, try the King Arthur site... they have some good info to get you started: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/tips/t... (though it sounds like you are already off to a good start).

    - Adam

    1 Reply
    1. re: adamclyde

      I'm curious, what are the proportions for your pancake and waffle recipes? If I was going to adapt a recipe I already have, would the start replace part of the liquid and flour, or an equal amount of flour...?

    2. I just baked the first loaf with the starter in it. I don't really know what I'm doing. Wasn't sure to make a sponge first or not but I kept it simple. I used a cup of the starter to 3 cups flour, 1-1/2 cup water and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. I had to then add extra flour because it was too wet. Still turned out to be a very wet dough and I had to sprinkle it with a lot of flour. The loaf is beautiful. I won't be tasting it until tomorrow but the batter and the loaf smell pleasantly beery. I thought it would take a bit longer to get a sour taste but we will see.

      I just dumped half the starter and fed the rest. Didn't want to make another loaf just yet. My starter is so active I am keeping it in the garage from now on to slow it down a bit. It threw a huge amount of liquid today before I stirred it down.

      1. The starter added a bit of tang, but not much. Probably too young. The disappointing thing is that the crust was tough and nearly inedible. This has never happened otherwise. So I'm reluctant to use it again. I've been feeding it so maybe one more try before dumping. I'm also really clueless about how much starter to use.

        1. Finally success. I think I started with about 3/4 - 1 cup starter, used 3 cups flour, scant 2 tsp kosher salt and 1-1/2 cups water.

          Last night's loaf had good sour aroma, a mild tang, a moist pleasant texture. And the crust was nice and crackling, not the tough one I had before. I think I'll keep the starter. Anyone in the SLO area want some I am pouring it off almost every day.

          1. Dear Coconutz. I have several times made a no-knead sourdough. I find it best to make the starter with the same proportion of flour to water as in the dough. It makes things easier that way: you don't have to adjust. Since 75% as much water as flour by weight seems to work well for me, it works out to 3 ounces of water to 4 ounces of flour. I weigh it to be sure. I make sure the starter is young and vigorous--refresh it several times if you aren't baking often with it. I add 1/4 cup of starter to the Lahey bread dough in place of yeast. From that point, you can follow the Lahey recipe. I get best results if I give it a somewhat longer fermentation than 12 hours. And I fold the dough twice in the course of the fermentation. Say I mix it at nine at night. Next morning when I get up, I fold it--usually around 5:30. Then around noon, I fold it again prior to shaping the loaf. You can fold it three times if you like. It strengthens the gluten, but your crumb will perhaps not be as open.

            I don't work for a real tangy flavor. I prefer a sourdough with a slightly cheesy flavor, although I am not sure that is the right word. It reminds me more of champagne. If you want a more sour flavor, after you shape the loaf, let it have its final rise in a somewhat warmer environment, but be careful you don't let it go too long. The warmer temperature favors the lactobacillus growth, so you get more tang. But the more tang to the bread, the weaker the gluten will be. So it is a trade off or a balancing act.

            I bake mine in a 10 1/2 inch unglazed terra cotta flower pot--the stubby kind called a "bulb pan." I use a terra cotta saucer as a lid. I pretreat my pots with shortening the first time, but several others have written in to say it is not necessary.

            Happy baking.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Father Kitchen

              Father Kitchen,

              Can you say more about a couple things...

              "...make the starter with the same proportion of flour to water as in the dough."

              "...I add 1/4 cup of starter to the Lahey bread dough in place of yeast."

              Do you take 1/4 cup of your starter or 1/4 cup of proofed sponge?