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Yohan Ferrant’s “Do Nothing” Bread

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At the “Quest for Sourdough” workshop I attended last month in Vith, Belgium, a wonderful baker, Yohan Ferrant, explained the method of making bread that he, along with some other bakers and nutritionist were working on.  It was dubbed the “Do Nothing” bread by one of the attendees and it’s now all the rage. If you hashtag, #yohansbread or #donothingbread you will find many posts on Facebook about the bread. 

I filmed Yohan as he explained the method and then showed how to shape the very wet dough. The method is somewhat similar to the “No Knead” bread by Jim Lahey but uses a miniscule amount of levain/sourdough starter (0.5% – 2%), is a very wet dough and is very long fermented at room temperature. Although you can ferment it even longer in the fridge or a colder environment.

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The very long fermentation at a high hydration, without touching the dough is supposed to optimize the bread nutrition and glycemic index as well as brings out the full flavor of the grain. The dough is mixed, then left covered to ferment for 24 hours with only one fold.

I have to admit that when I tried it, my dough was like soup. After I folded it once, it came together fairly well for a 90% hydration dough and the shaping was similar to a ciabatta loaf.

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My family raved over the resulting bread, it tastes and smells wonderful. You can vary the hydration, use different flour and even play around with the inoculation rate (the amount of sourdough or levain in the dough). Some bakers have tried using a lower hydration dough with great results. I like that you can mix it and walk away from it until you shape it and then bake it. It’s really a “do nothing” bread.

Here are the videos I took of Yohan at the workshop:

Here is my take on the method:

And here is the formula I came up with (going along with what Yohan explained)

  • 10 grams of active sourdough starter @ 100% hydration(mine was fed six hours before using)
  • 900 grams of water
  • 600 grams of freshly ground whole wheat flour
  • 400 grams of bread flour
  • 20 grams of salt

1930 grams of dough at 90% hydration This was using 1% inoculation rate of starter and I mixed it all at once with no autolyse.

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I made four small loaves, they were easier to handle that way. You can half the formula for two small loaves. Baked at 470F/243C with 15 minutes steam and 15- 18 minutes uncovered.

Yohan said that this method is good for “weak” flour too. I haven’t tried weak flour but I would keep an eye on how long it ferments if I tried a weak flour. He also said you can use an autolyse or not as you choose. If you have a choice, use higher protein flour. If you use a weak flour you may need to lower the hydration of the dough. See the video for more information.

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If you try this bread post photos on the Facebook group, Perfect Sourdough so we can all see how you did.

Give the gift of learning how to bake real sourdough with an online course: Sourdough Bread Baking 101 for only $12.00 (psst, if someone else can bake it, you might get to eat it!)

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23 Comments

  1. Anna Anna
    March 7, 2017    

    If I am unable to bake after 24hrs can I shape it and retard it over night?

  2. Shelley Shelley
    January 12, 2017    

    Just one question – when is the best time to do the one stretch and fold? Just before shaping? Halfway through the bulk fermentation? 30 minutes after mixing the dough? Or does it matter?

    thanks

    • January 13, 2017    

      I think folding it after it’s fermented all night is a good time. It’s not critical. 🙂 What is critical is that you handle it as little as you can.

  3. Paul Paul
    December 14, 2016    

    Tried the the recipe, only did the final proof in a couche in stead of bannetons. The dough was quite wet, and I had a little trouble separating the loafs from the couche after proofing. The final bake turned out great though, and the bread tastes terrific! Thanks for sharing, Teresa.

  4. December 6, 2016    

    I think that it is important to note the baker needs to be using 60-65% whole grains in this formula. It is the whole grains that that makes this dough somewhat manageable. It is also the whole grains that make this bread nutritious, which was the reason for making a “do nothing” bread.
    I mistakenly reversed the amount of whole wheat flour in my first attempt at making this bread. Using only 40% whole wheat at 90% hydration resulted in bread soup. I’m not sure if all grains will work as well as whole wheat, but I know rye would work too.

  5. Ann Ann
    November 15, 2016    

    1. After shaping and placing in the bannetons, how long do you proof it?
    2.Will the dough hold it’s shape being cooked on a flat stone or does it need to be baked in a vessel?

