Sourdough Maintenance & no-knead bread recipe

You have a mature sourdough culture. Now what!?

In order to bake with your starter it needs to be fed every 12 hours leading up to the time you begin to prepare your recipe. Find a schedule that works for you. Maybe you feed it after breakfast and then again after dinner. Mostly, it is important to be observant of your sourdough. Feeding a sourdough starter at it’s peak (right before it runs out of food) will keep it strong and healthy. Look for activity in your starter. It should be rising as the yeast eats and falling as the bubbles begin to break. Don’t fret if you find your starter has separated if you’re storing it long term. Just stir and keep feeding and you should be able to bring it back to life. It’s best to use the starter 6-12 hours after feeding, when it’s most active.

Feeding (every 12 hours):

  • Discard all but 100 grams of starter or use the starter to be discarded in another recipe.
  • Add: 100 g warm water + 100 g bread flour. Stir until smooth and there are no lumps of dry flour
  • Store: Place in clear quart container (or use the one that came with your starter) and mark the starting level with a rubber band or tape so you can gauge how the starter is rising and falling. Keep starter at least at 70 degrees F

Long-term storage:

Refrigeration: The yeast must be fed regularly to keep it alive and healthy. If feeding twice daily is a bit much for your schedule or flour supply, there are other options for longer term storage so you can have it available when you’re ready to bake. If you you only plan to use your starter once every week or so, you can store it in the fridge and feed it as outlined above once every week to keep it active. Just make sure to bring it back to room temperature about 2-3 days (with daily feeding) before you use it. This will ensure it’s active and happy before your bake.

Freezing: Freezing might be more appropriate if you are a more occasional sourdough baker (using the starter only once every couple months) or if you won’t be able to maintain it for an extended period of time.  You may also want to save a little extra starter “just in case”. This could give you a backup plan if things don’t work out with your active starter. To freeze, simply place your active starter in the freezer in a tightly sealed container. The yeast will go dormant and will not require any feeding while frozen. But due to the much colder temperature, you may want to allow your yeast a full week of room-temp feeding to bring it back to life before you bake.

If you are an experienced sourdough baker you can use this starter in any of your favorite recipes. If you are just trying out sourdough for the first time this recipe is a great place to start.

Simple No-knead Sourdough Recipe 

Instead of kneading, this dough is developed by stretching and folding the dough during a long fermentation.

This recipe can be prepared with a starter that was fed 6-12 hours earlier.

Ingredients

  • 406 grams Bread Flour
  • 320 grams warm water (80 degrees)
  • 102 grams sourdough starter
  • 8 grams salt

Combine

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Mix by hand (it’s important to feel the texture of the dough at all stages.) until all ingredients are combined and there are no lumps of dry flour. This mix will look a little rough and shaggy.
  • Rest for 30 minutes in a warm spot (75-80 degrees).

Fold 

  • Using a wet hand (to prevent sticking) scoop your hand under one side of the dough still in the bowl. Stretch the dough up as far as it will go with out breaking and fold it back onto itself. Turn the bowl one quarter turn and repeat three more times.
  • Set your timer for 1 hour and return the dough to its warm spot. Repeat this process 2 more times for three total folds.
  • Observe: You should see a big difference in your dough at the end of your stretching and folding. The dough will be more elastic and airier and should be increased in volume. If you don’t see these changes try stretching and folding your dough a few more times.
  • Rest for one hour

Shaping 

  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface
  • Use both hands to shape the dough into a nice round by “pulling” it across the counter to creae tension on the surface of the dough. The tension will create a smooth surface which will assist in creating an even rise.
  • Lightly flour, cover and rest for 30 minutes.

Shaping  

  • Line a round bowl or basket with a flour sack dish towel and dust with flour to prepare it to receive the dough
  • Flip dough over
  • Stretch bottom edge of dough toward you and fold onto itself 2/3 of the way
  • Stretch dough horizontally and fold left and right sides into the center
  • Return to bottom edge of dough and roll it all the way to the top, flipping the whole thing over
  • Tuck ends under to create a nice round shape
  • Flip dough upside down and place into your towel-lined basket (seam-side up)
  • Pinch seam to create a seal and prevent the dough from falling open
  • Cover for fermentation

Fermentation/Proofing

  • Option 1: Rest/proof dough at room temp. for 3-4 hours
  • Option 2: Rest/proof dough at room temp. for 1 hour, then place in fridge for 8-12 hours for a slow proof. Slow proofing adds flavor and offers flexibility if you’re not ready to bake immediately

Baking

  • Place a large dutch oven with a lid in the oven and preheat to 500 F
  • Place a piece of parchment paper (not wax paper) onto a cutting board and use this to gently flip your dough out of its bowl or basket
  • With a very sharp knife cut four slashes in the shape of a square on top of the dough
  • Remove the dutch oven from the oven and take the lid off. Use the parchment paper to lift your loaf and gently place it inside the dutch oven. Be careful with these steps since the dutch oven will be extremely hot.
  • Place the lid back on the dutch oven and return the whole thing into the oven.
  • Bake for 20 minutes
  • Remove lid from dutch oven, lower temp. to 450 F
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes. How to tell if it’s done: Loaf should be deep golden brown. Thump the bottom of the loaf with your thumb; it should sound hollow. Internal temperature of bread should be around 190 F. If in doubt, let it go 5 more minutes. Slighly over-baked is better than under-baked.
  • Cool: By far the hardest part of baking is letting the loaf cool on a rack for an hour. The wonderful smell of bread will be filling your home, but you must resist the urge to cut into the loaf until it’s fully cooled. This will optimize the flavor and texture of the final loaf

Enjoy!

  • Slice, butter, salt and enjoy the fruits of your labor.