Ultimate Guide to Sourdough Bread

Ultimate Guide to Sourdough Bread


Sourdough bread has a thick, chewy crust and soft, airy interior. It is comforting, savory and so easy to make using only flour, salt, and water. Learn how to make your own starter, maintain it, and turn it into a loaf.

Collage of photos of step by step how to make sourdough bread

We know many people are looking for an easy introduction to sourdough, without worrying about technique, so consider this your introductory lesson to making sourdough starter and bread from scratch. There are many methods and recipes for sourdough out there, and we are just focusing on one simple method. If you graduate from this and want to get fancy, there is a lot more to try out with sourdough baking! 

The most important first step is to have a sourdough starter. You might already know someone with a starter, and if so, you’ve got an easy head start! You don’t need a lot, just get a couple of tablespoons and then immediately feed. If you aren’t lucky enough to have family or friends with an active sourdough starter, you can make your own from flour, water, and a bit of patience.

Sourdough starter in a mason jar

Making Your Own Sourdough Starter:

Wild yeast lives in the air and flour, it’s everywhere really! Breads made from wild yeast do not require commercial yeast. To make your own wild yeast sourdough starter

  1. Fill a larger plastic or glass container with 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Stir until thoroughly combined into a smooth batter.
  2. Cover with a loosely screwed on lid or plastic wrap.
  3. “Feed” your starter 4 ounces of water and flour, stirring until combined, every 24 hours.
  4. Notice any air bubbles day to day, both large and small, that means it’s working and the wild yeasts are doubling! It should start to smell sour after a few days, but room temperature can affect how quickly it activates. Don’t worry too much about it, just keep feeding it every day. The texture will change from a pancake dough batter to an airy, lighter batter over the first 5 days.
  5. By day 5, or once it smells sour and is airy and doubling in volume, it is ready to use in your preferred sourdough bread recipe! 

Sourdough Starter Maintenance

If you bake bread often, you can leave your starter on the counter and feed daily to keep it active. We like to feed 5 Tablespoons of both flour and water. You’ll find that your jar can’t contain that much starter, as it will double in size each time you feed it. You can either discard a bit of starter before each feed, or you can save it and use in waffles, pancakes, pizza dough, or even fry up that discarded starter in oil and add some seasonings as a delicious, sourdough ‘pancake!’ Just always make sure to leave at least 2 tablespoons of starter behind to continue to feed. You never want to use it all up.

If you want to only make bread once each week or less, keep your starter stored in the fridge. 2 days before you’re ready to make bread, remove it from the fridge and feed and leave on the counter. 24 hours later, feed it again. It could take anywhere from 2-5 hours for the starter to be fully active and ready to use after that second feed. Once it is fully active and doubled in size, you are ready to bake. Make sure to feed your starter after each discard or use.

Using Your Starter: Making the Dough

Now that your starter has doubled in size and is billowing at the top, you are ready to make your bread dough. We like a larger loaf, so mix 3 1/3 cups of flour with 2 1/2 cups of water. Either all purpose or bread flour will work, though we prefer bread flour. You can start mixing with a wooden spoon if you like, but you’ll realize pretty quickly that a spoon will only get you so far, and you’ll want to switch to just mixing by hand. The dough will be really sticky and thick. Let the dough rest for 45 minutes with a lid on or covered in plastic wrap. This resting process where gluten development begins is called the autolyse.

First Rise

After 45 minutes, add in 1 Tablespoon salt and 1/2 cup of your starter to the water/flour mixture. Mix this all in by hand until well combined, but do not knead. Let it rise for anywhere from 12-24 hours. In the winter, when the house is cooler, we let this rise for about 20 hours. In the summer, we stick fairly close to 12-14 hours. You just want it to double in size. Without adding any commercial yeast, this can be a fairly long process, so we tend to do this first rise overnight.

Sourdough first rise in a plastic container

Second Rise

Once the dough has doubled in size, dump it out onto a clean, floured surface and fold it over a few times into the center. Transfer this to an oiled bowl or to a floured proofing basket. Let it rise for 3-5 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when you poke it with your finger (not too harshly) and the indent remains, or only very slowly springs back while still leaving an indent. If the dough springs right back, it needs more time to rise. 

