Sourdough Review - the no-fuss, no-knead approach. But does it work?

This is part of a series of 'worked examples'. I've taken a particularly interesting recipe, either from YouTube© or from a printed source and worked it through. You  may see a few 'pressure points' where I've had to consider alternatives or make some sort of allowance for factors that were not immediately apparent. 

'Culinary Exploration' is a Facebook page and YouTube© channel that celebrates good food and 'banging' recipes. One such is the 'No-knead' Basic Sourdough. 

Here's the link to the YouTube presentation: 

One has to be careful with the term 'Basic'. Some people interpret it as 'rudimentary' or 'fundamental'...there's a degree of 'simplicity' in the meaning and interpretation 

The more expereienced baker might well pass this recipe by on their way to more 'complicated' techniques and approaches. 

They'd be ill-advised to do so. This is a sourdough recipe that uses 'basic' ingredients. It advocates the use of the flour we can all buy from out local store or supermarket. And that, in my opinion is a good thing. 

Let me explain.

Bread is.....well, bread! It's what we go to for toast, sandwiches or for something to have with a bowl of soup or a slice of meat or cheese. There is a real need for the 'daily loaf', le pain quotidien. It has to be made in an easily manageable way within a daily routine. It has to be made without fuss, without it needing a marathon of effort and it has to return consistently good results, time after time - whatever the weather!

There will be those times when you want to coil, laminate, stretch and fold hour after hour. There may be a time when you sacrifice the family cockerel to the gods of Bulk Fermentation and Overnight Proofing in the hope that your bread rises with all the majesty and beauty of a Botticelli painting. 

Let's save those for another day. Today, it's all about easy returns. It's about 'wins under your belt'. Most of all, it's about assured success. The 'go-to' recipe when you haven't the time to fuss, ponder or worry.

So, let's get started. I've doubled the recipe to make two loaves. I'll divide the dough at the end of bulk fermentation. Of course, you can halve these quantities right from the start, if you so wish. 

Please note - from here on in I'm interpreting the YouTube© presentation. 


495 gms filtered water (or own-brand bottled still water)

24 gms sea salt

750 gms strong bread flour (mine ownbrand at 12.7% protein - I buy it from a well-known German supermarket)

256 gms active starter. 

I refreshed my starter at 8 p.m. last night and started baking at 7 a.m. this morning. It's a starter made from rye flour and water at 1:1 ratio. I made enough for today's baking and for some to be returned to the fridge for next time. As you can see, it has doubled in volume overnight at 19⁰C with the Kilner jar lid closed and the seal in place. Contrary to what you will read on various Facebook didn't explode and we didn't need to evacuate the area. 

The ingredients above return a 70.8% hydration. (311 total water as a % of 439 total flour)


Stage 1

Into a large bowl, I mixed the starter, the water and the saly. 

I added the flour and formed into a 'clump' (from clympe - a wonderful Old English word for 'lump' or 'mass')

This was covered and left at room temperature for TWO hours. (My kitchen tends to be between 19⁰C without the heating on and 21⁰C when heated)

Stage 2

Tip the dough out onto a board. You may want to mist the board first but please try and avoid adding any extra flour. 

Pull the dough together into a rough ball. 

Then, gently, tease out the sides and the top and the bottom until you have a rough rectangle of dough. Fold in the sides over ⅓ from right to left and then from left to right. Then repeat bottom to top and top to bottom. 

Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave for 4 - 5 hours. 

Stage 3

Gently coax the dough out onto a board. I tend to flour the board with rice flour. It doesn't 'add' to the flour content of the dough and it makes working with the dough a little easier. 

Separate the dough into two equal parts (by eye is fine) and gently encourage the dough into a ball shape by bringing in the edges towards the middle. 

Turn the dough seamside down and gently draw it across the worktop towards you, so increasing the tension on the surface of the dough. 

Repeat with the other piece of dough. 

Leave both boules to rest for five minutes. 

Gently coax them back to their original round shape and so increase the tension yet again. Be careful not to handly them rough;y. There's a lot of gas in the dough that we want to keep. 

Transfer the dough into a very well-floured banneton, smooth side down. (Again, I flour liberally with erice fllour, ensuring that it reaches down the side of the dough to prevent it sticking to the banneton. My bannetons are so well floured these days, they've become ''stick-proof'')

This is where 'Culinary Exploration' and I have different routines. I need to wait until tomorrow to bake, so I'm covering my bannetons with shower caps and popping them into the fridge at 5⁰C for about 16 hours. They'll be fine...the cold will retard the dough and they'll just develop even more flavour. 

Stage 4

It's just after 5 a.m. The ovens an ceramic cloches are pre-heating to 240⁰C. The dough is out of the fridge and resting on the worktop. 

I gently tip the dough onto a baker's peel on which I laid a homemade bread sling...cut from a silicone baking sheet and carefully dust the surface of the dough, brushing away the excess flour. 

A confident score and straight into a hot cloche. Lid on and turn the heat down to 230⁰C for 30 minutes. 

Then, lid off and leave it for a further 25 minutes to develop crust and colour. The internal temperature will be as near to 100⁰C as possible before it's taken out of the oven and allowed to cool on a rack. 

So? What's the verdict? 

I think it's a matter of routine. The loaves have risen..after all, sourdough often rises not quite as well as yeasted breads, but I just wonder whether I'd have been better scheduling them to go into the oven on Day 1, rather than retarding them overnight? 

I'll have a think......


Happy Baking....


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