No-knead pot bread, the sourdough update      

Sourdough pot bread, 2022

12 years ago I posted a recipe for no-knead pot bread from NPR. It’s “pot bread” because it’s baked in a pot. Below is that recipe adjusted for sourdough (recipe for making sourdough starter at end). Original post is here and NPR article is here.

12 years ago Leslie was alive and well; we were in Dallas; There was 12.5” snow in Dallas that February; I was teaching end-of-life care and community health at Baylor; Leslie and I were both working in the Agape Clinic; Leslie, David, and I traveled for ~7 weeks in Asia (Hong Kong, Hanoi, Hue, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Battambang, Bangkok, Chiang Mai), and more in 2010. Those were some days! (see original post link above).

Good, dense crumb. Toast from this loaf is superb!

Now Leslie has passed from this earth; I’m in Berkeley, married to Jean; it’s sunny and cool here – and Dallas about to get some seriously bad weather; I’m retired and pretty tired, too; doing a little gardening, more baking, some writing, quiet life; in the past year Jean and I have traveled to Dallas, Bolinas, Point Reyes, San Francisco, La Honda; we’re about to hit the third year of this pandemic. These are some days!

No-knead pot bread: I made a summary (below) because the NPR article uses a lot of words. But I recommend you read NPR as well. I use a ceramic pot with top to bake in. I tried Le Creuset (heavy metal) but it scorched a little, so maybe bake at slightly lower temp if in metal?

4 cups/20 ounces/567 gm flour (3 parts all-purpose, 1 part bread flour OR some variation on 20 gm rye, 60 gm whole wheat, 487 gm all-purpose)
2 tsp salt
¾ tsp instant yeast OR ~50 gm liquid sourdough starter
2 cups ice water (if using sourdough, dissolve the starter in water and then add the ice
1 teaspoon honey or barley malt syrup
(if making cheese bread) 1/2 – 3/4 pound Monterrey pepper jack cheese cut into ½” cubes. Eatzis uses jack cheese. Cheddar gives too much oil for my taste. Gruyere is good, but expensive.
Olive oil

Stir dry together, then vigorously stir in ice water
Oil top, cover, fridge 8-12 hours
In cool room let rise 8-10 hours. The longer this rising, the more sour the taste. See end of post for other ways to increase the sourness
Stir. If making cheese bread fold in cubed cheese after stirring

Oil top, let rise until ~doubled
Fold using oiled rubber spatula until mostly deflated

Cover, let rise until doubled (2-4 hours)
The cheese may seem to come to the surface of the dough during rising, fermentation. I just push it back into the dough as far as my finger goes.

Preheat oven and bowl to 450 – lower the middle rack 1st
(Go fast – carefully) wipe small amount olive oil to inner hot pot
Dough in – use oiled spatula
Slash dough, spray water generously, put top on pot

Bake 55 minutes with top on***
Top off, reduce heat to 425
Bake 20-25 more minutes
*** some recipes call for ~ 25 minutes with top on and 55 minutes with top off

Making sourdough starter (from Tassajara Bread Book – my first baking book from sometime in the early 70s). You can also start with dry starter from several internet sources or best of all, use starter from a friend. If you start with dry starter, you have to use the dry to start your own starter which can be either a batter type starter or a firm starter.

2.5 cups flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat, ½ cup rye – rye tends to have more of the requisite microorganisms)
2 teaspoons honey or barley malt syrup
2.5 cups warm water

Combine and let ferment for at least 5 days, stirring daily. A longer ferment yields a more sour starter. To maintain batter status, the starter should be replenished with 1:1 flour and water every time you use it. Or just add flour to generate a firm starter. Store in refrigerator. Feed every 1-2 weeks.

Increasing sour taste (from experience and

  • Use whole grain vs white flours, especially all or part rye flour
  • Stir longer, more vigorously
  • Stir or knead the hooch (brown liquid that may come to top) back into the starter
  • Longer ferments at cooler temperature

    Whole wheat sourdough from Tassajara – baked another time

  • Use dry starter vs. batter starter. The above recipe yields a batter, but decreasing hydration is easy – just add more flour to the batter
  • Use smaller amounts starter in recipes (I don’t understand why this one increases sourness)
  • Use warmer (not hot) water
  • Feed starter less frequently

Happy baking!

Bread makes itself, by your kindness, with your help, with imagination running through you, with dough under hand, you are breadmaking itself, which is why breadmaking is so fulfilling and rewarding.

Edward Espe Brown in the Tassajara Bread Book



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