Baking

Once your dough is fully risen, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with your dutch oven in the oven for the entire preheating time. Flip your dough from your basket/bowl onto a large piece of parchment paper. Use that excess parchment paper to help lift the dough into the dutch oven. Put lid on and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake until bread is a deep brown, approximately 30 more minutes. 

PRO TIP: Put a baking sheet under your dutch oven  when you remove the lid, and bake for the remaining time this way. This will ensure the bottom of the bread doesn’t get too dark or burn. 

Once the bread is a deep brown, turn off oven and crack the door. Let your bread cool in the cracked oven for 20 minutes before removing from oven and dutch oven, and putting on a cooling rack. Cutting into a warm loaf of bread is SO tempting, but it is important to let the bread cool completely to allow texture and flavor to develop completely. 

Sourdough bread on a cooling rack

How to Make Sourdough Bread (Including Sourdough Starter Instructions)

Sourdough bread has a thick, chewy crust and soft, airy interior. It is comforting, savory and so easy to make using only using flour, salt, and water. Learn how to make your own starter, maintain it, and turn it into a loaf.

Print Pin Rate

Author: Stephanie Patterson

Ingredients

Sourdough Starter

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 1/2 cup water

Sourdough Loaf

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Instructions

Sourdough Starter

  • Fill a larger plastic or glass container with 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water. Stir until thoroughly combined into a smooth batter. Cover with a loosely screwed on lid or plastic wrap.

  • “Feed” your starter 4 ounces of water and flour, stirring until combined, every 24 hours. It should start to smell sour after a few days, but room temperature can affect how quickly it activates. The texture will change from a pancake dough batter to an airy, lighter batter over the first 5 days.

  • By day 5, or once it smells sour and is airy and doubling in volume, it is ready to use in your preferred sourdough bread recipe.

  • Continue to feed the starter daily with 5 tablespoons each of both flour and water. Always leave at least 2 tablespoons of starter behind as you use it for baking.

Sourdough Loaf

  • In a large mixing bowl, use a wooden spoon to stir together 3 1/2 cups flour (675 grams) and 2 1/2 cups water (592 milliliters). Use your hands once it becomes too difficult to stir.

  • Cover and let the dough rest for 45 minutes.

  • After 45 minutes, stir in 1 tablespoon salt (13 grams) and 1/2 cup of your starter (100 grams). Mix in by hand until combined, but do not do any extra kneading.

  • First Rise: Cover and let rise 12-24 hours, until double in size. Colder temperatures require the longer end of this range, while summertime warm temperatures require around 12 hours. This is done overnight.

  • Second Rise: turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured service. Fold it over a few times into the center. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl or to a floured proofing basket. Let it rise for 3-5 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when you poke it lightly with your finger and the indent remains, or only very slowly springs back while still leaving an indent. If the dough springs right back, it needs more time to rise.

  • Put a dutch oven into the oven and preheat to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Flip your dough from your basket/bowl onto a large piece of parchment paper. Use that excess parchment paper to help lift the dough into the dutch oven. Put lid on and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake until bread is a deep brown, approximately 30 more minutes.

  • Once the bread is a deep brown, turn off oven and crack the door. Let your bread cool in the cracked oven for 20 minutes before removing from oven and dutch oven, and putting on a cooling rack. Let the bread cool completely to allow texture and flavor to develop completely before slicing.

Notes

  • PRO TIP: Put a baking sheet under your dutch oven  when you remove the lid, and bake for the remaining time this way. This will ensure the bottom of the bread doesn’t get too dark or burn. 
  • If you want to only make bread once each week or less, keep your starter stored in the fridge. 2 days before you’re ready to make bread, remove it from the fridge and feed and leave on the counter. 24 hours later, feed it again. It could take anywhere from 2-5 hours for the starter to be fully active and ready to use after that second feed. Once it is fully active and doubled in size, you are ready to bake. Make sure to feed your starter after each discard or use.

Course: Bread

Keyword: Sourdough Bread

Baked loaf of sourdough bread on a black wire cooling rack

Get New Recipes Sent To Your Inbox!

Join my newsletter and get new mouth watering recipes sent directly to you weekly!



Source link

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.