The Fresh Loaf

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Breaking Bread, an exploration of bread and its many facets

ars pistorica's picture
ars pistorica

Breaking Bread, an exploration of bread and its many facets

I am a Jim Lahey disciple, philosophically speaking.  There are not many in the professional-baking community.

I will forever remember the coffee-bean-like smell of torrefied wheat bran emanating from the original Sullivan St while walking past on my way home at 3 a.m.

Here is a sourdough adaptation of the no-knead recipe in his book, but this version is truer to the Pugliese dough at his bakery.  Please note, the yield has been adjusted to be the same as in the book, as well as the overall hydration and salt content.  Additionally, Lahey uses yeast at the bakery to achieve a roughtly 4.5-hour total fermentation-time, and, if one wishes to more mimic that dough, a scant 1/8th-teaspoon (equal to .13% of mix-flour weight) of instant-dried yeast may be added to the dough.  This will approximately decrease overall fermentation time by one-third.


Starter for Lahey-Style Sourdough

6.25 g mature starter, 60% hydration

30 g water, moderately cold (15°C)

25 g flour, all-purpose

25 g flour, whole wheat


1.  Mix ingredients together using your hands until a homogenous dough is achieved, about 2 mins.

2.  Let ferment at room temperature for 10 - 14 hours.

No-Knead Lahey-Style Sourdough

356.5 g flour, all-purpose

70.5 g starter, from above

274 g water, moderately cold (15°C)

8 g salt


1.  Place flour in a large, non-reactive mixing bowl.

2.  In the bowl of a blender, combine the water, starter and salt.  Blitz on highest speed for 30 - 45 seconds, until no large particles remain.

3.  Pour the blender contends into the flour bowl, using a spatula to scrape out every last bit.  Stir, using only one hand, until a shaggy dough is achieved, and every particle of flour is hydrated.  Cover with a plastic bag, and let ferment for 4 - 5 hours at room temperature.

4.  Lightly dust a large, flat work surface with flour.  Using a dough scraper, gently remove the dough from the bowl.  Using lightly-floured hands, grasp dough from the under-side and gently coax into a flat, even square, taking care to not de-gas dough too much.  Fold the dough's edges into the center to form a round.

5.  Gently place round seam-side down into a deep bowl lined with a cotton tea-towel that has been generously dusted with flour.  Amply dust top of loaf with a 50-50 mixture of flour and days-old breadcrumbs that have been ground up finely together and sieved.  Gently fold the towel's edges over the loaf, and let proof for 3 - 3.5 hours at ambient temperature.

6.  One hour into the proof, preheat oven to 260°C and a 4.5 - 5.5-quart heavy pot  for two hours.

7.  Proceed as per the normal recipe, with two exceptions:  firstly, the bottom of the loaf (that is, the seam side at the bottom of the bowl) is inverted to become the top of the loaf, and the loaf is not scored; second, bake at 260°C for 40 minutes with the lid on, and 250°C for another 16 to 20 minutes with the lid off.