You will recall at the beginning of quarantine life, I decided to get on the sourdough bandwagon like everyone else. I thought it would be a short lived thing. It takes quite a bit of time and patience to make sourdough, but for some reason, I keep going back to it. It really is the perfect project when working from home. It needs some babysitting, and there is definitely a bit of a technique to it that takes practice. But if you work 5 feet away from your kitchen, it isn’t so hard to find the time to make this. The taste is out of this world, and if nothing else, then that smell of fresh baked bread cooking in your kitchen is addictive on its own… you know what I’m talking about!
If you have been following along, I’ve played around with a few sourdough recipes. Sourdough biscuits, pancakes, garlic naan (one of the faves!)… but the one I consistently keep coming back to – and eating almost every day – is my no knead sourdough bread. And more recently, its more tasty cousin – Jalapeño Cheddar No Knead Sourdough Bread! If regular sourdough is addictive and delicious, then jalapeño sourdough is basically like crack.
This recipe actually makes 2 loaves, because you will honestly need to make this much – it will not last long.
A few tips I’ve learnt as a beginner for making this no knead sourdough bread amazing every time:
- Equipment – you need a few key things – weighing scale, food thermometer, dutch oven (a round cast iron pan with lid)
- Don’t use metal bowls – the metal prevents the yeast from doing its thing, so you want to use plastic to ensure you get the best rise out of your dough.
- Same thing with salt – add a salt slurry a bit later on, salt slows down the rise, so add it later to help get the most out of your yeast!
- Start with a fed starter – I feed my starter and let it rest at room temperature for 3-4 hours till it has doubled and is nice and bubbly before starting this recipe. It will work with discards (unfed starter), but you may need to let the dough rise happen longer or the end result isn’t as big and fluffy.
- Measure your ingredients carefully. I use a weighing scale to measure everything – even the liquids. You need precision here!
- Bread flour would be best. I use organic (unbleached) all purpose flour most of the time, because that is all I could find. And it turns out fine. But if you are lucky enough to have unbleached bread flour this would make it even better!
- Unbleached flour is best – it has the most food for the bacteria to feast on! And well fed bacteria makes for a much yummier loaf!
- Shaping the dough – this is a bit of a technique, but lots of fun to practice. There are a few great shaping videos on youtube if you want some help on this. The key is to have a light touch and avoid deflating/degassing the dough. And practice, practice, practice!
- Check the temperature of your bread to make sure it is fully cooked. Don’t just go by looks. When fully cooked, it will be just over 205 F (96.1 C) on the inside.
- Let the bread cool completely on a cooling rack before you cut into it – cooling is a crucial part of the process! If you cut into it too early, it will become really chewy/gummy – I know waiting is the hardest part! Just trust me. Wait for it! 🙂
It does take a bit of time to make this. You need about 2 days before you can sink your teeth into a fresh slice of Jalapeno Cheddar Sourdough, but it is soooo worth the wait!
I always plan for the days when I know I will be working from home two days straight to start my dough. And then I plan my breaks (also sometimes conference calls 😉 ) around when I need to tend to the dough.
Once cooked, this bread also freezes up beautifully. So just wait for the loaves to cool completely, slice and freeze in an airtight container, and you can have a fresh slice of sourdough anytime!
For those of you that do not have sourdough starter ready and available (its not hard to make, you just need a bit of flour and water, and a few days to get it going), I have added a recipe note at the end if you want to sub the sourdough starter for instant yeast. Note that I have not fully tested the yeast version of this recipe yet, so if you do try it, let me know how it worked out for you. When I have a chance to fully test the yeast version a few times, I will update this recipe with any further notes. Give it a go let me know what you think!
Now I’m going to enjoy a fresh slice of my Jalapeño Cheddar Sourdough with a generous slather of butter. Is there anything better?
Jalapeño Cheddar No Knead Sourdough Bread (Beginner Friendly)
For the Levain
- 50g active sourdough starter (fed)
- 135g room temp water
- 135g unbleached bread flour (or unbleached all purpose flour)
For the Dough
- 10g salt
- 25g room temp water (for the salt slurry)
- 900g unbleached bread flour (or unbleached all purpose flour)
- 90g milk
- 470g room temp water (for the dough)
- 2-3 jalapeño, thinly sliced (leave the seeds in for a spicer bread!)
- 1 cup shredded aged cheddar
- 1 cup rice flour/semolina (any one, or a mixture will work)
Day 1 – Make the Levain
- Measure out your 50g of active sourdough starter, 135g of water, and 135g of bread flour and mix in a large plastic bowl. Make sure everything is well mixed. Cover with a tea towel, and let sit for at least 6-12 hours in a warm place (the kitchen counter, or in the oven with the light on works really well in cooler climates). I like to do this overnight.
