Magic No-Knead Bread & How to Store It

I’m on a quest to minimize the amount of single use plastic packaging in our household. This week: bread bags.

6384320299_ace6a56591_bWhy cut back on plastic bread bags? After all, most bread bags are made out of Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE), a plastic considered safe enough to use for baby bottles.

Even though it’s “safe,” it doesn’t degrade, and most municipalities don’t accept LDPE for curbside recycling collection. Some grocery store chains collect it in special bins (Safeway and Albertson’s in our neighborhood), but honestly, how many of us actually follow through there? Besides, good bread doesn’t need a plastic bag. Many wonderful bakeries sell fresh bread in paper bags, or no bags at all.

You can also make your own bread. It’s unbelievably easy. Doesn’t require a special machine, a lot of time or space.

Here is a fantastic, classic New York Times No-knead Bread recipe.

Or, try making your own sourdough bread. Sourdough is easier to digest, has a great texture and longer shelf life than regular homemade bread.

Scribbler’s Magic No-Knead Sourdough Bread

To start off, you need:

Sourdough starter

Heavy pan with a lid

Flour

Salt

Water

The easiest way to get hold of a good sourdough starter is to ask around. Sourdough bakers generally enjoy being asked and are usually happy to share.

If you don’t have a friend with a starter or want to start fresh, pick up a pack of dried starter, available in many grocery stores. I used San Francisco sourdough starter. To get it going, it needed (A) a daily feeding for seven days and (B) warm temperatures. I kept the light on in the oven and bumped the temperature up a little in the mornings to keep it as close to 80˚F as I could. The starter had strongly sour scent after the first couple of days, then mellowed, and ended up yellowish-white, bubbly, with a mildly sour smell. It looks like pancake dough.

Once your starter is going, here are a couple of sites (1)  (2) with tips on how to feed and care for it.

The more often you bake bread, the more “wild” yeast floats around in the air in your kitchen. This enlivens a starter, and makes the whole process easier.

bread food fresh hands
Start in the evening, let rise overnight and bake in the morning while you have breakfast and read the morning news. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Scribbler’s Magic No-Knead Sourdough Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour. Bread flour is recommended but not necessary.
  • 3/4 c “fed” sourdough starter (see links on feeding sourdough starters, above)
  • 1 1/4 c lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)

Directions:

  1. In a big bowl, stir salt into flour.
  2. In a small bowl, mix lukewarm water with starter.
  3. Pour starter/water mix into dry ingredients. Stir just until mixed and most of the flour is absorbed. It will have a doughy texture. Add a little water if it feels dry.
  4. Cover the bowl. To avoid Saran-type plastic, I use waxed cloth and rest a towel on top. You can also use just a towel. This will leave a skin on top of the dough, which is not a big deal.
  5. Let rise 12 – 14 hours. I set it out at night and bake in the morning. The dough will rise 2 to 3 times its original size, be light and a little bubbly.
  6. Dump into an oiled dutch oven or heavy pan with lid, gently loosening the dough from the sides as you pour so you don’t deflate too much of the rise. Cover with a lid.
  7. Put into a cold oven. Set the temperature for 500˚ F (260˚C).
  8. Set the timer for 30 minutes.
  9. When the temperature reaches 500, turn down to 475˚ F (246˚C).
  10. At 30 minutes, remove the lid. Bake uncovered for another 17 – 20 minutes, until the crust is nice and brown and the loaf sounds hollow when thumped. For a softer crust, leave the lid on longer and/or bake for a shorter time.

This is a dense, crusty loaf that slices easily and keeps well.

Now— how to store it without a plastic bag?

Bread box

I use an expandable breadbox by Prepworks (no, they aren’t paying me for this promo). Shop around. There are a lot of options.

81kC1TKiQUL._SL1500_.jpg

A bread box does an excellent job of keeping bread fresh. Yes, my box is plastic, but hopefully it will last years and be recyclable when I’m done with it.

Have questions? Tips? A favorite breadbox? What’s your favorite bakery or bread recipe?

Photo credit, featured photo: Nelson Suarez

2 comments

  • I LOVE making my own sourdough. I created my own starter a few years ago after reading Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked.” His recipe seems more complicated… I am going to try yours.

    For storage, I keep my sourdough in a paper bag for a few days. For longer storage, I refrigerate or freeze in a reusable container.

    Like

  • I was inspired by Michale Pollan too, but epically failed at making my own sourdough and gave up for awhile. Good to know a bread box probably isn’t necessary!

    Like

Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.