FRAUDULENT EASY SOURDOUGH

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A “SOURDOUGH STARTER”… HOLD THAT THOUGHT, LET ME TAKE AN ADVIL

IF a consistent, punctual biological clock is the indicator of good health and well-being, surprisingly as evidence suggests, I may live much longer than I expected.

On a daily basis, for past 2 decades, my body insists on living breathing sleeping and eating, in a strict and firm accordance with… the Parisian time-zone.  They say that your body is always trying to tell you things that you may not realize about yourself.  To that, I have no argument.  Then on a monthly basis, the beautiful reminder that I am, again, one-month-less away from entering menopause, always comes reassuringly and dependably… 10 days late.  Punctual in her own ways, she loves suspense and once in awhile, watching me peeing on sticks.  But here comes the part where I’m most proud of, a yearly reoccurrence, the kind that only wild animals who are most in tune with nature will demonstrate…

The pre-winter hair-shedding and my October flu.

OK, fine, maybe that sounded a little over-dramatic.  Maybe I just count the hairs on my pillow more nowadays as a sign of mid-life crisis, and instead of a full-blown flu, it’s more like a passive-aggressive, trickling but ever-flowing stream of runny nose.  The kind that is incompetent of granting me a whole week of in-bed movie-marathon, but at the same time, makes damn-well-sure that I look, walk and feel like a days-old, soggy unglazed donut.  So this year, in response to a seasonal time like this, a new behavioural pattern has emerged.  I bake breads.

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Post my bread-baking-phobia, I’ve since realized that it’s just one of those things that requires… no, demands minimal attention.  All a good dough ever wanted, like the October-me, is to lay low and expand.  And so it is at this particular time of the year, we are ever so synchronised and compatible.  I wobbled towards the window to the outside world sitting on my desk, decided it was a good time to introduce myself to a specifically tangy rustic bread that I’ve long been curious of.

Called sourdough.

Well… it was, I believe, 3 clicks into the outside world when I decided it was best to stay inside.  What… “sourdough starter”?  Who the fuck are you?  Trespassing is illegal and what did you do to my good, old friend Idy (instant dry yeast, hello!)?  Wait, whatever it is… hold that thought.  Let me take an Advil…

Just when I started reconsidering that movie-marathon my flu promised me, at the corner of my fraudulent eyes I saw a tub of plain yogurt sitting alone in all its trickery…  You know how they say, dead ends are… new streets or whatever?   I thought hey, maybe I’ll walk this way.  I mean why not?  Yogurts are used in plenty other “bread-named” thingys (for the life of me I can’t understand why they can’t just call them “cakes”), so why not actual actual breads?  I heard some yogurts are alive.  I heard they get up in room-temperature and do things to make themselves tangy.  Maybe, just maybe, they don’t mind making my bread tangy, too?  So I did, using the notoriously easy no-knead method, in the most productive manner a soggy donut could ask for… I baked a fake sourdough, with yogurt.

And it was a beautiful impostor.

Without surprise, the tested no-knead method yielded a golden browned crackling crust, with big and small air-bubbles within.  But most of all, it was deceivingly tangy, with a gentle and flavorful tartness that seeped in as you chew.  Any other clues that shouts yogurt, were muted during the baking process.  In fact, there was very little yogurt-flavour left, except for a subtle, mysterious tang.

It was my own Pretty Little Liar, too beautiful and perfect for all the things my yearly biological schedule wouldn’t allow me to do.  Bread-and-butter picnic in the park?  So last season.  Sourdough eggs benedict for Sunday brunch with friends?  You mean my Parisian friends?  Well, how about the deep winter swelling underneath a thick, thermo new-grown coat?

Well, that.  Yes.  Nothing can stop that…

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Let’s talk yogurt for a little bit.  It’s important to use a sharp and tangy yogurt for this recipe for the “sourdough” effect, but how do we control that?  I’m not, by any means, a yogurt or live culture specialist.  But I do know the “older” a live yogurt is (meaning the longer it cultivates at room-temperature), the more tart it tastes and thicker in consistency.  If you already make your own yogurt at home, you’d have no problem controlling the desired tartness and thickness of the yogurt.  But if you’re using store-bought like I do, choose a plain, unsweetened yogurt that contains pro-biotic/active live culture, with a nice tang to it.  If you find your store-bought yogurt not tangy enough, let it sit in your fridge for a few days as the bacterias will continue to grow, and makes the yogurt more tart and thick.

