Sourdough for Lazy People

This past Tuesday was the first day of my last month in culinary school.  During this final level, I will continue to work in the school’s restaurant, L’Ecole.  We have a new set of recipes to learn for each station.  However, my group began in the Entremetier station – which is my favorite station by far.  There are five stations in our restaurant: Entremetier, Garde Manger (hot and cold appetizers and salads), Poissonier (fish), Saucier (meats) and Patissier (dessert).  Entremetier is in charge of canapes and sandwiches that change daily; it’s a chance to be creative and experiment.  There are no recipes given to Entremet – we are completely responsible for coming up with the daily menu.  My group had a ton of fun this week and our daily menu was very diverse.  The first day, we made Croque Madame sandwiches which is a very traditional French sandwich; sourdough bread is browned in butter and topped with thinly sliced ham, Gruyere cheese, more bread, a fried egg on top and smothered in beschamel….artery clogging goodness, in other words.  For the sandwich, I decided to make homemade sourdough bread at home.  I’ve made bread before, but sourdough is a whole different beast.  Many recipes require you to make a starter – that is, a pre-ferment or “mother dough” that sits over several days and develops yeast.  The benefits to using a sourdough starter are seemingly endless; they add to the complexity of flavor, improve texture, etc.  However, I only had two days to make this bread and I needed a shortcut, or lazy man’s sourdough recipe.

I stumbled upon this great Alton Brown recipe for Knead Not Sourdough.  The recipe requires that you combine all the ingredients for the dough and then let it rise for nearly a day in a bowl then let it rise for a few more hours under a towel.  I must say, I was very pleased with the results.  The crust was nice and crunchy, the crumb was tender and flavorful.  It definitely didn’t have as much tang as I prefer in sourdough, but it was delicious none the less.

Knead Not Sourdough

Yield 1 loaf


17.5 oz bread flour, plus extra for shaping

1/4 tsp active dry yeast

2 1/2 tsp kosher salt

12 oz filtered water

2 tbsp cornmeal


Whisk together the flour, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl.  Add the water and stir until combined.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature for 19 hours. (Suggestion: after I made the dough, I lightly oiled another bowl with Canola and placed the dough in that bowl.  This will keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl and help keep it moist.  I also kept my dough near a humidifier.)

After 19 hours (I ended up letting it rise for closer to 24 hours), turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface.  Punch down the dough and turn it over onto itself a couple of times.  Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, shape the dough into a ball.  Coat hands with flour if needed to prevent it from sticking.  Sprinkle the tea towel with half of the cornmeal and lay the dough on top of it with the seam side down.  Sprinkle the top half of the dough with the remaining cornmeal and cover with the towel.  Allow to rest for another 2-3 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

While the dough is rising the second time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Place a 4-5 qt Dutch oven in the oven while it preheats.  Once the dough is ready, carefully transfer it to the preheated Dutch oven.  (I bake my bread on a preheated pizza stone.) Cover and bake for 30 minutes.   Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes, or until bread reaches an internal temperature of 210-212 degrees F.  Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

P.S.  Like the new Blue Soup makeover?? 🙂

This entry was published on January 23, 2011 at 12:49 pm. It’s filed under Bread, Culinary School, Culinary Student, Dough and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Sourdough for Lazy People

  1. Sharyn on said:

    just made this bread – worked out really good! and super easy. Thanks for posting.

  2. Sharyn on said:

    and without the dutch oven too!

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