A couple of years ago, food writer Mark Bittman wrote an article in the New York times about a remarkable bread that was so simple you could mix the dough with a spoon, you didn’t have to knead it and it could live in the refrigerator for a couple of days where it would magically knead itself and develop the kind of wonderful flavor that really good artisan sourdough bread has but it required such easily available ingredients as instant yeast and regular bread flour. This amazing bread could be baked in a dutch oven! This article took the Blogosphere by storm. Bloggers everywhere were baking up loaves of this remarkable “no knead bread”. Both seasoned bakers and neophytes were singing the praises of this remarkable bread. Le Cruset must have made boatloads of money selling dutch ovens to rabid no knead bread bakers. Recipes evolved faster than viruses. Books were written about the subject and sold like hotcakes.
At that time a girl named Mimi was just starting to discover her first food blogs. She entertained the notion that she might want to be a food writer too. She started to read everywhere about this amazing no knead bread. She wasn’t sure what the hype was. She already owned a bread machine, a standing mixer and a food processor. All of these machines alleviated her from chores such as kneading bread. Besides. No knead bread called for commercial yeast. This girl wanted to be a sourdough baker.
Fast-forward two years. That gal named Mimi has a food blog and is a pretty decent sourdough baker now. She is also searching everywhere for healthy recipes. She buys the February copy of Eating Well magazine and sits entranced, as she reads about someone’s amazing no knead breads. These recipes are so different now! All of the recipes she sees in this magazine are so delicious looking. Her mouth begins to water, as she contemplates actually making a no knead bread, thus becoming possibly the last person in the blogosphere to attempt to make no knead bread.
The recipe that really caught her attention was something called Everyday Whole-Wheat Bread. The recipe is for a loaf that is over half whole-wheat but fortified with bulghur, wheat germ and honey. The gal had just received bread pans for Christmas and this was not your usual bake it in a dutch oven bread, so she was excited to give her new equipment a test run. But wait! She does not own commercial yeast. Could she possibly make this bread with sourdough starter instead? Yes. Yes she could. And… it was extremely good.
I am submitting this great recipe to this week’s YeastSpotting on Wild Yeast.
Sourdough whole-wheat no knead bread
Adapted from Everyday Whole-Wheat bread in the February issue of Eating Well magazine
¼ cup bulgur
1/3 cup boiling water
2 ½ cups plus up to 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour
1 ½ cups unbleached white flour
2 tbsp toasted wheat germ
1 ¾ tsp salt
½ cup well fed sourdough starter
1 ½ cups room temperature water
¼ cup mild honey
3 tbsp olive oil
Stir bulgur and boiling water together in a medium bowl. Let stand 15-20 minutes until the bulgur absorbs all of the water. After the bulgur soaks up all the water mix in the additional 1 ½ cups water, honey, sourdough starter and oil.
In a large bowl, combine 2 ½ cups whole-wheat flour, all of the white flour, wheat germ and salt.
Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. Use a wooden spoon or some other sturdy implement to mix the dough well. The dough should be moist and a little sticky. If you feel like it is too dry and won’t mix, add a little water. If you feel like it is too wet, add a bit of flour. Mine turned out just right. Lightly coat the top of the bread with oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 12-18 hours. (I left it overnight and it worked out to 19 ½ hours, the dough was fine). Refrigerate the dough for 3-12 hours before starting the second rise.
Generously coat a bread pan with oil. (The original recipe suggested a 9”x5” pan. I used a 10”x5” pan and it was adequate). Stir the dough to deflate it. Transfer the dough to the bread pan. Lightly coat the top with oil and then press the dough into the pan, making sure to get it into the corners, with a spoon or your fingertips. Dust the top of the bread with between 1 tsp –1 tbsp of whole-wheat flour. Using a lame’ or a sharp knife, cut a ½” deep slash down the length of the loaf. Cover the pan with plastic wrap. Allow the loaf to rise for up to 4 hours. It should get to the top of the pan. Uncover and let it continue to rise for a few more minutes while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bake the bread for 55-60 minutes. Cover the loaf with foil and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes. You can test for doneness by inserting an instant read thermometer to look for an internal temperature of 205 degrees. Alternatively, insert a skewer into the loaf; it should come out fairly clean with just a few crumbs.
Remove the bread from the oven and place it on a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes. Turn the loaf out of the pan (you may need to run a knife around the edges of the pan) and allow the bread to continue to cool until it is at least warm if not cool to the touch.
Makes one large loaf, approximately 14 slices.