I’m making this bread roughly based on Jim Lahey’s dutch-oven-no-knead-bread recipe via New York Times.  I found that the loaf fermented for 18 hours, was tangier than the one fermented for 6 hours only.  But another loaf fermented for 24 hours got a little bitter.  So I would stay within the 18 hours range just to be safe.


CHEATER’S EASY SOURDOUGH

Ingredients

  • 3 cups (405 grams) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp (8 grams) salt
  • 1/4 tsp instant dry yeast (if fermenting for 18 hours), or 3/4 tsp instant dry yeast (if fermenting for 6 hours)
  • 1 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (385 grams) plain unsweetened yogurt containing active cultures

Instructions

  1. In a stand-mixer with dough-hook, or in a large bowl by hands, mix bread flour, instant dry yeast, salt and plain yogurt on medium-low speed for 2 min until a dough forms. If the dough is too dry and has difficulty coming together, add 1 tbsp more plain yogurt. If you'd like, continue to knead the dough on medium-low speed, or with your hands, for a few more minutes until springy. The dough should be very sticky, but able to retain shapes.
  2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment at room-temperature for 18 hours (NO MORE than 20 hours or the yogurt may spoil and become bitter!), or 6 hours depending on your schedule (note that the amount of yeast varies). The dough should almost doubled when finished.
  3. After fermentation, dust the counter with flour then transfer the dough on top. Use just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking, fold the dough gently (without crushing all the air bubbles inside) over itself like folding a letter. Turn 90 degrees and fold again. Then shape the dough into a ball-shape. Transfer to a piece of floured parchment paper, then cover a large bowl on top and let proof again for 1 ~ 2 hours. The dough is ready when it almost double in size again, and should not spring back when you press it with a finger.
  4. 45 minutes before the dough's ready, preheat the oven on 450F/225C with a large dutch oven, or a heavy-bottom pot (both should come with lid) inside. To bake the bread, lift the parchment paper to transfer the dough into the preheated pot, cover the lid and bake for 30 min. Then remove the lid, and bake until the crust is golden browned.
  5. Let cool on a rack for 20 min.
http://ladyandpups.com/2014/10/16/fraudulent-easy-sourdough/

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71 Comments

  • Just yesterday, I baked carrot bread rolls with curd yet I wouldn’t have come up with the idea of adding curd or yogurt to a sourdough! Dumb me. I’ve been totally obsessed with the no-knead method and am totally going to make your version soon! This weekend? Most probably.

  • This is incredible. You’re nothing short of genius, lady — and that perfect, crackly crust is just stunning. Hope you’re feeling better though! :(

  • I actually made it through the Aussie fall/winter without having sniffles at all. it must be all the sugar eh? ;) My bread love goes for beyond the constraints of the weather on yeast. Such a fab short cut to sourdough Mandy. That crust is perfect!

  • Living in a sourdough town, I have never had the compulsion to actually bake one. But your imposter looks so intoxicating, so crusty and so doable. Yogurt? Yup, got that. I need to get on this ritual.

  • I love everything about this recipe, including the title. I love anything that simplifies and de-mystifies the world of sourdough, which so many people steer clear of because of not understanding what it’s all about. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Mild lager beer substituted for the yogurt makes a wonderful no knead bread as well. Cooks illustrated version app on my iphone. Its my go to bread.

  • The bread looks really great, especially the crust! A couple of weeks ago I started my own sourdough (one all-purpose, one rye) but I will definitely try your cheater-sourdough-bread!
    Mandy, did you notice any difference in the outcome when kneading the dough by hand or by machine? (I only have my hands to use here ;-) And have you ever tried baking bread without pot or dutch oven? Because mine always seems to be on the dry side, even though I do the “ice-cube”-trick or brush the bread with water before baking it….

    • I made this dough once with machine and once by hand, but only kneaded it briefly until it became springy (obviously the machine gets there quicker). I don’t think there is that big of a difference in the bread, but the machine just saves effort and time. I really like the Dutch oven method because it kind of “steam” the dough first to create that crust. Brushing mater on the dough would dry off very quickly I think. Do you mean the interior of the bread is dry? I don’t think it has to do with the steam, but just the moisture of the dough itself.

      • My bread is dry on the outside, I meant the crust. Actually inside it is pretty nice and moist. I think I have to get an ovenproof pot or Dutch oven – hopefully I find a second-hand one. It seems such a waste moving to a country, leaving all your kitchen supplies at home (or at least the big ones, I even brought my wooden cooking-spoon to the US) and then, when moving back, getting rid of all the beloved new stuff ;-(

  • I love cheat recipes. You have no idea how many times I have opened and closed the Tartine Bakery book when I realized to make this beautiful loaf you need your own kefir starter that should have started a week ago.

