Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday are baking days here, and they are turning into the highlights of my week. I am having so much fun learning about bread and what makes it awesome. This weekend’s adventure was no-knead sourdough. No-knead bread is kind of great, for obvious reasons. It takes about 10 minutes of actual work, and the dough does the rest. There is a lot of water in no-knead breads, so once it’s stirred together you can let it sit overnight while the yeast make bubbles which slooowwwwly stretch the dough and give it the same effect as kneading.
I tried making traditional rye bread a while back and was honestly underwhelmed. In spite of adding molasses and caraway, the recipe I used didn’t have much flavor. This bread, on the other hand? Holy cow. It’s pretty sour, but the deliciousness of rye and caraway isn’t lost…not at all. And if that’s not enough to sell you on this bread, the crust is great – a little brown and crispy crackly and pretty much fantastic. Jeth isn’t a crust guy (more for me!), and he even likes it. I made my loaf with unfed sourdough starter, just to see how it would work, and it rose with no problems – maybe just taking a little longer than if I’d used fed starter. And if you don’t have sourdough starter, a little yeast will work just as well; the long rise should help give the bread a bit of extra flavor, at least.
The only catch is, you’ll need a dutch oven. Or a pyrex bowl with a lid, or anything that will hold up to a 500 degree oven, really. You could do without but the dutch oven is really the magic-maker in this recipe.
No-knead Sourdough Rye
Based on the genius of Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Bakery
2 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour*
1 c. rye flour
1/4 c. sourdough starter, fed or unfed (or 1/4 t. instant yeast)
1 1/2 c. water
1 1/2 t. honey
1 1/2 t. kosher salt (table salt is fine, too, just use a little less)
2 t. caraway seeds
If you are using unfed, straight-from-fridge sourdough starter, set it out for about 30 minutes before making dough. Mix all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the honey, starter, and water (gradually, until the dough pulls together into a wet dough). It will look like a shaggy mess. This is ok! It should be stiff enough to form a very sticky ball that will spread back out when it is relaxed.
Cover it with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature for 12-20 hours. My starter is very vigorous and the dough doubled in about 12 hours, but depending on your starter and kitchen temperature, it could take longer. The dough should puff up (hopefully double) and will be very bubbly when it is ready.
Flour your work surface, and gently turn the dough out. A wet hand makes scooping out the bowl so much easier. Before you do anything else, take a good smell of the dough! I love the smell of bread dough, especially sourdough. It changes so much from when it’s mixed to the time it’s fully risen. Mine smelled decently sour and almost a little olive-y (?). Without deflating the dough too much, fold the edges in and pinch them to form a ball.
Let the dough rise on a well floured towel or parchment paper. You could also let the dough rise in a towel/parchment lined bowl, which will give it a little more height. After 1-2 hours, the dough should have fully risen. If you poke the side of it with a floured finger and the dent doesn’t spring back right away, it’s ready.
During the last 45 minutes of the second rise, preheat the oven (with your dutch oven or other baking dish inside) to 500 degrees. Once the dough is done rising, gently transfer it to the preheated container, quickly put the lid on and return it to the oven. My dough rose in parchment paper, so I lifted the whole thing (paper included) into the dutch oven. If you used a towel, just flip the dough out of the towel and into the dutch oven. Looking back, I wish I’d slashed the loaf before baking it, but oh well. Bake the bread at about 500 degrees for 30 minutes, then remove the lid. Reduce the heat to 450 and bake for 15-20 minutes more, until it sounds hollow when tapped. To keep the crust crackly, turn the oven off, crack the door, and let the bread cool inside the oven for at least 30 minutes. And as usual, wait to cut into the bread until it’s room temperature. If you don’t love this bread as much as we do…well, you can just send it our way!
*To match my proportions, I suggest spooning the flour into your measuring cup and then using a knife or spatula to level it off. If not, you may need to add a little extra water.