  6. Hugh Hugh
    October 21, 2016    

    Thanks so much for this recipe!
    I mixed a batch of the dough with Whole Foods AP & whole wheat and after 5 hours I did a series of 6 stretch and folds. I couldn’t believe how the dough came together so quickly. It gave me hope for the shaping… Reality was much different however after emptying my Cambro bin. My dough looked nothing like what Johan demonstrated dividing. It was very slack “slop” and it ended up in the trash.

    I can’t wait for you to make an instructional video for this bread as it looks really interesting.
    Thanks so much.

  7. margie laughlin margie laughlin
    October 16, 2016    

    Do you consider spelt to be a weak flour, would like to try this with spelt, also.

    • October 21, 2016    

      Spelt has more gliadin in it and tends to spread. Yes, you can try it, but I would add less water to the dough. You will have a challenge with it.

      • margie laughlin margie laughlin
        October 22, 2016    

        I did try this bread with whole wheat. I started late so by morning, about 18 hrs after mix, it had doubled. But by 24 hrs had not moved & found it had begun to degrade when benched. I was able to shape enough to place in baguette pan until the oven heated. No spring at all & did not color well, nothing like yours. However, the taste was very good! We ate tiny slices with avacado & cheese 🙂 My RT was warmer than yours, but I didn’t hear that mentioned as a factor. The baker said his dough tripled. Should I bake @ 20hrs when doubled?

        • October 22, 2016    

          Yes, if you noticed it was doing well at 18 hours, I would even shape at 16 or 17 hours and bake. Your room temperature would definitely have an impact on the dough. This dough is so wet that the Co2 that is absorbed into the dough is what makes it pop in the oven. If you are getting a doubling of the dough, take advantage of that and time it so you bake it earlier.

        • margie laughlin margie laughlin
          October 28, 2016    

          I wonder, also, what you think the difference is between using a small amount of levain, as in the do nothing bread, or using a small amount of seed to build the levain, like Chad Robertson does. I think his is about 1:10 seed to flour, but he uses about 15% levain in a formula.

  8. Holly Holly
    October 14, 2016    

    Well, I got a big batch of soup. Not sure what happened. ?? I’m not sure I can use this for anything or save it somehow.

    • October 14, 2016    

      It might be your flour, try a different flour. I also got soup but after one fold and shaping as for Ciabatta, it came out really nice.

  9. October 13, 2016    

    I’m a little confused about the instructions. You said you can have an autolyse or not, it’s your choice. I thought just mixing all the ingredients together and leaving them WAS an autolyse? Or have I misinterpreted something along the way?

    Hope you can clear it up for me! Thanks!

    • October 13, 2016    

      In an autolyse, you leave out the salt and then add it in later. Salt modifies the fermentation and inhibits the action of enzymes which breaks down gluten.

      • October 13, 2016    

        Thank you!

  10. Holly Holly
    October 13, 2016    

    Can’t wait to try this! Thanks!

    Two questions… It was a bit hard to understand all Yohan was saying because of his “mother tongue”…but, was his dough at 74% hydration? Or, did I hear that incorrectly? Just wondering. I”m still trying to wrap my head around the hydration percentages and how to figure them out. Also, what were the seed additions he had?

    Thanks!

    • October 13, 2016    

      Unfortunately I wasn’t there when he actually mixed the dough, so I don’t know what type of soaker or grains he put in the dough. His dough was at 90% hydration.

      • Holly Holly
        October 14, 2016    

        Thank you! One more question…would it be possible to use a heavily floured couche for this? I don’t have linen clothes. (I guess I should try to find some!) I just flour my round bannetons with rice flour.

        Thanks, again, for sharing!
        ~Holly

        • Holly Holly
          October 14, 2016    

          Cloths…not clothes. Sigh…

        • October 14, 2016    

          Yes, a couche should work just fine.

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  1. Bread Experiment: Yohan Ferrant’s ‘Do Nothing’ Bread | N = 1 on January 1, 2017 at 1:49 pm

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