Insider tip: This week’s Dinner in Minutes is one you gotta try. Check out the recipe for Greek Millet Saganaki With Shrimp, tested by Bonnie Benwick (and tasted by me) and put together in just 35 minutes. It’s a keeper.
And speaking of recipe testing, if you’ve ever wondered why we do it, read Tim Carman’s story about newspaper testing policies and how the sagging economy might affect them. Also in today’s Food, two ways to cope with the limitations of winter produce: great ideas for citrus fruit and frozen vegetables. Finally, read how Web sites are helping people coordinate gifts of food for friends who need an extra hand during tough times.
The no-knead bread method usually involves a very slow rise or proof. It seems to me this would be a perfect venue for using sourdough starter instead of regular yeast, but I have not seen recipes for this. Can you direct me to any? To be clear, I want a recipe leavened only with sourdough starter, not with other yeast added. And I would prefer to have the option of baking it in a loaf pan, not a round loaf in a Dutch oven. (But I’d give up the loaf pan if the sourdough round loaf is worth it.)
Ah, sourdough. A topic that has been dear to my heart ever since I had to create a starter and then keep it alive and thriving in order to test a pancake recipe. It was quite an experience; I blogged about it here.
But no-knead breadmaking — not my area of expertise. So we sent your question to cookbook writer Nancy Baggett, who blogs at kitchenlane.com and who happens to be a no-knead expert.She sent you an answer — and a recipe to try. Here’s her response:
I have a sourdough recipe in my book “Kneadlessly Simple” (Wiley, 2009) and it works very well and taste quite good. It involves substituting starter for some of the water that is normally mixed up with the dough. My recipe also calls for a little commercial yeast, which helps ensure that the bread rises nicely in addition to tasting like sourdough. The long, slow first rising period allows the dough to both self-knead and become a bit sour. The loaf is baked in a covered Dutch oven and comes out wonderfully crusty. I have not tried to adapt the recipe to baking in a loaf pan, but it probably could be done. Good luck!
San Francisco-Style Sourdough Bread
As purists will immediately note, my recipe does veer off the traditional path in incorporating a little commercial baking yeast. (Some sourdough devotees consider this a capital offense.) I haven’t found that it affects the desired sour flavor, and it’s a sensible, convenient failsafe that guarantees success even if your starter doesn’t happen to be lively enough to fully lift the bread on its own.
3 1/2 cups (17.5 ounces) unbleached white bread flour or all-purpose white flour, plus more as needed
1 3/4 teaspoons plain table salt
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon “rapid rise,” “quick-rise,” “bread machine” or “instant” yeast (use the larger amount if substituting yogurt and vinegar for sourdough starter; see below)
1 tablespoon corn oil, canola oil or other flavorless vegetable oil, plus more for coating dough top and pan
3/4 cup sourdough starter (or substitute 1/2 cup chilled plain “active culture” yogurt and 2 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar)
1 1/2 cups ice water (add 1 cup ice cubes to cold water and stir for 20 seconds before measuring), plus more if needed
First rise: In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. Whisk the oil and starter (or yogurt and vinegar) into the water. Vigorously stir the water mixture into the flour mixture, scraping down the sides and mixing just until the ingredients are thoroughly blended. If the mixture is too dry to incorporate all the flour, a bit at a time, stir in just enough more ice water to blend the ingredients; don’t over-moisten as the dough should be very stiff. If necessary, stir in enough more flour to yield a very hard-to-stir dough. Brush or spray the top with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. For best flavor, refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Then let rise at cool room temperature (about 70 degrees F) for 18-20 hours. If convenient, vigorously stir the dough once about halfway through the rise.
Second rise: Vigorously stir the dough, adding more flour as needed to yield a very stiff and hard-to-stir dough; let rest 10 minutes. Sprinkle the dough evenly with 3-4 tablespoons flour. Shape it into a ball; roll it in the flour until coated all over; then work in the flour until it holds its shape. Lightly dusting with flour as needed, press and smooth the dough into a high-domed 6-inch diameter round, shaping and tucking the edges under all the way around; work gently as the acid makes the dough tender and prone to tearing. Gently transfer the loaf to an oiled 3 1/2-4 quart Dutch oven or similar heavy oven-proof pot. Dust the loaf top with more flour, smoothing out evenly. Using a well-oiled serrated knife, make 3 or 4 parallel shallow cuts across the loaf top. Then, working on a diagonal cut 3 or 4 more lines diagonally across the first set to create a diamond pattern. Brush or spray the dough with oil. Cover the pot with its lid.
Let rise until the dough double from its deflated size using any of these methods: Stand at warm room temperature for a 1 1/2-2 1/2 hour regular rise; or in a turned-off microwave along with a cup of boiling hot water for a 1-2 1/2-hour accelerated rise. Or, for an extended rise, refrigerate, covered, 1-48 hours, then stand at room temperature until the dough doubles in size.
Baking preliminaries: Fifteen minutes before baking time, put a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Generously brush or spray the loaf with water.
Baking: Bake (lower rack), covered, for 55-60 minutes, or until the loaf is lightly browned and crusty. Uncover and continue baking, occasionally testing for doneness with a skewer inserted in the thickest part until it comes out with just a few particles on the end. Then bake 10-15 minutes more (or to 207-208 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer) to ensure the center is done. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn the loaf onto a rack; cool thoroughly.
Yield: 1 large loaf, 12 to 14 slices.