  • You right as beautifully as you photograph as you bake. Fresh bread is one of the simplest of life’s pleasures, one so often gone unnoticed and taken for granted.

  • It looks amazing, but I really wanted to see the crumb – a shot of the slice! Thanks though, and hope you feel better soon ~ !

  • I love your grumpy attitude :) I never made a no knead bread before. I have a oval shaped casserole (39 x 26 cm, 5 liters). Do you think this would be OK? Should I change the baking time? Thank you!

    • Minik: Oval shape pot is perfectly ok, as long as if you don’t mind the bread coming out in an oval shape (but the dimension of your pot sounds large enough to avoid this problem) :)

  • This summer I tried and tried to get a sourdough starter going. And failed. The starter always seemed to be working great, rising and bubbling as it was supposed to. And then when I would make a loaf of bread with it, the dough was dense as could be. Just this morning I was going to order a starter from King Arthur Flour until I realized my $9 starter was going to cost $10 in shipping. And so I will try this lovely recipe!

    • How long did you leave your sourdough? I have a cookbook that suggests not using your sourdough culture for bread until it is at least 6 weeks old, possibly older… and using bicarbonate soda as a leavening/ evener of taste for the early sourdough, making cakes or pastries or the like.

  • Wow, is this bread screaming to be made. I’ve made the Lahey bread more times than I can count, so I know that I’m going to fly with this. I’d love to hear first though, if the yogurt used, is a non-fat, low-fat, or whole milk rendition. Breathlessly awaiting your response, and non-stop obsessing about making this.
    Thank you,
    Jeff

    • Jeff: I think the fat-content is less important (low-fat or whole milk would be fine), but you must use yogurt with active live culture so it gets more sour with time. Hope you have good luck with this!

  • I just made it and it is delicious..
    I have made the Cook’s Illustrated w/ beer and that one is nice too..
    But I think I like this one even more.
    Thank you~

  • Can’t tell you how excited I was to find this! Sourdough is one of my most favorite breads, but yeah, like you said…pass me some advil too. I’m so happy to have found your site too…how have I not been here before? Looking forward to spending the next two hours browsing through it all! :)

  • What about substituting buttermilk (with live cultures) for the yogurt? If I give it a try that way, I will let you know. I am also intrigued by the person who substituted lager. Thanks for the recipe and the inspiration to bake!

  • I just made this for Thanksgiving. I’ve baked no-knead breads for years and love sourdough, but never have the time of patience to keep a starter. I’ve also tried many fake sourdoughs (pickle juice, sauerkraut juice, beer, various vinegars) and none are really convincing. THIS REALLY WORKS. I doubt anyone would know it wasn’t from a started. The authentic cracked crust has a wonderful deep flavor. The bread itself has a noticeable tanginess that is more sourdough than my local bakery’s loaf. It’s moist without being heavy: great plain or of course toasted! This is now my regular daily bread recipe. I have a pumpernickel no-knead that I can’t wait to try as “sourdough!” Thank you so much. Love your site!!!!

  • Thanks so much for this recipe. I have been looking for a way to make easier sourdough rye because my starter keeps dying. I used your recipe but with half light rye flour. Of course it was very sticky, but I just handled it very carefully with wet hands when had to transfer it and when I did the folds. It turned out great!!!!

  • i started this bread late this morning, using organic flour and organic plain full fat yogurt using the 6 hour fermentation with 3/4 tsp. instant yeast I keep in the freezer. It didn’t double in size, but I went ahead and folded it over for the second rise. Still looks the same after an hour and a half, but I’m heating up oven and small Dutch oven now, and getting ready to bake it. Fingers crossed. Hope I don’t end up with a hockey puck.

    • Suzanne, was the yogurt alive (containing active culture)? Only live yogurt will get sour through time. If you kept it in the “freezer”, it certainly would not rise at all! But if in the “fridge”, 6 hours is probably not enough. I would leave it in room temperature for another hour or so, especially in winter. Didn’t sound like the dough proofed at all… braice yourself..

  • Yes! I made your bread and it was sooo tasty! I used the same quantity (by weight) of yogurt and flour, as I am not too good at cup-measuring (I live in Denmark). I replace 100 g of bread flour with rye flour. It was 500 g flours in all and 500 ml yogurt. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • can you please tellme am I meant to let the yoghurt get to room temp before mixing up bread or do you mean to let the yogurt mixed with yeast prove at room temp for 6 hours before mixing

    • Rita, so sorry for the late reply!! I can’t believe I just saw this comment! I didn’t let the yogurt get to room-temperature, so it was cool out of the fridge. Then just mix the yogurt (CONTAINING LIVE CULTURE, usually labeled as “probiotic”) directly with flour, yeast and other ingredients.