- The levain should double in size, be nice and bubbly and smell like a yeasty sourdough before you move to the next step. (If not, start again with active sourdough starter, your yeast was probably not fed enough when you started!)
Day 2 – Make the Dough
- In a separate small bowl or measuring cup – mix the 25g of water and 10g of salt to form a salt slurry. Set aside.
- In your large bowl with the levain, add the 900g flour, 90g milk, 470g water, sliced jalapeños and 1 cup grated cheddar. Mix well so there are no more dry bits of flour (you can use your hands or a wooden spoon or spatula).
- Cover with a kitchen towel, and let this rest for 30 minutes to 1hr in a warm place (I like it in the oven with the light on).
- Add the salt slurry and mix gently with your hands till it is incorporated into the dough. You want to gently squeeze and fold the dough over on itself a few times.
- Cover again, and let rest for 1-1.5 hours in a warm place.
- Again gently squeeze and fold the dough on itself a few times, cover and let rest.
- Repeat this rest-folding cycle at least 3 times (over a total of approx. 3 hours).
- Once you have completed the above bulk fermentation process you will see the dough has doubled in size, give it one last gentle knead, cover and let this rise in the fridge overnight (delayed fermentation stage). Let the dough sit in the fridge for 12 to 48 hours. Technically, you could just go straight to shaping and baking now – but it won't really be sourdough at this point!)
Day 3 – Shape the Dough
- After your delayed fermentation in the fridge is complete, and you are ready to shape and bake.
- Remove the dough from the fridge (it will have risen quite a bit) and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
- On a very lightly floured, clean counter, gently remove the dough onto the counter and separate into two halves. The dough should not be very sticky, and quite soft and almost jiggly.
- Working with one half at a time, gently flatten and stretch out the dough into a rough square (careful not to squish out all the air bubbles!). Fold it over onto itself envelope style. Flip it over and gently start to pull and the ball toward you along the counter, rotate and pull a few times to shape it into a round. Make sure not to punch down or deflate it as you go. Be gentle here. (Theres a few good shaping videos on youtube if you need some guidance on this). I find it tends to shape better when my counter is not very floured at all so that the dough has the counter to grab onto as you shape it.
- When the dough is nice and round and smooth all over. Place the kitchen towel over it and set aside.
- Repeat with the other half of the dough.
- Cover both rounds with a kitchen towel and allow them to rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare your 'banneton' for the dough. If you don't own a proper banneton, you can make your own – line a round bowl roughly the size of the loaf you want to make (same size or a bit smaller than your baking dish) with a thin kitchen towel. Sprinkle the kitchen towel or banneton with some rice flour and semolina to coat the bottom and sides to prevent the dough from sticking as it rises. (You want to use a different flour than the actual bread so that it doesn't absorb into the dough!)
- Back to your dough – remove the kitchen towel and give them one more gentle shaping.
- Using a bench scraper, or your hands, gently lift the dough off the counter and place into the banneton upside down (so you should see the seam side up – smooth part down).
- Sprinkle with more rice flour and loosely cover with a kitchen towel. Let this rest and rise at room temp for a final proof. About 2-3 hours.
- The dough should rise up about 25%. Don't let it get any bigger than this or you will end up with over proofed dough which will deflate when you bake it (it will still taste fine though – so don't worry if you do overproof).
- During the last hour of the rise, start to pre-heat your oven to 500F (260C). Place the empty dutch oven with the lid on into the oven as it pre-heats for at least 30 minutes before you want to start baking. If you only have one dutch oven (like I do) you will need to do the whole bake process twice since there are two dough balls!)
- Prepare a sheet of parchment (larger than your dough round) by sprinkling with rice flour.
- Carefully turn your banneton with the dough onto the parchment, and remove the kitchen towel. The smooth side round should now be facing up now.
- Now you can get fancy and use a lame (or a very sharp clean knife or blade) to carve a pretty pattern into your sourdough. Also just a slash down the centre or a cross pattern will do. Make sure it gets pretty deep (at least 1/2 inch to 1 inch deep) into the surface of the dough.
- Carefully take the pre-heated dutch oven out of the oven and remove the lid.
- Carefully lift up the parchment with the dough and place it into the pre-heated dutch over. Immediately put the hot lid back on (carefully!) and place it back in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Carefully take off the lid and continue to bake for a further 15-25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 205F (96 C). It should also turn a lovely golden brown on top. If you are finding that it is getting too brown on top, and still not fully cooked internally, place the cover back on and keep baking until you reach the required internal temperature.
Cool & Serve
- Once the bread is cooked, remove from the oven. Carefully grab two ends of the parchment and remove the bread from the pan and let it rest on a cooling rack for a couple of hours until fully cooled. Making sure the bread has fully cooled will ensure a light and fluffy bread.
- Slice and serve, or freeze for later! Highly recommend you eat a fresh slice with butter!