I’ve been obsessed with making bread lately. Ever since I realized just how easy it was to make a sourdough starter, I’ve been constantly whipping up batches of naturally leavened bread (no literal whipping involved). I like my bread with a chewy crust, an open crumb, and a light sourdough flavour, so I’ve been on a mission to create just that: my favourite form of carbs.
After doing some research, I learned that the large irregular holes are created with a high hydration, or ‘wet’ dough. Working with a baker’s percentage, this means that the 100% flour is mixed with about 75-85% water by weight. A lower hydration dough would be something more like 50% water to 100% flour, and would produce a finer crumb (think sandwich bread).
The only thing about working with wet doughs is that they are very sticky, and I mean very sticky. But, with the right techniques, they can be easy to work with. No knead breads are also very wet doughs, and are made with very little handling (and therefore, very little sticking to your hands). But there are also ways to knead wet doughs that help to minimize the sticking.
Here is an absolutely stellar video demonstrating the French folding technique, sometimes referred to as the “slap and fold” method. Though you can get basically the same end results with just a gentle stretch and fold of the dough in the bowl (great example here), I actually really enjoy kneading dough. No knead breads may be easy, but for me, it also takes away all of the fun! I’ve recently been making my way through all the QI episodes, and kneading dough has been the perfect accompaniment.