Homemade sourdough bread
To get started on your sourdough bread you will first need to make your “starter” a few days ahead of time...don’t worry, you only need to do this once as your new friend should live on as long as you take good care of them. Please note that while there are many different ways to make sourdough this recipe works best with 12.5% bread flour...I use King Arthur and it has always turned out great. Please note that it is also ideal to have a kitchen scale and mason style glass jar with a lid for starter storing. It is also recommended to use a Dutch oven for baking.
Quick note before we get started...this recipe will feel very long, detailed and to be honest like way too much work for a loaf of bread. But I promise you, it is very simple once you go through the process once or twice and the taste alone will have you wanting to bake another loaf.
- Bread flour
- Salt - Water (distilled or spring is best)
To make your starter: Fill a small bowl about halfway with warm water, add a big handful of flour and mix together until the batter becomes thick with no clumps. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let sit on the counter out of direct sunlight for about 2-3 days. After a few days you should expect your starter to be bubbly and possibly have a crust on top. Gently pull the crust back and add 10 grams of the mixture to a glass jar and discard the rest. Next add 50 grams of room temperature water (I keep a bottle of spring water in the pantry) and 50 grams of bread flour to the mixture and mix well scraping down the sides of the jar and protect with the lid on. This is your new friend, your starter, so make sure to give them a name! Each day you will “feed” your starter by removing and adding. You will notice every day that your starter has grown and can get quite bubbly...this is good and means they are hungry. It is best to feed it around the same time each day but that is not always necessary.
Each day you will remove about 90% of your starter leaving 10 grams and then add 50 grams of room temperature water and 50 grams of bread flour and mix together well.
Please note- I like to add the water before the flour as I feel it is easier to mix and the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom as much. I would recommend feeding your starter for a good week before you decide to bake a loaf of bread so it has time to get adjusted. It is also very important to stick with the same brand/type of flour or your starter may get very, very sick.
Time to bake some bread: There will be a little bit of prep the day before you bake so make sure to plan accordingly. I highly recommend waiting to feed your starter AFTER this quick process to ensure your starter is ready and that you have enough. The night before you plan to bake you will have to make what is called your “leaven”. Right before bed (the day prior to baking) take about 2 spoonful's of your starter and add to a medium size (preferably glass) bowl and add 1 cup of bread flour and 1 cup of your room temperature spring or distilled water. Mix well, cover with saran wrap and let sit on the counter overnight while it does its magic. Now is the perfect time to remove all but 10 grams of starter in your jar and feed as usual.
When you wake your leaven should look very bubbly, light and even a bit frothy. Place a larger bowl on your scale and measure out 100 grams of the leaven and discard the rest (unless you become ambitious and choose to bake more than one!) Add 350 grams of warm water (around 80 degrees) and using your hand swirl the leaven around until it has all dissolved in the water. Next add 500 grams of bread flour and using your hands mix well until everything is incorporated with no dry spots. Cover with saran wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes measure 12 grams of fine textured sea salt with 25 grams of warm water (about 80 degrees) and mix well until most of the salt has dissolved. Pour this salty water over the dough and work it in with your hands until the dough becomes somewhat smooth. Place your saran wrap back over the bowl and let sit for 5 1⁄2 hours. But wait! You will still need to tend to your dough here and there over the course of this time...
About every 30-60 minutes remove saran wrap and stretch the dough by grabbing the top of end straight up letting it stretch and doubling it over to the bottom end. Do this one more time grabbing the left side of the dough ball, stretching it as high as it can go and doubling it over to the right side. Two stretches are typically good enough each time you do this as you will be able to feel less give with each stretch.
After the 5 1⁄2 hours remove the dough from the bowl and place on a well-floured surface, shape into a ball, cover with the saran wrap and let sit for 20 minutes. After this “bench rest” gently flip your dough ball over (it will be sticky!) Fold the top third down into the middle and the bottom third up like a book. Fold one side in and then flip the dough over and shape back into a ball. Place your dough ball into a fresh bowl that has been WELL floured (I love my banneton basket from Amazon). Using a mix of bread flour and rice flour here is very helpful. Cover your bowl or basket and let sit for 2-2 1⁄2 hours or at this point you can put this in the refrigerator overnight to bake first thing the next morning. It is FINALLY time to bake...
Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place your Dutch oven (both top and bottom) in to heat up. When the oven is preheated and ready CAREFULLY remove your HOT Dutch oven and place your dough ball inside seam side down. Scour the top of the dough with a sharp knife or lame (if your fancy, haha) or if you want to use my method just go for a pair of kitchen scissors. I typically snip 3 connecting cuts right down the middle going into the dough ball about 1-2 inches deep. You can look up designer scouring techniques on the internet if you are feeling extra creative as there are some really beautiful designs out there.
Once you have scoured your dough quickly put the lid back on and put in the oven immediately lowering the oven temperature to 475 degrees. Cook for 24 minutes then carefully remove the lid as quickly as possible and continue baking for about 22-24 more minutes. Please note- you will want a nice dark crust, not burnt but I would suggest letting it stay into until it at the least looks like a nice medium shade of brown. Once your bread is finished baking carefully remove from the Dutch oven and let cool on a cooling rack for at least an hour (if you can wait!) as it will be much easier to cut once it has cooled.
Your fresh sourdough will have its best life up to about 4-5 days but ours is typically gone within the first few!
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