“Making bread is nothing more than breeding microscopic animals” Lion Poilane (Leader, 173)
Sourdough bread is formed through a fermentation process of the dough, resulting in a tangy and easy-to-digest loaf. Begin making your own today!
Making your own sourdough bread is a process that takes practice to master. As you continue to make your own loaves, you will find natural adjustments to improve the quality of your bread. The results are well worth the effort!
Makes 1 Loaf (Total Time: 9-12hrs Day 1;4 hours
Day 2 Active Time: 1 hour Day 1; 15 minutes Day 2)
- 100 g starter; fed and at peak activity
- 375g white bread flour
- 75g whole wheat flour
- 375g water + 25g water
- 25g salt
- Banneton or Colander and Tea Towel
- Bench scraper
- Dutch Oven, if using the Dutch Oven method to cook
- Kitchen Scale
- Lame or Razor or something to score bread
- Plastic wrap
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 375g white bread flour, 75g whole wheat flour, and 375g water until well-mixed and all flour is hydrated.
Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (the dough can be left out for several hours if your starter is not yet active). This step is known as autolyze and is important, as mixing the flours and water together will give the dough the opportunity to start breaking down on itself and helps to build gluten.
2. Add 100g starter at peak activity on top of the dough. Gently begin to pinch the culture into the dough to fully incorporate, about 5 minutes. Round off the dough into a ball shape in the bowl, and let rest for 30 minutes. When baking, the wild yeast is referred to as Levin.
3. Add 25g salt and 25g water to mixture, and pinch until incorporated.
4. For the next step, remove the dough from the bowl and place on a slightly damped surface. With the help of a wetted bench scraper, gently pick up the dough. With some force, slap the dough onto the counter, then shape and repeat. This method is known as slap and fold. Video Demonstration: Slap and Fold
Repeat this process several times until the dough begins to hold its shape a bit better, about 5 minutes. Place back into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 30 minutes.
5. It is now time to laminate your dough. Turn out dough onto a slightly wet surface, seam-side up. Using wetted hands, gently pull the dough from the middle, stretching into a rectangular shape. Video Demonstration: How to Laminate Dough
6. Fold the top third of the dough and the bottom third of the dough, meeting in the middle.
7. Fold over the sides
8. Round off dough and place into a lightly oiled pan, covering. Let rest for 30 minutes.
9. At this stage, we will begin a series of stretch and folds. We will let our sourdough slowly proof, adding strength during the process by building gluten through manipulating the dough. Video Demonstration: Stretch and Fold
Lightly oil or wet your hands. Scoop the dough out of the container by the middle, lifting carefully.
Gently stretch out the dough and fold it onto itself, beginning with the top, right, left, and finally the bottom.
10. Place dough back into oiled container, cover, and let sit in a warm area for 30 minutes.
11. Repeat the stretch and fold process every 30 minutes until at least 6 turns have been completed. I find that my sourdough becomes much less slack after 8-12 stretch and folds, depending on the temperature and humidity of the room.
12. Prepare Banneton for dough by liberally applying with flour. If you do not have a Banneton, you can use a colander (or any type of basket with good airflow) topped with a clean tea towel instead.
Dust the tea towel liberally with flour.
13. Using a bench scraper, carefully remove the dough from the container onto a lightly floured surface.
14. Pre-shape the dough into a round shape. Lightly dust the surface of the dough with flour. Cover, and let rest on the counter for 10 minutes.
15. Lightly flour part of the countertop in front of the dough. Flip the dough away from you so that the bottom of the dough is now covered in flour.
16. Gently tug the dough to stretch. Perform one last stretch and fold
17. Let rest on the counter, seam-side down, until seam has closed, about 2-5 minutes.
18. With the help of your bench scraper, shape your dough.
Transfer the dough to the Banneton, seam-side up.
Flour the seam-side of the sourdough and cover with the rest of the floured tea towel.
19. Place dough in a cool fridge overnight for a slow and final proofing.
Day 2: Baking Day
Method 1: Dutch Oven
1. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a Dutch Oven, including tabs. This will allow for easy removal of the bread after it is baked. Place parchment paper on a plate and flour.
