Very moist 100% whole wheat no-knead sourdough, only flour + water + salt!

Very moist 100% whole wheat no-knead sourdough, only flour + water + salt!

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August 2011
I baked for the third time.

Did you know kneading is unnecessary?

This blew my mind. Kneading was important. It was for... "building up the gluten" so it could hold the carbon dioxide given off by the yeast to make bread fluffy.

Turns out you can just make your batter wet (more water), and let it sit for several hours, and that will achieve the same thing. It seems to have started here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html interviewing Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery whose recipe is here: http://www.sullivanstreetbakery.com/recipes

A couple years later the journalist came up with a way to do it in 4 hours: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/08/faster-no-knead-bread/

Also, I tried using my sourdough starter for the first time (cultured from only whole wheat flour + tap water). So no added / baker's / instant yeast.

My recipe was mostly based on this: http://penniwisner.com/no-knead-bread-and-whole-grain-variations/ (personal sized loaf)
That had the no-knead + sourdough, but not the 100% whole wheat. That person said they didn't like to go over 40% whole grain, but did provide the useful tip that whole grain requires more water. The recipe was for 80% hydration (80% as much water as flour by weight). As I was mixing, I ended up going with 100% hydration. The consistency seemed about right. So in the end:

283 grams whole wheat flour
283 grams water
3 grams / 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 ounce sourdough starter or 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
(I used starter, and a lot more than this said... still working on that.)

Wait 24 hours, pour into oven safe container with lid, wait 1 hour, bake till it's bread.

The secret to moisture (and part of the no-knead thing) is a lid! I just left the lid on the whole time (until 10 minutes after I pulled it out of the oven), since I'm not into crusts (yet). I used two of my Calphalon Tri-Ply pots, which are only oven safe up to 450°F.

I ended up waiting... 3 days. For the first batch to rise, and it never really did. 2 days for the second batch. And adding a bunch more starter to both. I think the lack of rise I was getting was again due to the 60°F ambient temperature. I really need to get a measuring bucket so I can better judge the rise. I After I poured them both into pots, I let them rise for 2 hours. I was pretty... pessimistic.

But then I put the second batch in the oven (cold), turned it up to 450°F, left it for half an hour, and oven spring like whoa. It turned out perfect.

I put the first batch in at 250°F, to see if it would rise more if I cooked it slower. I didn't notice as much oven spring, but I guess that's because the pot was just too wide. Turned it up to 425°F out of impatience. It turned out about the same.

Amazing how moist bread can be if you put lots of water in, and then keep it in with a freaking lid.

Another idea I liked, to get sandwich / toast shaped loaves, was to bake bread in regular bread pans inside a turkey pot with some water in it. I'm also curious about bread pans with lids.

I really need to get a thermometer to measure the internal temperature so I can properly tell when they're done.
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