Basic Sourdough - the original, full-flavored bread.

Basic sourdough is anything but basic. Full of flavor, good bacteria, and gentle on the digestive system, true sourdough bread is a nutritious answer to regular store-bought whole wheat or white bread.

 

Basic sourdough uses only flour, water, salt and yeast (starter) and uses time to develop the flavor and structure of the dough.

 

Sourdough can have a mild or a stronger taste, depending on your starter and the length of time you allow the dough to ferment.  

 

This recipe makes 1 loaf of basic, full-flavored sourdough bread. The dough is not kneaded, but stretched and folded to gently create a strong, light gluten structure.

 

Double the recipe for two loaves.

Ingredients                                       Weights

3 cups bread or all-purpose flour         400g   (100%)

1 1/2 cups warm water                            300g   (75% hydration)  

1/4 - 1/2 cup active starter                    50g     (12.5% of flour weight)

1 1/2 tsp salt                                                8g       (2% of flour weight)

 

 

 

 

Directions

This recipe uses a rest without salt for the first part of the mixing/rising process.  Sourdough raises much more slowly than doughs with commercial yeast. Sourdough will raise better and faster if the room temperature is above 72-75 degrees. Be patient. Good sourdough bread takes time and time creates flavor.

 

Part 1 - Mix by Hand - (Water, Starter, Flour)

Mix together the water and the starter till just combined.  Add all flour and mix just until no dry flour is seen, no kneading, just a quick mix.  Let this initial dough rest for 30-40 minutes to allow the flour and water to soak without the salt and for the starter to begin activating the dough. Salt can inhibit gluten structure at the beginning of the mix, so we add the salt in the next step.

 

Part 2 - Add Salt

1 1/2 tsp or 8g salt 

Combine the salt with the dough until well combined.  If mixing by hand, squeeze the dough with fingers as the salt is added until the dough comes together.  Dough should be soft, but not sticky.  At this point, add a bit more flour if too soft, or a bit more water if the dough is too stiff.

 

Part 3 - Stretch and Fold - Rest the Dough

Let the dough rest for 2 hours to continue gluten development.  Every 30 minutes during this rest, stretch the dough 3-4 times.  Put your hand all the way to the bottom of the dough and pull the dough up until it starts to resist, then pull the dough over itself.  Turn 1/4 turn and repeat 3 more times until you have stretched all the way around the dough.  Notice as the dough progresses through each set of stretches over these 2-3 hours, it becomes more soft, extensible, and when stretched, how the gluten is strengthened each time. 

 

Part 4 - Shaping the Dough

After the last stretch and fold, let the dough rest 30 minutes to allow the dough to relax one more time.

  1. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter/board. Using both hands, gently stretch dough left and right, fold right over middle, then left over middle.

  2. From top, roll farthest end towards you, roll/press, roll/press. Seal toward bottom end.

  3. Shape dough using hands or dough scraper (tighten/strengthen top of loaf (add tension).

  4. Place in banneton/bowl or bread pan for final rise. Cover the dough so that it doesn't dry out while proofing/rising.

  5. Let rise in 75+ degree environment until dough springs back slowly (will be a few hours on the counter).

  6. Or – place in fridge overnight until you have time to bake. Leaving the dough covered in the fridge will slow down the rise of the dough and as the dough continues to ferment, will create great flavor. 

 

Part 5 - Bake

Dutch Oven or Clay Cloche – generates steam, crispy crust)

  1. Heat oven and container to 450 degrees

  2. Score/cut the loaf (create weak area to allow bread to rise as it bakes).

  3. Place loaf in baking pan, bake for 25 minutes, remove lid, bake an additional 6 – 7 minutes or until loaf reaches 200 degrees and is nicely browned.

  4. Remove loaf from pan, cool for 1 – 2 hours.

 

Baking Stone/Steel – generate steam, crispy crust - (an empty pan placed below the baking stone will help create steam.)

  1. Heat oven, baking stone/steel and empty pan to 450 degrees.

  2. Score/cut the loaf (create weak area to allow bread to rise as it bakes).

  3. Place loaf on the stone/steel, pour water into the empty pan (creates steam) and close the oven door. Bake for 25 minutes, turn loaf around, bake an additional 6 – 7 minutes or until loaf reaches 200 degrees and is nicely browned.

  4. Remove loaf from oven cool for 1 – 2 hours.

 

Bread Pan - sandwich bread)

  1. Heat oven to 350 - 400 degrees (higher temp will brown loaf quicker = crispy crust)

  2. Bake for 25 minutes, rotate loaf, bake an additional 7 – 10 minutes or until loaf reaches 200 degrees and is nicely browned.

  3. Remove loaf from pan, cool for 1 – 2 hours.

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