The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Adapting Jim Lahey's recipe to Sourdough

AlaskanShepherdess's picture

Adapting Jim Lahey's recipe to Sourdough

I recently discovered Jim Lahey's no knead bread recipe. By far the best I have yet tried. MUCH better then Bread in 5 Minutes a Day! I am wanting to expirament, and try using my sourdough starter instead of yeast, but I'm not sure how much I should use, and how much to then reduce the amount of water the recipe calls for.

The ingredients are;

3C Flour

1/4 tsp yeast

2 1/4 tsp salt

1 5/8 C water



mrfrost's picture

In general, just substitute 1/4 cup sourdough starter for the instant yeast.

No other adjustments really required, but some folks may back off on the water a bit, to 1 1/2 cups. Even without the sourdough conversion, many feel that the 1 1/2 cups water works better in the "real world".

Easy video demo in this thread:

AlaskanShepherdess's picture

Thank you for the reply with the viedoe. :)


Another question it has brought up though, is Jim Lahey's recipe supposed to be that thick? Mine is not doughy at all, it's more like a thick waffle batter when I leave it to sit for 24 hours. I got that it was supposed to be that thin by the pictures here, which is where I found the recipe.

mrfrost's picture

Basically, it just boils down to your personal situation: Your particular type/brand of flour and environment, your comfort and expertise in handling a wetter dough, and your satisfaction with your results. So whatever works for you. Breadtopias version may have been "thicker"(less wet) because he used a little whole grain flour, which of course, absorbs a little more water than white flour. Video of Lahey himself doing his formula. Note, here he only "says" and uses 1 1/2 cups water, in addition to liberally using addtional flour in handling the dough.

Ambimom's picture

For your recipe, 145 grams of sourdough measured by weight on a scale is what I use.  Also, I typically DO knead a bit (maybe 10 minutes) after mixing and setting on the counter for its 13-18-hour rise.  I find my results are more consistent.


sfsourdoughnut's picture

 Dear Alaskan Shepherdess-

I used Jim Lahey's no-knead bread recipe with sourdough starter this weekend.

I think I should tell you that the video I saw had:

3 c flour (= 360 g)
1.5 c water (= 360 g)
1.25 tsp salt
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/4 c cornmeal for bottom of dutch oven, added right before you plop in the loaf

To convert to starter, simply calculate how much water and flour are already in the starter.

If I start with a 80 g very active sourdough starter (refreshed after at least 2 feedings)
Make the Leavan:
80 g starter + 80 g water + 80 g flour = 240 g

Let double in size, then...

Make the bread dough:
240 g starter+240 g water + 1.5 tsp salt, stir to make a slurry, + 240 g flour = 720 g + salt
Excluding the salt, you now have Jim Lahey's recipe (he says it makes two loaves, I only get 1).
Because it was so wet, I added anywhere from 60g-180g of flour, depending on your flour and locale, start w/60g and adjust from there.

Stash this in the fridge for 18-24 hours

Remove from fridge, preheat your oven to 515 degrees with small (i have a #20 le creuset, which I believe is a 5 qt version) dutch oven and lid covered with foil to ensure a good seal...everything has to be hot.

Remove dough onto floured surface, like the video, fold like an envelope several times until the dough is smooth, mine only took 2-3 complete sets of folds to turn into a ball.  Let rest while oven is heating everything up, about 30-60 min.

Cook covered for 30 min at 515 degrees.  Uncover and cook another 15-20 min until top is browned and split.

P.S. - On my bag of flour, it says that 1/4 c of flour = 30 g, 1/4 c of water weighs 60 g (exactly 2x flour).  However, when I measure 1 cup by volume, it weighs 144 g instead of 120 g.  So get yourself a scale that measures down to 1 g, and you'll do better.