The Art of Sourdough: Baking Delicious Bread at Home
Sourdough bread has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many people turning to this traditional method of baking for its delicious taste and health benefits. Making sourdough bread at home may seem daunting (trust me, I never imagined myself as a sourdough bread baker & it seemed too intimidating for me to even try) but with some patience and practice, anyone can become a master baker!
In this blog, we will explore the art of sourdough and provide you with tips and techniques to help you create delicious bread right in your own kitchen!
the basics of sourdough bread:
Sourdough bread is a type of bread that is made using a natural fermentation process instead of traditional yeasts found in store-bought bread. The bread is made from a combination of flour and water, which is then left to ferment with naturally occurring yeast and bacteria. This fermentation process can take several hours or even days, and it is what gives sourdough bread its unique flavor and texture. Sourdough bread is also known for its health benefits, as it is easier to digest and has a lower glycemic index than other types of bread. It is a popular choice for those who are looking for a healthier and more flavorful alternative to traditional bread!
The first step to making sourdough bread at home is making your sourdough starter! You can absolutely make your sourdough starter from scratch with water & flour – it can take about two weeks to make a starter ready to bake bread.
If you're wanting to take a little shortcut (raises hand) then you can also purchase dehydrated sourdough starter online! This is the route I took because baking the bread alone seemed so daunting, that taking out this step made it feel more attainable for me! Since the starter already has active cultures established, you'll be ready to bake bread much faster - in as little as a few days after rehydrating your starter!
I purchased my sourdough starter from Ballerina Farm - although you can find lots of options online, fb marketplace, and etsy! If you prefer to make your sourdough starter from scratch, Farmhouse on Boone has a great recipe!
You can also snag an entire sourdough kit from ballerina Farm that comes iwth several accessories!
feeding your starter:
As you lead up to baking bread, you'll be feeding your sourdough starter daily! Here's how I feed my starter:
- 30 grams sourdough starter
- 125 grams water
- 140 grams unbleached flour
Combine everything in a glass mason jar or weck canning jar (my personal favorite) and cover. This spatula is the best for sourdough & scraping down your jars. Keep on your kitchen counter to grow & ferment!
When I'm not baking, I keep my sourdough in the fridge! You do not need to feed it as long as it stays in the fridge. 2-3 days before I'm ready to bake bread, I take it out of the fridge to warm back up & feed it a few times before I bake.
making sourdough bread
How do you know when your sourdough starter is ready to bake with?
You'll know your sourdough starter is read to use when you feed it and after 6-12 hours, it doubles in size and is super bubbly! Another way to check to see if your starter is ready is to perform the float test. Add a dollop of your active starter to a glass of room temperature water – if it floats, it's ready! If it doesn't it's not quite active enough.
Once your starter is super bubbly & active, you're ready to make bread!
what you'll need:
active sourdough starter
food scale (grams)
475 degree oven
cast iron pot
This recipe makes two loaves of sourdough bread!
First, zero out your food scale & add 680 grams of water to your large bowl. Next, add your active sourdough starter to the water (remember, it should float in the water if it's ready). I don't typically measure this part, but you can aim for 150-230 grams of sourdough starter. Just make sure to leave enough to feed & continue your starter for next time!
Mix the sourdough starter into the water with your hand - gently agitating the water until the sourdough is dissolved and water is bubbly.
Zero out your scale again & add 1,000 grams unbleached flour to your sourdough & water mixture. I use King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, but feel free to use any flour you want. This part will get a little messy, but start incorporating the flour with your hands (you can use a bread hook as well, but I prefer to use my hands). You don't want to knead here, just mix until the mixture is incorporated. Cover with a flour sack towel (these are my favorite) and set aside for 30 minutes.
While your flour, water, & sourdough mixture is resting for 30 minutes, take this time to feed what is left of your sourdough starter (the unused portion)! Instructions on feeding your starter are above.
Next, zero out your scale again and add 20 grams of water and 20 grams of salt to a small bowl. I prefer to use this natural mineral sea salt.Set this aside until your 30 minutes is up.
After 30 minutes, add the salt & water mixture to your dough. Pinch in with your fingers. The dough will be slightly difficult to work with at this point, but stay patient! As you continue to work & knead the dough, it will become stretchier and stickier. Knead the dough for 6-7 minutes until stretchy & soft.
Next up, stretch & folds! We'll be doing this 3-4 times every hour.
Stretching and folding is a technique used in sourdough bread baking to help develop gluten and improve the bread's texture and structure. It involves gently stretching the dough out and then folding it back onto itself, repeating the process several times during the bread-making process. This technique helps redistribute the yeast and bacteria in the dough, which can improve the fermentation process and lead to a better rise and more complex flavor.
Make sure to watch my tutorial on how to stretch & fold your bread! Repeat the stretch & folds every hour (approx.) 3-4 times.
You're almost there friend! Our next step is dividing out our dough into two loaves. Take your dough out of the bowl and place on a cleaned & floured counter. Divide evenly into two separate balls of dough.
Taking one loaf at a time, gently stretch and roll out into a square/rectangle pizza. Again, watch my tutorial video if you're a visual person! You'll then tri-fold over itself and then roll-up like a cinnamon roll and scoop/roll into a round loaf. Place in a proofing basket & cover with a flour sack towel.
You can repeat the shaping process one other time if you wish (I recommend, if you have time).
After shaping your loaves, cover them with plastic wrap or a shower cap and place in your fridge to ferment overnight.
After an overnight ferment, your loaves will be ready to bake! Preheat your oven to 475 degrees & place your cast iron pot (or whatever you're using to bake with) in the oven to preheat.
Once your oven is ready, take your first loaf out of the fridge and place onto unbleached parchment paper. Sprinkle flour over the top of your bread, gently rub in, and then score using a bread lame! I like to place one large score from top to bottom on one side of my loaf, and then a smaller (less deep) score on the other side from top to bottom. You can add lots of fun details here, so get creative!
Bake covered for 20 minutes, and then uncover your pot and bake for an additional 20 minutes with the lid off. You should end up with a perfectly golden brown loaf!
you did it!
Yay, you did it! You just baked homemade sourdough bread! Lots of people will tell you to wait until it's completely cool to cut into it – but after all that work, I say there are no rules! For me, there's nothing better than cutting in & enjoying a warm slice of buttered sourdough bread!
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