“Bucket bread”: a sourdough no-knead method

I blogged a long time ago about wanting to find a sourdough version of the New York Times no-knead bread, using whole wheat. Well, I never did manage to figure it out all by myself, but the GNOWFGLINS sourdough e-course has a version that I’ve been playing with.

Here is my (working) version of their recipe:

1 1/2 cups sourdough starter

1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt

3 cups water

6 1/2 cups (32.5 oz) whole wheat flour

Add your starter to a large container (your “bucket”) that can hold all of the dough in a risen state (2-3 times bigger than the initial dough). Add salt and water and stir until all is dissolved. Measure your flour in a separate bowl and have your preschooler add it to your bucket handful by handful as you stir. Incorporate all the flour–you will have to use your hands near the end, but it will be a wet dough, necessary for the no-knead/refrigerator method.

Once the dough is formed, keep it out on the counter for a few hours until the dough has started to rise, then transfer to the refrigerator. Keep the dough for minimum 12 hours and maximum 5 days before baking, to give it time to develop more flavour. As the dough sits in the fridge, the yeast, bacteria, and enzymes are all at work unravelling the starch molecules, releasing more flavour compounds, resulting in better tasting bread!

When it comes time to baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place a covered enameled cast iron dish inside. Cut off a hunk of dough and form into a boule, rounding the top so that it creates a taut skin over the surface. Here is a beautiful video demonstrating this technique, from my favourite baking master, Peter Reinhart. In the video he is working with a wet dough, similar to our dough.

Let the dough warm up and rise for about 30 to 60 minutes (I’m still playing with this timing–see what works for you). When you are confident that the boule has risen enough and that your oven is hot enough, take out the cast iron container and plunk in the boule, seam side up (essentially upside-down). Cover the container. This creates a moist environment to allow for a good “oven spring”. Alternatively, you can use a steam pan in your oven, or mist the sides of the oven with a spray bottle.

Bake for about 30 minutes covered. Then remove the cover and bake until the bread is finished baking. You may have to turn down the oven if the bread seems to be browning too much. Check for doneness by thumping the bottom–if it sounds hollow, you’re probably done. The bread should register 200 to 210 degrees on an instant read thermometer. This timing will depend on the size of your loaf, your flour, and the actual temperature your oven bakes at.

After that, let the bread cool, and enjoy! Let me know if you try it out. Like I said, I’m just starting to play with this recipe, but I do like the simplicity of it. The same method but with a dryer dough can be used to make crackers or other baked wonders.

I should also mention that when you make your next batch, you can use the same bucket, without washing it. Just hold back 1 1/2 cups of old dough and use that as your “starter”. You will probably want to keep back some of your old starter in its pure salt-free state, and keep it fed and fresh for other uses.

Also, if you want some starter, just let me know and I can either dry & send some to you, or share it fresh if you are in Ottawa. I always want to share the sourdough love!

Yay for bread!

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5 thoughts on ““Bucket bread”: a sourdough no-knead method

  1. YAY! I have been waiting for you to post this recipe! Naturally, I have a few questions.

    1. Can you post your method for starting/maintaining the starter? I have tried sourdough in the past with minimal success.

    2. Are you using flour that you’ve ground with your kitchenaid grinder? (I believe we both have the same one.) I have not had good luck making bread with the flour I grind myself; it just doesn’t get fine enough.

    3. About how many loaves will this make? Is this similar in amount to the 5-minutes a day bread recipes, like 3 small loaves or two big ones?

    4. Have you used this for pizza crust?

    One comment:
    I love the no-knead bake-in-a-dutch-oven breadmaking method. Use it all the time. So to upgrade to a sourdough would be awesome!

    Thanks in advance.

  2. I grew up with sourdough bread in Finland and would love to have the starter if it can be sent to States where I now live. I bake no-knead bread every week and although it’s a great substitute, nothing compares to good sourdough 😀 Thank you so much for sharing your sourdough love!

  3. If the offer is still open, I’d be interested in some starter, so I don’t have to start my own and wait for it to become vigorous enough to bake with. I live in Ottawa, and can come by centre-town a couple times a week… Email me and we can arrange a meeting time/place. Thanks a bunch!

  4. Pingback: 100% Rye | yum vee

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