How to make Sourdough bread
- CREATING A STARTER -You can make your own starter (see our guide here), or you can put off by all this work, you can simply get some from an established batch. We do sell some fresh starter at the store here.
- FEEDING A STARTER – To care for a starter, keep in in the fridge unless you’re using it daily. Once a week, take it out and feed it that way: discard all but 15 g of starter (1 Tbsp). Mix in 30 g of flour (3 Tbsp) and 30 gr of water (2 Tbsp). Return to the fridge or keep feeding every day this way until you make your bread. You can see our video here.
- 2 days before you want to make bread (or more), take the starter out of the fridge and feed it for a couple of days. Make sure your starter double in size within 12 hours of feeding time, or else, keep feeding daily until it does. If your starter doesn’t rise that much, you bread won’t be rising either. The day before making your dough, make your leaven (see below). Feed another 1 Tbsp / 15 gr of this remaining starter a ratio of 1-2-2, starter, flour and water. The next day go on with making your bread and keep feeding the extra starter or place it in the fridge.
BASIC RUSTIC SOURDOUGH RECIPE
Plan to get started two days before you want bread. 99% of this time is inactive waiting, with only about 40 minutes total work. This is a tentative schedule for how I’d make bread.
- 9:00 p.m. Friday- Make leaven
- 10:00 a.m. Saturday- Make bread dough
- 10:30 a.m. Saturday- First fold
- 2:00 p.m. Saturday- Place dough in fridge
- 8:00 a.m. Sunday – Bake
STEP 1 – MAKING THE LEAVEN
A couple days before you want to make bread, take the starter out and feed it as above. Two nights before you want bread, you’ll need to make the leaven (a word from French to “give rise”). This is usually the last thing I do before I go to bed. Take out about 1Tbsp. / or 20gr of your starter that you have fed the day before, and mix it with 40 g of room temperature water and 40g of flour (white, whole grain, spelt, or a combo, whatever you prefer as long as the flour to water ration is 1:1).Cover the bowl with a plate and leave it on the counter to ferment overnight (a minimum of 8-12 hours). The next morning you know you can begin making bread if you pinch a little bit of the leaven off and it can float on the water’s surface (this means it’s full of fermented gas). If the ball of dough sinks, let the leaven sit out a little longer to ferment. If you can’t get to making bread until later in the evening, that shouldn’t be too big of a problem.
SOURDOUGH LOAF RECIPE: INGREDIENTS
8 grams sea salt (1.5 Tsp)
500 grams flour (I like 75% white bread flour and 25% whole grain-but use any ratio)*
100 grams leaven (made the night before)
350 grams water (room temperature) split 325 gr + 25 gr
*The more white/sifted flour used means you’ll have a lighter loaf – the more whole grain, the denser.
STEP 2 – MIX + AUTOLYSE
Once your leaven is ready you can get started on the bread. Combine 100 g of the leaven with 325 g of water. Add the flour to the water mixture and using your hands mix to combine. Once mixed, cover with a tea towel and let sit anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour. This gives the flour time to absorb the water and is called an ‘autolyse”. After the dough has had time to rest, add the remaining 25 g of water and the salt. Mix well until combined. If you want flavours or seeds in your bread, add them now.
STEP 3 – TURNING
After you’ve mixed in the salt you can do your first fold. To do this begin by getting your hands damp (it’s less sticky that way) and reach under the dough on the opposite side of the bowl from you. Pull the dough up and over towards you. Repeat this 4 times, turning your bowl ¼ to the right every time, so you’ll do a total of 4 folds. Think of it as wrapping a package. This completes one “fold”. You will do one of these complete “folds” every 30 minutes for 3 to 6 hours. After the last fold, let the bread sit for a final 20-30 minutes. You can keep folding this way for longer, if you feel like your bread is not gaining volume.
STEP 4 – SHAPING
First, get your banneton dusted with flour (a no gluten flour is better, such as rice flour. It will prevent sticking), or layer a clean tea towel in a medium mixing bowl and dust the cloth liberally with rice flour.
To begin to shape your dough, gently scoop it out of the bowl, on a lightly wet countertop, and form into a rough rectangle. Then gently fold the dough up like a burrito, then flip it over so that it’s seam side down and use you hands to cup and roll the dough. I like to use a metal bench scrapper to roll the dough on the counter, less sticking to your hands. You want to make as much surface tension as possible without tearing the outside of the loaf. Once shaped, turn the loaf into the lined and floured bowl (top down). Gently flour the top of the loaf (which is in fact the bottom) before covering with the edges of the towel.
STEP 5 – FERMENTATION
Pop this loaf in the fridge overnight for a next day’s bake. You can keep a loaf in the fridge for 2 or 3 days, the longer you’re fermenting the bread, the sourer and more digestible it is. But you don’t want to ferment more than 72hrs. If you don’t want to retard your loaf to bake it later, and the temperature of your kitchen is quite warm (22 C), let it rise on the counter (in the prepared bowl) for 3-4 hours.
STEP 6 – BAKING
PREHEATING– The next day, take one of the racks out of your oven to create space. Place your dutch oven in the oven and preheat the oven to 500 F (or as hot as your oven can go, up to 500F).
BAKING – When your oven is fully heated, take your bread out of the fridge. Working fast, take your dutch oven out of the oven carefully. Remove the lid and sprinkle the bottom with flour. Gently invert the dough onto the dutch oven. With your lame or knife, gently score bread. This allows the loaf to expand and prevents any bulges. Cover the pot with the lid (be careful, it’s hot!) and put the entire dutch oven back into the oven. After the 20 minutes are up, gently take the lid off the dutch oven (be careful of steam) and bake for another 20- 25 minutes at 450F. After 40 min total of bake, your break is fully cooked. Leave longer in the oven if you want a darker, crustier outside.
Once cooked, remove the pot from the oven and gently lift out the loaf with a spatula. It is very tempting to cut a slice right away, but the best is to wait 2 to 3 hours before slicing, otherwise, you will crush the still hot and chewy dough!
STORING – If the loaf is whole, I don’t wrap it, but if it is cut, I like to wrap it in a cotton bag, or just leaving the cut side down on a cutting board. What you don’t want to do is wrap your bread in plastic (which will soften any crust) or put in the fridge, which will dry it out and cause it to go mouldy faster).
DISCARD – Feeling bad about discarding sourdough starter every time you feed it? I keep a jar in my fridge, where I keep adding the discard, and on the week-end, we make pancakes with it! See my recipe on my website. For more recipe inspiration, just browse the net, lots of bakers came up with recipes!
What you don’t want to do is to pour it down the drain! It’s like plaster, it would clog your sink! Through it in the compost is best.
MISCELLANEOUS – Here is a list of equipment that make the sourdough process easier, with links to find them online! You don’t need it all, so I sorted it from the most important to least.
- digital scale
- one glass jar to keep your starter (big enough for your starter to expand)
- shallow mixing bowl with lid or plastic cover, for mixing
- 5 quarts of bigger dutch oven
- Oven mitts
- metal dough scraper for dividing, shaping dough
- rice flour to sprinkle on your cloth prior to proofing
- bread knife
- bread lame for scoring. Or disposable lame here.
- proofing basket: large round, small round or long shape
- proofing basket liner: large round, small round or long shape
- rubber spatula for mixing
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Enjoy the sourdough journey!