  • Hi Mandy,
    I made this bread several times recently, sometimes with saffron and honey for a change, and it worked beautifully. Thanks for a great recipe! I noticed Lia’s comment above, about Greek yoghurt; I actually used Greek and Turkish yoghurt myself, which I don’t think contain live cultures but worked well nevertheless. I am really enjoying reading your blog! Happy belated birthday!

  • I’ve made the original Lahey recipe for a number of years, and am really looking forward to trying this one. For those wondering about the right pot to use, I found an old pressure cooker at a thrift shop, and took off all the rubber bits-works great. If your pot is big at the bottom, your bread will spread out, rather than rise upwards once it hits the oven-a cake pan in the bottom of the pot was my solution. Also, for fans of the method, there’s a bunch of variations over at the Kitchn (www.thekitchn.com).

  • I made this using Greek yogurt as that’s all I had today. And it’s YUM! Thank you for your detailed recipes :)

  • I must say, AGAIN, your blog is absolutely hilarious. I am so happy and grateful to find a food blogger who isn’t completely P.C. and speaks her mind. It it sooo refreshing! All of us “MANDY-FANS” love your real-life attitude. I appreciate you!
    That being said, your recipes are all awesome! I made this bread 3 days ago, and it was the bomb! Hot with a pat of butter… Completely yummy!
    God bless Lady and Pups =)

  • I note you didn’t provide a shot of the crumb, I can only assume that it wasn’t very nice and open, probably stodgy and closed?

  • I’ve got a beautiful loaf cooling right now – all that’s left is the cutting and tasting, but it looks amazing! Thanks for the recipe. My husband loves sourdough, but I don’t have the patience to upkeep a starter.

  • Living in a sourdough town, I have never had the compulsion to actually bake one. But your imposter looks so intoxicating, so crusty and so doable. Yogurt? Yup, got that. I need to get on this ritual.

  • Wish me luck, I’m going to try this with a gluten free flour mix that includes almond, coconut and tapioca flours..Here I go!

  • I love the no knead method and the health benefits of consuming foods that have been through a long fermentation period – but I thought that the original Lahey recipe lacked a bit in the taste department. Your recipe is the best! The taste of the resulting loaf of bread is unbelievably awesome, better than most ‘real’ sourdough breads that I’ve had. Thank you so much! (I substituted half the plain flour with spelt flour).

    I have a question for you – do you think I could leave the dough in the fridge for around 10 hours after the initial 12-14 hour fermentation? Or will it just kill the yeast? I work full-time, but want to be able to make this bread at least every other day. So can I mix the dough in the evening after work, and the next morning transfer it to the fridge, and then bake it that evening?

    • Myra, I would assume that would be ok. I would try mixing the dough in the evening, then shape it the next morning, then leave the shaped dough in the fridge (Letting it do the second proofing in the fridge), then bake it that evening.

  • Mandy this may be a silly question,
    Do I lift the parchment paper with the dough on it into the heated pot, or turn the dough off of the paper into the pot by itself?

    • Andrea, sorry for the late reply! Lift the paper with the dough in it, and place into the oven all together. I find this easier than dropping a dough into a super hot pot and not get burnt.

      • Thanks for your answer Mandy – I had the same question. I’ve made Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread in the past and I hadn’t ever used parchment paper, but I have been struggling with getting the loaf out of the pot. The parchment paper sounds like it will work perfectly, as long as it doesn’t burn too badly to the bread…

  • I made this dough yesterday and it saved my life! I didn’t want to wait 24 hours for starter. I let my dough sit for the 6 hours then the additional two and it came out just like the picture! I love this recipe thank you!

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  • I can’t wait to try your bread, it looks and sounds WONDERFUL.
    Have you ever tried baking this bread with gluten-free flour? My mom is celiac and one of the things she misses the most is sourdough bread. I would so love to treat her to bread that tastes like sourdough and yours is so easy and looks delicious.
    Thanks!!

  • I made this a week ago but my dough didn’t get as moist as yours resulting in low dense rise but the taste was still awesome. I decided to make half batch add jalpeno and cheese and make beagles with the dough. Just have to say they are awesome!!. Will continue to play around with this recepie!!

  • Oooh, I so want to try this! I also wonder whether buttermilk would be a good tang-flavor-inducer?

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