I remember a girl in one of my uni classes talking about making her own sourdough. She was kind of hippyish, spoke multiple languages and had been to an alternative school. Apparently you could buy a kit from the supermarket, and get a starter culture, whatever that was. That was the first time I really remember thinking about sourdough bread. A bit weird and unlikely to show up in my baking repertoire any time soon.
5 years (woah – really?!), a new workplace, a cookbook and permanent obsession with healthy food later and I’m here telling you that you can indeed make your own sourdough!
Fair warning, it’s not easy at first and its not that quick or simple but totally, incredibly worth it! I feel very strongly that you should experience the pleasure of pulling a crusty, warm and delicious smelling loaf of bread out of your own oven.
So lets make some bread together!
You will need:
- Flour (I use a mix of White Spelt, Wholemeal Spelt, Plain Unbleached Baker’s flour and occasionally Rye) for beginners stick with ‘whiter’ flours for now, it’s just easier.
- Something to bake in (dutch oven, oven safe casserole dish with a lid, cast iron pans) Whatever it is needs to have a lid and be big enough for the size loaf you plan to make.
- Something to ‘prove’ in, a banneton (mine is from here) or a bowl lined with a tea towel
- Something flat and sharp to lift dough with, a bench scraper is ideal but a large BBQ spatula also works.
Still with me? Great! Let’s get to it then.
MAKE THE SOURDOUGH STARTER
- Make a mix of plain wheat flour and wholemeal wheat flour (50/50)
- In a container, mix equal parts warm water and flour (100 grams each) with fingers thoroughly
- Cover with tea towel, sit on bench until it bubbles and puffs (2-3 days)
Feeding the starter:
- Discard more than half and add fresh equal amounts flour and water (50 grams each)
- Do this once a day for a few days until it smells sour, bubbling, rising and falling during the day (if you notice)
MAKE THE BREAD
Day before/morning of the day you mix the dough (2 days before baking)
- Remove more than half of the starter and add fresh amount of flour and water (100 grams each)
Next day/later that day
- In a large bowl add 700 grams flour (this is to fit my 800g size basket, for a smaller dough do less and adjust accordingly)
- Add 500 grams water (heated to 25 C)
- Add 150 grams starter
- Mix with a spoon to combine (pretty sticky and messy at first)
Mixing/Folding (Takes 3 hours)
- After 20 minutes add 1 tablespoon salt, dip your hand in a bowl of water and fold the dough. mixing in the salt
- After another 30 minutes-1 hour, wet hand, pick up the dough from underneath, lift and fold over itself to gently ‘mix’
- Repeat 4- 5 times, until increased 30%, soft and billowy
Line a mixing bowl with a tea towel and coat generously with flour, or prepare banneton.
- Dump the dough on the floured surface, keep flour close by to coat hands, bench and dough.
- Form gently into a round shape, dust with flour and let rest on the bench for 20 minutes covered with tea towel
“Starting at the side closest to you, pull the bottom 2 corners of the dough down toward you, then fold them up into the middle third of the dough. Repeat this action on the right and left sides, pulling the edges out and folding them in over the center. Finally, lift the top corners up and fold down over previous folds. (Imagine folding a piece of paper in on itself from all 4 sides.) Roll dough over so the folded side becomes the bottom of the loaf. Shape into a smooth, taut ball.”
Here I am shaping bread, tediously flouring and entertaining my small child in the background. – Video.
- Transfer to lined bowl and let rise for 4 hours (room temp) or overnight in fridge. ( I recommend overnight)
- Pre heat the oven with your chosen vessel inside i,t as hot as possible- 240C (at least 20 minutes)
- Remove pot, flip the bread upside down from the basket, score some lines in the dough (use a very sharp knife/razor blade and just break the surface of the dough) put lid back on pot and return to oven
- Bake for 25 minutes, remove lid, there should be steam inside the pot during this time
- Bake for another 20 minutes until crusty and brown, remove from the oven and tap the bottom of the bread to check that it sounds hollow.
There you go. Delicious, fresh and wholesome bread ready for a hefty slather of butter!
Good luck everyone!
If you need some more inspiration or information check out these websites