2. Place an empty Dutch Oven with the lid on into a cold oven. Heat oven to 500 degrees, about 1 hour.
3. When oven is heated, remove the dough from the fridge. Flip the dough out of the Banneton or basket onto the floured piece of parchment paper. The seam-side of the dough should be touching the parchment paper.
4. Using a lame (or something sharp for scoring), score the top of the sourdough, about ¾ inches away from the sides. You can be creative during this process or simply score down the middle.
5. Remove the Dutch Oven from the oven and remove the lid. Carefully place parchment paper with dough on it into the Dutch Oven. Put the lid back on, and place vessel in the oven to cook for 15 minutes.
Continue cooking for 30-40 minutes until the bread is deep brown and sounds hollow when knocking on the bottom.
7. Remove bread from the Dutch Oven. Transfer to a cooling rack, and allow to cool for at least 2 hours before cutting and serving.
Method 2: Cooking Sourdough Bread without a Dutch Oven
Making sourdough bread is possible without a Dutch Oven. Loaves may not get as much spring or look as aesthetically pleasing as using a Dutch Oven, but there is no change in the taste!
- Cookie Sheet
- Oven-safe flat-bottomed pan
1. In a cool oven, adjust racks, lowering the bottom rack as low as possible and placing the top rack near the top of the oven, allowing room for bread to rise.
2. Place a cookie tray and flipped-over pan with a flat bottom in the oven. Heat oven to 500 degrees.
3. Once the oven has reached 500 degrees, Remove the pan from the oven and lightly coat the flipped bottom with flour.
4. Remove dough from refrigerator and flip out onto the flipped oven pan.
5. Score the bread, and spritz water around the bread with a water sprayer.
6. Place dough in the oven. Spritz with water once more.
7. Using the bottom tray, add ice cubes and close the oven. This will help to create a steamy environment reminiscent of the environment that would occur in the Dutch Oven.
8. Bake for 20 minutes, and add more ice to the cookie tray. Cook 15-30 more minutes until bread is golden and the bottom sounds hollow.
9. Remove bread from the oven and place on a cooling rack to cool at least 2 hours before cutting and serving.
Troubleshooting with Sourdough Culture
- Too little yeast in the culture may result in under-developed bread. To avoid this, make sure your starter is at its peak when using it for recipes.
- Too little acid in the culture, and the bread won’t benefit from the sour flavor. Acidity builds as the culture ferments. Ensure the original starter has been active for at least 5 days before using it to bake to avoid a lack of acidity.
- Too much acidity and the culture will slow down the growth of wild yeast. To avoid too much acidity developing, make sure to feed your culture on a regular schedule.
- Sourdough bread needs warmer temperatures to proof. At least 70 degrees is necessary, but sourdough bread will thrive between 80-85 degrees. If your environment is cooler, proof sourdough bread in a warm place, such as inside the oven with the light turned on.
- Use a timer to ensure bulk fermentation stretch and folds are done at 30-minute intervals
- Keep a tally of folds so you will not lose track of the number of stretch and folds during the bulk fermentation process.
Titles to Explore at the Library
- Living Bread by Daniel Leader
- Crumb: Show the Dough who’s Boss by Richard Bertinet
- Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart
- Amy’s Bread by Amy Scherber and Toy Kim Dupree
- Ultimate Bread by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno
- Sourdough by Robin Sloan
- Full Proof Baking. “How To Make a Basic Open Crumb Sourdough Bread.” YouTube, uploaded by Full-Proof Baking, 24 Jan 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1JEjW0QSnQ.
- How to Stretch and Fold Sourdough. (2020, May 15). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYzxu1QY1Gc
- “It’s Alive with Brad – Brad and Claire Make Sourdough Bread.” Bon Appetit Videos, uploaded by Bon Appetit, 15 Mar. 2018, www.bonappetit.com/video/watch/brad-and-claire-make-sourdough-bread.
- Kneading with slap and fold. (2020, January 9). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzxdxuvaCO
- Leader, Daniel. “Sourdough.” Living Bread: Tradition and Innovation in Artisan Bread Making, Avery, 2019, p.173.
- THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LAMINATING SOURDOUGH. (2020, April 21). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nztji3srjQ