Sourdough Bread

by Claudia Hill

A little about where this hobby began:

My sourdough love began out of necessity. Due to a global pandemic that hit our part of the world March 2020, the grocery stores in our state were clear out of bread, yeast and flour. Having 4 hungry men living, working and studying under the same roof called for creative problem solving. Luckily I had buckets of flour saved in our basement and my husbands secretary kindly gifted us a sourdough starter that had been in their families care for 42 years. Little did I know that making sourdough bread followed in the footsteps of pioneers and dates back clear to early Egypt.

Learning the art of bread baking using only 4 ingredients involved lots of trial and error on my part. The step by step video below walks you through the basics once you have a sourdough starter in your possession.

Making this type of bread has been therapeutic for me. The process is lengthy but not difficult. It’s also very forgiving so if you skip a step or don’t measure exactly right, it somehow still works out great! Making loaves for friends and family has been the perfect pick me up during a challenging year. The nutritional value that this type of bread provides is definitely an added bonus!

Hope this is helpful to someone out there. Feel free to reach out for further clarification 🍞 ❤️

SOURDOUGH BASICS (STEP BY STEP VIDEO BELOW)

INGREDIENTS

There are only 4 ingredients you will need to make this bread:

1. Sourdough starter- You can make your own by following a recipe online (I have never done it this way but I know it is possible) or message me and I will send you a tablespoon of mine.

2. Flour- I LOVE Lehi Roller Mills  Unbleached Bread Flour which I purchase in bulk at Costco. If you don’t have access to this use a quality unbleached and unbromated bread or all purpose flour. I use bread flour. Some people use all-purpose and some use half bread and half all-purpose. Experiment to see what you like best. 

3. Water- Good ‘ole lukewarm tap water works perfectly. 

4. Salt- I LOVE Redmond Real Salt which can be found on Amazon or on the Redmond website. It has such a nice flavor that will make your bread taste so good! It is worth the price for high flavor, high quality salt!

SUPPLIES NEEDED

-Glass jars with lids. I really like this combo of different sized Weck jars for starter and leaven. 

-Small food scale- found at Target or Walmart or your local grocery store

-Large plastic bowl preferably with a lid or a bucket with a lid

Plastic spatula or long handle spreader for stirring in jars and for scooping out starter and leaven

-Dutch Oven- I purchased a Le Creuset Dutch Oven 5.5 qt  that I use all the time from TJ Max/ Homegoods. They can also be found at Sur La Table or Crate & Barrel. They are BEAUTIFUL but are also twice the price. Lodge brand has an awesome enameled cast iron pot that can be found at Target for $100. Costco is now carrying a set of two enameled dutch ovens -7 quart & 4 quart for $70. As long as it’s deep and cast iron any will work just fine. It’s a definite investment but one that you will get plenty of use out of and not just for baking amazing bread!  

-A small plastic food scraper tool that can be found for under $5 on Amazon.

-Parchment paper which can be found at your local grocery store or on Amazon

-Lastly and optional is a bread lame for scoring bread and banneton baskets for rising and shaping dough. I prefer the 10 inch or 9 inch banneton baskets. They add a nice pattern to the bread and when floured properly make the perfect place for the bread to rise during the final phase. 

TIMING

Making sourdough bread takes time. Not a ton of hands on time, just babysitting the bread on the counter type of time. Because there isn’t any traditional “yeast” in the bread, the bacteria needs time to work through the gluten and create the bubbles needed to make the dough rise.

I always tell people to be patient with this process as it can take time not only to master the art of making the bread but also time to master the timing of the rising.  

I usually feed my starter 1st thing in the morning and allow to rise 3-6 hours. I turn that starter into leaven in the late afternoon and allow it to rise all day. I always put mine in the fridge overnight if I am not going to use it right away. If I am using it in the morning the next day, I allow it to get to room temperature on the counter until it’s bubbly and active. Then I am ready to start the actual bread making process.

Warmer temperatures speed up fermentation and cold temperatures slow it down. So you can always “pause” wherever you are in the process by putting the starter or leaven or dough in the fridge. Remember, this is an art form and takes time to get your own unique style. Luckily, sourdough is very forgiving and you really can’t mess it up to bad 🙂

THE MEASUREMENTS (FOR TWO LOAVES)

For feeding the STARTER:

50g water

10g starter 

50g flour

For building the LEAVEN: (Put into a larger clean jar)

135g water

27g starter

135 flour

For making the DOUGH: (This will be done once leaven is active and bubbly in a large bowl or bucket) 

590g water

270g leaven

Leaven should be floating on top of the water. Stir. Then add 

900g flour

Stir a couple turns and then add:

 20g salt 

THE PROCESS  *(See my video for step by step instruction till you get the hang of it. I will add timestamps below)

Step 1: FEED STARTER a day or two before baking day. Measurements are above. Always make sure it’s at room temperature when ready to build leaven.

