The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rising Problems with Sourdough No-Knead

mizrachi's picture

Rising Problems with Sourdough No-Knead

I'm having trouble getting the rise I'd like in a few different no-knead sourdough recipes.  In fact, I'm not even sure how long to let the dough proof.  Some recipes call for an hour or two, others up to 4 to 6 hours.  I'm definitely not seeing my dough double.  Any ideas how I can remedy this?

Janknitz's picture

Sourdough may need a LOT of time.  I learned my lesson this weekend when I tried to hurry a sourdough only loaf.  No knead recipe said it needed two hours out of the fridge, but it wasn't fully proofed even after four.  I baked it anyway and got a brick that went from the cooling rack to the compost.   DUH!  I knew better, but was out of time and I tried to hurry things along.   

You may not always see the dough double in a no knead recipe, but you can test the proof by poking the dough gently with your finger.  If it bounces back immediately, more proofing is needed.  If the depression made by your finger fills back slowly, it's ready to be baked. 

Part of this may be determined by the ambient temperature in your kitchen when the final proofing is happening.  I find it very slow in my kitchen during this time of year, because we only heat to 63 degrees Farenheit, if at all. 

Sometimes, to speed things up I'll heat a cup or two of water in the microwave and then stick the dough in there (with the cup of now hot water) as a proofing box until things start moving along.  But be careful--the temperature in the microwave at that point is about 80 degrees, and it can easily over proof too!  I've seen people use an upside down plastic storage box or a foam cooler with a cup of hot water inside as a proofing box too--that's probably not going to stay quite as warm. 

The oven spring is mostly a matter of well-proofed dough and good steam.  Classic no-knead recipes use a covered baking pot, trapping the steam inside and you get the best oven spring that way.  Spraying the loaf or adding water or ice cubes to a pan in the oven don't get quite the same amount of spring as a covered bake, IMHO. 

Be sure to score your bread as that allows the expansion that needs to happen for good oven spring.