Here is our recipe for Homemade Artisan Sourdough Bread and an account of my progress from hopeless amateur bread baker to regular achiever of professional results!
I’ve always wanted to bake bread. My previous experience with bread baking consisted of a few attempts at no-knead bread, some crusty dinner rolls, and some Portuguese rolls; I finally decided to take my baking skills seriously and try my hand at an artisan loaf.
Learning how to make sourdough bread made perfect sense, as we frequently eat avocado toast or morning PB&J for breakfast and slice a few pieces for snacking on cheese and olives before dinner.
A Quick And Simple Passion Project
Baking bread is more than just following a recipe. The amount of time spent actively doing the activity is minimal compared to the amount of time spent providing the necessary care and attention throughout the day.
Unlike the trendy no-knead bread recipes of the past year, this one requires some elbow grease. But you’ll find that the extra time and work are well worth it when it comes to bread.
Sourdough baking is a great weekly ritual because it can be done in the background while doing other chores or working from home. Baking sourdough could be the perfect hobby if you have an hour and a half each day to spare away from work.
- 375g of unbleached bread flour
- 375g of water
- 125g of whole wheat flour
- 120g of sourdough starter (100% hydration)
- 13g of fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
Begin Fermenting Your Starter For Sourdough Bread.
- The starter must first be fermented to increase its potency. Remove the starting from the fridge and mix in 60 grams of lukewarm water together with 60 grams of bread flour or whole wheat flour. (As a point of comparison, I maintain a minimum of 70 g of starter.)
- Wait 4 hours, or until it has doubled in size and is starting to fall again, before uncovering it again. This indicates full power.
- Hooch is the name given to the liquid floating on top of your starter when you remove it from the refrigerator. When yeast is starved, it creates this alcohol (i.e., flour). Hooch can’t form if bread is baked often (and the starting is fed frequently).
- If you want your sourdough to taste less harsh, just drain it off; if you want it to taste more sour, just stir it back in. While it’s a matter of personal preference, the hooch may leave your bread bitter, so you may want to dump it before serving.
Autolyzation Time For Flour And Water Mixture
- Now that your sourdough has been fed and is actively fermenting, you may measure the flour. The best and most accurate tool for this job is a digital scale; to make this recipe, place a mixing bowl on the scale, zero it out, add 375 grams of bread flour, reset the weight, and add 125 grams of whole wheat flour (500 g total).
- The flours should be mixed using a stiff rubber spatula. Pour in 375 g of water, preferably measured with a scale. The scattered dough should result from thoroughly combining flour and water. There’s no reason to force the issue now. Wait 90 minutes before touching the dough or until your sourdough starter is ready.
- Cover with a clean plastic bag (i.e. up to 4 hours).
Combine The Sourdough Starter With The Rested Dough
- Once it has reached full bloom, incorporate 120 grams of the sourdough starter into the basin containing the dough’s resting liquid. (Refresh the starter with 15 grams of water and 15 grams of flour, cover it back up, and store it in the fridge for use in future loaves.)
- Blend the dough and starter together by folding and mixing with a stiff rubber spatula for two to three minutes. Inevitably, the dough will be extremely sticky. Cover the dough with the clean plastic bag for the second resting period of 30 minutes.
Add Salt And Lift, Stretch, And Fold The Dough For The First Proof
- Spread half of the salt over the dough. Wet your fingers and grab a little piece of dough off the bowl’s edge; use your other hand to stabilize the bowl. Raise the dough up and over, stretching and folding it over to the other side. Scatter the remaining salt over the dough and give it another stretching and folding.
- The bowl should be lifted, stretched, and folded repeatedly (four or five times total), each involving a rotation. Salt tightens gluten, making it less elastic as it is worked into the dough.
- Pick up the dough ball from the bowl, drop it, fold it over, and push it down in a motion that’s similar to kneading. Repeat this process for another two to three minutes or until the salt has been fully integrated into the dough.
- For a restful hour, wrap yourself in a clean plastic bag and hide from the world. This initiates the initial rise or primary fermentation. Since 75 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius) is optimal for dough, if your home is on the cooler side, you can place the dough in the oven along with a basin of freshly boiled water to keep it warm and wet.
Lift, Stretch, Fold, And Rest The Dough For Four Hours
- Once the dough has reached the point where it is no longer easily stretched or lifts entirely out of the bowl, remove the plastic wrap, wet your fingers, and repeat the lift, stretch, and fold action 6 or 7 more times. This time, when you fold, let the dough softly collapse in on itself. Never degas (squeeze the air out of) the dough by pressing it. To rest the dough, wrap it in plastic and let it sit for 45 minutes.
- Repeat the stretching, folding, and resting routine three more times in the next couple of hours. After each round of rising, your dough will be larger. It will become less sticky and lighter in weight. After the fourth attempt, bubbles should begin to develop. When the dough stretches easily without ripping, you know you have a good amount of gluten developed.
- Return the dough to the covered bowl and let it rest for another hour after the last stretch and fold. You want the dough to rise to roughly 1.5-2 times its original size and feel light and airy after baking. If you’re still not convinced, you can give it another stretch, lift, and fold before letting it proof for another hour.