Step 2: BUILD LEAVEN in a clean jar. See above for measurements. I always start by measuring water on food scale 1st. Next, add the right amount of starter. Stir. Next, add flour. Stir. Allow to rise in jar with lid on till double. This typically takes 4-6-8 hours depending on the warmth of your kitchen. You can use the leftover starter for pancakes or other recipes buy labeling a jar in your fridge “starter discard” or discard it altogether. You will use left over starter from your leaven jar to repeat the “feed the starter” process. Save left over leaven from jar to create a NEW starter. All you need is 10 grams.

Step 2: BUILDING THE DOUGH. Once leaven is active- using a food scale add water using the above “making the dough” measurements. Next add leaven, this should be the entire content of jar. Use your small rubber spatula or long handle spreader to get enough out to hit the measurement as noted above. 

(Side note:You should have exactly enough left (10 grams) by scraping the sides to re-create a starter. I take a minute to add the leftover starter to a new clean jar and build a new starter. 10g starter, 50g water, 50g flour. Stir, cover and set aside or put in fridge for future use. Starter should be fed every 7-10 days or used to make more dough another day.) 

After water and leaven are stirred, add above flour measurement (900g). Stir a couple turns then add salt. DO NOT FORGET TO ADD SALT. Stir with wooden spoon or dough hook or by hand till it’s all mixed together nicely. No need to knead thoroughly. Just make sure there is no separate flour or water in the bowl or container.

Allow to rest (covered) for about 30 minutes before proceeding to the next step which is Stretch & Fold.

Step 3: STRETCH & FOLD. Once your leaven, flour, salt, and water are fully incorporated allow to rest for about 15- 30 minutes with lid or cover on. Next, wet your hand (so that dough doesn’t stick to it) and pull the dough up from the side and gently push it into the center or opposite edge. Give the bowl a one-quarter turn and repeat: stretch the dough upward and fold it over toward the center or opposite edge. This will help to improve the dough and build tension. I do this 4 times roughly every 30 minutes. The timing on this is very loose. I usually set a timer on my phone to help me remember this step. It’s okay if you don’t do it all 4 times. 

Step 4: BULK RISE …also known as the first rise..this will take 4-6 hours for your dough to roughly double in size depending on temperature of your kitchen. You can “pause” this step by putting your dough in the fridge overnight. Dough should have doubled during this step.

Step 5: SHAPE the dough.  Once your dough has doubled, gently pour your dough onto a floured surface and shape into two balls. Make sure dough is at room temperature at this point. Your goal here is to create a nice tight “gluten skin” around your loaf. See video for how I do this using push, turn, pull technique. After about 15 minutes of it resting on the counter I pull it and shape it like a pizza and fold it into itself on all 4 sides like a burrito. See video for this step as well. Allow to rest on the counter for a few minutes and repeat above step then place dough balls seam side up into  floured bowls or banneton baskets. Your loaf will take the shape of whatever container you use. Cover with a tea towel or liner that comes with banneton baskets. Allow to rise.

Step 6: PROOFING. Allow to sit for SECOND RISE  in floured bowls or banneton for 4-6 hours or place back in fridge covered with a plastic bag if you want to “pause” and do the baking tomorrow.

Step 7: PREHEAT the oven to 420- 425 degrees with dutch oven (lid on) inside oven. Every oven is different so you might have to play around with temperature and baking times.

Step 8: FLIP DOUGH GENTLY OUT OF BASKET OR BOWL ONTO PARCHMENT PAPER & SCORE your dough using either a very sharp knife, a razor blade, or a lame. Put a little flour over the surface of the bread before scoring to get a nice score. You have to be a little more aggressive than you think using a knife or lame to get a good cut or design. 

Step 9: Carefully remove Dutch Oven from oven and BAKE the bread along with parchment paper in the Dutch oven at 420-425 degrees for 20 minutes (depending on your oven). Remove the lid and bake an additional 20 minutes until it’s golden brown.  

Step 10: Carefully REMOVE from oven and pots & COOL on wire rack. Don’t store in a plastic bag when even slightly warm or the crust will get soft and bread could get soggy. Place in plastic bag or container once completely cooled. 

Tip: The most expensive part of baking bread is having the oven on for so long. I recommended getting a second Dutch Oven so that you can bake 2 loaves at once. One to keep and one to freeze or give away 🙂

Please message me with ANY questions. Send me picture of your masterpiece or tag me on social media. Have fun creating something that’s been made for centuries! It’s a worthy endeavor that will bless you, your family and loved ones for generations to come! Happy baking!

Step by step tutorial

Timestamp for Video:

  • 0:15 How to build starter
  • 2:35 Starter review
  • 3:38 How to build the leaven
  • 6:30 How to build the dough
  • 12:10 Stretch & fold technique
  • 13:35 Shaping the dough
  • 21:48 Proofing
  • 25:10 Scoring
  • 27:35 Adding to Dutch Oven
  • 28:12 Bake
  • 28:20 Grand finale

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1 comment

Heather Tycksen April 8, 2021 - 12:22 pm

Can’t WAIT to try making this bread! The loaf you gave me was so yummy!!

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