Let me introduce you to Janus.
Janus is my sourdough.
He lives in my fridge, waits to be fed once in a while and pays me back with huge culinary joys.
You don’t have to feel intimidated by sourdough.
I also was, because I was afraid that it would have needed too much care. Now that I have one, I must say that it is indeed very easy to keep, even if you don’t bake every week or travel a lot.
You’ll just need to feed it once every two or three weeks. That’s it.
I’m going to write a post about how to create your sourdough from scratch and how to let it live happy and active for as long as you want.
I heard about over 100 years old sourdoughs, which is so fascinating!
Mine is three years old now, and I couldn’t live without him.
I love playing with different flours and hydrations, and I feel every time the magic of an ancient gesture, extraordinary and simple at once.
And of course, I love sourdough bread.
Now, do you really think I could bake a sourdough bread loaf let’s say on a Wednesday, with the long rising times and manual work that it needs? Starting maybe the day before and going through pre-doughs, kneading, folding and several risings? And all this with a full-time job?
. . . . Yes, I would!!!
Indeed, the first weeks after Janus was born, I did it many times.
I was so excited by this powerful blob created from scratch by mixing just water and flour.
So for a while at least once a week I woke up at 6, went to bed at 1:00 and things like that…
Until I started feeling slightly ridiculous!
While I was looking for an alternative recipe with long rising times and as less manual work as possible, I stumbled upon the famous No-Knead Bread of Jim Lahey.
. . . HA! No way!! Bread needs time, passion, and sacrifice! I will never do something like this!!!
Until, one day I tried it, replacing the yeast with my sourdough Janus.
Honestly, what you get is astonishing, considering that you do almost nothing!
This is the bread I bake more often during the week, as it is marvelously compatible with my working times.
Well, the entire process does last about 24 hours, but it consists of a few short and elementary operations. Basically, it is nothing else than long autolysis (self-digestion). Instead of working with the hands or a kneading machine, we let the time and the chemistry work for us.
And the result will surprise you.
NO-KNEAD SOURDOUGH BREAD
For a loaf of about 1 Kg
- 200 gr strong (high gluten) flour
- 100 gr re-milled durum wheat flour (very fine durum wheat flour)
- 100 gr whole spelt flour
- 100 gr whole rye flour
- 390 gr cold water
- 70 gr freshly fed sourdough (see step 1)
- 12 gr salt
- 1 teaspoon of malt (optional)
1. Feed your sourdough:
Take out your jar of sleeping sourdough from the fridge and put 25 grams in a small bowl. Mix them with 25 grams of water and 25 grams of flour. Combine well with a spoon, cover and let it rest in the (turned off) oven or a pantry for about 5 to 8 hours, depending on the room temperature.
2. Make the dough:
Your fed sourdough will look alive, happy, and spongy by now. Transfer 70 gr of it into a big bowl and add the 390 gr of water and the malt. Mix well with a spoon. Add also the flours and the salt and mix all together quickly with the spoon for no more than 30 seconds. The mixture has to look lumpy. Cover and let it rest for 8 to 12 hours until doubled in size. You can prepare this mixture before going to work to find it ready in the evening when you are back.
3. Form the loaf:
It’s time to form your bread. Flour a working surface (I use durum wheat flour) and pour the dough on it. It’s going to be very sticky but resist the temptation to knead it with more flour.
Just fold it quickly 4 times until you get a rectangle, like this:
Now give it the form you wish.
For a round loaf pull and fold the 4 corners toward the center, for a long loaf just roll it up.
Transfer the dough into a 20 cm ø rising basket or a bowl or a baking form covered by a well-floured cotton towel. Flower also the surface of the dough, cover with another cotton towel and let it rise again for 2 to 4 hours in a warm place until doubled in size.
4. Bake it:
Put a Dutch oven or a stainless steel pot with its lid in the oven and preheat to 230°C (445°F). The lid is crucial to keep the humidity in the pot and let the bread develop. Once the oven reached the temperature, take out the pot, slide your hand under the cloth and with a quick movement, turn the dough over into the hot pot. Put the lid on and put it back in the oven.
Every oven is different, but the idea is to start with a very high temperature and humidity and progressively decrease both. In my case:
20 minutes at 230°C (445°F), with the lid on
20 minutes at 220°C (445°F), remove the lid
15 minutes at 200 (390°F), place the bread directly on the oven grid
10 minutes at 190 (375°F), oven’s door semi-open (I use a wooden spoon to keep it open)
5. Let it cool down completely
Transfer the loaf on a cooling rack and let it cool completely in a standing position (place the loaf against a wall or another vertical support). In this way, the heat and humidity inside will find their way through the sides of the loaf, and your crust will remain crispy.
You can, of course, change the mix of flours; this in the recipe is simply my favorite.
Here is how I manage to bake this bread also during the week:
The evening before: I feed my sourdough and go to sleep.
Morning early: I make the dough and then go to work. (it takes 5 minutes)
Evening at around 19.00: I form the loaf and have dinner while it rises.
Evening at around 21.30: I bake it and let it cool down overnight.