Okay, now that you’ve spent some time getting to know your Sourdough Starter (does it have a name?), you’re ready to bake some bread!
How To Make Sourdough Bread
First, you must make leaven from your starter. This is the agent that will cause the bread to rise and give it that delicious defining sour flavor.
FOR THE LEAVEN:
- 1 tablespoon starter
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup water
In a large bowl, mix it until it forms a paste and let it sit overnight (at least 12 hours) to form another bubbly starter. To test if its ready, do the float test, scoop a teaspoon out and put it in a cup of water. If it floats it’s ready, if not, leave it to rest a few more hours, it may also need to be put in a warmer place.
After your leaven is ready, it’s finally time to bake and be the envy of your friends on social media.
- 2 ¼ cups of water (divided)
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 5 1/2 cups of all purpose or bread flour
- Take ¼ cup of water and add the salt. Stir until salt dissolves. Set aside for later.
- With your leaven in a large bowl, add 2 cups of warm water (80 F degrees) to the leaven and stir.
- Add 5 1/2 cups of flour to the leaven+water mixture. Mix with a spoon until it forms a shaggy dough. Do not over mix.
- Let the dough rest 1 – 1 ½ hours. This is the autolyse phase. It’s the resting period where the water starts to absorb to fully hydrate the flour and allows fermentation to continue to give it that great sour flavor, and the gluten to bond to cut down on kneading time.
- After dough has rested, add the fully dissolved salt water to the dough. With clean hands, mix the dough, squeezing the salt water in, making it a loose, slippery dough.
- Let rest 30 minutes.
- Knead the dough, in the bowl, folding it over itself about 4 times and let it rest another 30 minutes.
- Dump dough onto a floured surface and turn it, folding it over itself about 6 times. Put it back in the bowl to rest another 30 minutes.
- Repeat Step 8 three more times. After the last folding, leave the dough to rest and rise for a little over an hour. It won’t quite double in size but it will puff up like a mushroom cap.
- Turn the dough on a floured surface and divide in half. Knead each half for a few minutes and shape the dough into rounds, place each into separate floured bowls and cover them with a clean towel. Let them rise about 1 ½ hours, or until nice and puffed up, almost double in size.
- Toward the end of the rise time, preheat oven.
- If baking in Dutch ovens, preheat to 500 F degrees and place them in the oven during preheating.
- If you’re using a baking sheet, loaf pan, or casserole dish, preheat oven to 450 F degrees.
- Once the oven is preheated:
- Remove the Dutch ovens, placing the dough rounds inside. Add a dusting of sifted flour on top of the rounds and then carefully score with 3 quick slashes using a sharp knife. Top with Dutch oven lids and bake for 20 minutes.
- If using a baking sheet, loaf pan, or casserole dish, shape dough, dusting with sifted flower on top, and make 3 quick slashes using a sharp knife. Bake at 450 F degrees for 30 minutes until internal temp is 200 F degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- To finish baking in Dutch ovens, lower the oven temperature to 450 F, remove the lids, and bake the loaves for another 10 minutes until internal temperature is 200 F degrees.
In the end, you should have a beautiful golden loaf with a crunchy crust and a dense, yet somewhat airy, chewy texture with a perfect, and not overly pungent, sour flavor.
Let it cool, slice, and serve! Make your favorite sandwich or simply slather it with butter. And get started on another round of loaves, this one is sure to go fast.