To Proof The Dough, Form It Into Bags And Place Them In The Proofin Basket
- When you’re ready to move on to the next stage with the dough, remove it from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured counter or work surface. Toss the dough and let it slowly fall onto the counter as gravity does its thing. Avoid squashing the air bubbles that have developed in the dough by working too quickly.
- Coat your hands in flour. Softly grip the dough on the side opposite you and pull it away from you. Then, fold it in on itself, toward you, until it’s centered in the dough. Using a floured dough scraper, gently pry the dough away from the counter if it has stuck.
- Now, pick up the top half of the dough. Fold it in half horizontally and then slightly to the right. To prevent the dough from drying out, add enough water so that it will stick together. Repeat on the left side, stretching it slightly to the left before folding it to the middle.
- Last but not least, grab the nearest dough’s base with both hands. Pull slightly towards yourself as you roll and fold it away from you (there should be some tension on the dough). If you want to refine the shape of the dough after rolling, you can do so by gliding your dough scraper under it very lightly. By applying strain in this way, you can form it into a round or oval boule.
- To finish, sprinkle the dough with seeds, or, if you’d rather not, dust it with flour. You should use a proofing basket with a cloth lining and dust it with all-purpose flour (approximately 2 teaspoons). A dough scraper should be slid beneath the right side of the dough while the top of the loaf is being held up by the left hand. Lift the dough with your left hand and flip it over into the floured proving basket.
- You should use the plastic bag to cover the dough in the proving basket. Wait until the beer can be poured from a fingertip after 90 minutes of proofing at room temperature (preferably, 75°F/23°C). Use a floured finger to press down on the dough. More proofing at room temperature is required if it fully recovers after being deflated. It’s ready for the fridge if it springs back slightly but still leaves an impression.
Cold Ferment Your Dough Overnight
- Cold ferment the dough in the fridge for at least a few hours, preferably more than a day (still covered with a plastic bag). Keep your dough in the fridge for at least 8 hours to cold ferment. The most effective time frame has been no more than 14 hours. You can experiment with longer ferments to achieve a more “sour” flavor in the dough once you have mastered the recipe.
To Bake Sourdough, Start The Following Morning
- Put an empty Dutch oven on the oven’s middle rack (with the lid on). To begin, set the temperature to 232 degrees Celsius (or 450 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Preheat the oven and the heavy cast-iron Dutch oven for at least 30 minutes, depending on the oven. Make sure to give the Dutch oven at least 20-30 minutes to heat up to temperature, even if your oven says it’s already warmed.
- Make sure the parchment paper square is big enough so that you can grip both sides and easily lift the loaf. Crinkle the parchment paper on all four sides to prevent it from curling. Putting aside.
- Get ready a square of sturdy aluminum foil by wrinkling it and folding it in half to make air pockets between the layers. Line the Dutch oven with foil to prevent the bread from burning or drying out.
- After the oven and Dutch oven have heated to their proper baking temperatures, you can start making bread.
- Putting cold dough into a hot Dutch oven yields the best oven spring (i.e. rise when baking), therefore, don’t remove it too soon.
- Invert the cold loaf carefully onto the parchment paper. In a slow, steady motion, lift the proofing basket/banneton straight up until the cloth lining releases from the loaf and the loaf is fully out of the basket.
- Cut four small slashes into the lower part of the four sides of the loaf using a sharp knife. By doing so, part of the surface tension will be relieved, making it more elastic after baking. Once you have your loaf shaped, cut a single, deep slice across the top. It should be about half an inch (1 cm) deep and run from end to end, stopping about an inch (2.5 cm) from the edge on both ends.
- With oven mitts, transfer the hot Dutch oven to the cooktop and take off the lid. Cover the base of the pot with crumpled foil.
- Carefully lower your bread into a preheated Dutch oven by lifting it by the parchment paper at both ends. It’s acceptable for the parchment paper to stick out. Be sure the slice you made at the top of the bread is correct. Avoid the hot saucepan and carefully run the razor through it again if it has stuck together and closed up.
- Dutch oven back into the oven, covered. Keep your bread in the oven for 35 minutes with the lid on.
- Take the lid off the Dutch oven after 35 minutes and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. It’s up to you whether to keep the oven at a steady 450 degrees Fahrenheit (232 degrees Celsius) or to switch it off and use the remaining heat. Cook it for an extra 5 minutes if you prefer a darker, crispier crust.
- To move the Dutch oven from the oven to the stovetop, you should wear oven mitts. Raising it by its parchment paper, move the loaf to a wire rack to cool. Leave it to cool for at least 20-30 minutes, or until it’s warm to the touch but not hot, and then dig in.
Notes & Tips:
- We prefer a digital scale because conversions from grams to cups and spoons differ.
- Slice your bread with a bread knife for the finest results. A good bread knife is sharp and serrated so that you can see through your loaf of bread.
- To keep the bread fresh for as long as possible, wait until it has cooled before putting it in a container or bag.