Sourdough Bread How-To

 

This is a follow-up to my post on making sourdough starter.  Let's just jump right in, shall we? From Starterlandia to:

Breadville

Before you begin making your dough, test to see if your starter will be able to adequately leaven your bread. You can do this by filling a cup with water, taking a spoonful of starter, and dropping it into the water. If it floats...YAY...it's time to make bread! If it sinks, well, not to worry! You can either go ahead and see what kind of loaf your starter produces, or give it a few more days to mature. Wabi-sabi, yo!

Another thing to note: generally wetter doughs produce a crumb (the inside of the bread) with bigger holes, while drier/firmer doughs with less hydration have a denser crumb. Put in more or less water or flour to your liking. One thing to note, however, a dough that is too moist might not rise properly in the oven (in my experience).

Let's do this:

Tools

  • Large bowl
  • Dutch oven or oven-safe pot with lid
  • Large spoon or Danish dough whisk (optional but so useful!)
  • Bowl scraper (also optional but incredibly helpful for removing the dough from the bowl and cleaning up your work surface)
  • Flour shaker (optional too, I use this to sprinkle flour on my work surface. This is definitely the least important of my optional tools)

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 (wetter dough) to 3 1/2 (drier dough) cups all-purpose flour (you can also use 1 cup wheat and 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups all-purpose)
  • 1/4 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups purified water (I just use tap water that's been left out over night so that any chlorine can evaporate)

Instructions

1. In a large bowl mix together water and sourdough starter, stirring until the starter is totally dissolved in the water.

2. Next, add flour(s) and salt to the solution and mix to combine. The dough should be tacky but not too moist. If it is, add more flour. Cover with a towel, saran wrap, or a bag. Let sit for 18-24 hours.

3. Heavily flour your work surface and your hands. Place your dough in the center of the flour and gently spread it out across your surface. Sprinkle a wee bit of flour atop it. You want to fold the dough into thirds on top of itself and then in half again until it forms something of a ball. Wash and dry your bowl, then turn it upside down and use it to cover your dough. Let it rest for 15 minutes. 

4. Uncover the dough and flour the bowl. Transfer the ball of dough (seam side down) into the bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel, saran wrap, or a bag. Let rise for 2 hours (it's okay if you let it rest longer but don't leave it too long). The dough should grow and when you poke it with your finger, it should not spring back quickly.

5. After an hour and a half of rising, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees and place your dutch oven or pot (with lid on) inside the oven to pre-heat as well. After thirty minutes, carefully remove your hot pot from the oven, sprinkle flour in the bottom of the pot, and gently place your dough inside (seam side down again). Add a couple slits to the top of the dough to make it pretty, sprinkle with a touch more flour, and cover again with the lid quickly. If you want the dough to have a smoother finish, skip the sprinkling with flour and instead use a brush dipped in water and lightly coat the surface of the bread.

6. Put the pot back into the oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. After the thirty minutes, remove the lid and bake for an additional 15-25 minutes until the loaf is lightly browned on top.

 7. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for an hour or so. Enjoy!