Recipe: Sourdough Bread

Recipe: Sourdough Bread
Photo by Artur Rutkowski / Unsplash

In 2020 I started making sourdough bread - the BEST thing I did.

Not only did it provide comfort to our bellies in the cold winter months during lockdowns, but it was also actually so beneficial to my mental health.

Go figure!

Well, in this post, I'm going to share with you the recipe I used and also, the best youtube videos to help me troubleshoot my errors in the early days when I was perfecting the craft.

From June 2020 to November 2020, I made sourdough every. single. day. and I would rotate my recipe between a plain sourdough loaf, to a fruit loaf with dried fruit (containing sultanas and dried apricot), the last recipe was an olive sourdough loaf (with kalamata olives).
They were all scrumptious loaves in their own right, and everyone in the house had their favourite.

The key to making the perfect sourdough is time and temperature, and I'll just warn you now... your first few loaves won't be perfect, but that's okay - mine wasn't. You learn the touch and feel of making sourdough by practice.

As you can see by these photos, my first loaves were FAR from perfect! They didn't rise like or even taste like an artisan loaf of sourdough. But with practice I got better, tweaking what I did as I went once I realised what effects the rise and crumb of the bread.

I share the pics that aren't pretty so you aren't completely disappointed and defeated should one of your first loaves turn out like this. It should give you hope to persevere and the courage to not give up.

So now let me walk you through my method.

What you'll need:

  • 150 grams of starter > Before getting started, make sure you've got your sourdough mother/starter ready - if you don't know how to make your starter, watch this video, I found it really helpful and set me on the right track
  • 350 grams of plain flour
  • 150 wholemeal flour - stoneground, rye, spelt or buckwheat are all suitable - (this is optional, but I found my loaves were much more satisfying and less constipating when using a ratio of at least 2:1 plain & wholemeal flour - I eventually used 50% plain and 50% wholemeal)
  • 325 milliliters of lukewarm filtered water
  • 11 grams of salt
  • a dutch oven
  • digital scales
  • large deep bowl
  • sharp knife, razor or lame to score the dough before placing in the oven
  • banneton basket (this is what gives your loaf those lovely indents as it rests)
  • Optional: poppy, chia or sesame seeds for the crust
  • Glass of water
  • NB: you must avoid the use of any metal utensils as this kills the wild yeast in the starter - plastic or glass ONLY

Method:

  • In a large bowl mix the lukewarm water and salt together adding the starter and mix to combine (I use my fingers)
  • Add the flour and mix until combined
  • Sprinkle down some flour on your workbench, then knead for 8 minutes - this forms the gluten structure for your bread. The dough will feel very wet, to begin with, but don't be tempted to add more flour, it will come together well after a few minutes of kneading (to ensure you've kneaded enough, pick up some of the dough by pinching and if it stretches to be a thin membrane but doesn't split or break, you've kneaded the dough enough. 👍🏼)
  • Pop the dough back in the bowl -  this is where you can add your fruit or olives, and gently fold through
  • Cover your bowl with a cloth and let sit for 30 minutes
  • Stretch & fold method: After 30 minutes, pick up a corner of the dough and fold, repeat on the other 3 corners and fold to the other side of the bowl every half an hour for a total of 2 hours
  • If you're perplexed by the folding concept, watch this video by Mike from Pro Home Cooks - he'll sort you out.
  • Once the stretch & fold process has been done 4 times and been allowed to rest for another half hour, tip out your dough on the counter and now you'll prepare the dough for the crust by applying surface tension - watch this video for a visual demonstration on how from Steve at The Happy Pear
  • Once the crust has been developed you can roll the dough through poppy, sesame, or chia seeds on one side only
  • Dust your banneton basket with flour then place the dough face down into the basket
  • Cover and place in the fridge to prove overnight

Next day:

  • Remove the dough from the fridge, allowing it to get to room temperature
  • You'll know if it's perfectly proved by poking it gently with your finger and if the dough springs back - if the dough doesn't spring back, it's over proved. But this shouldn't happen, because if you've left it in the fridge overnight to prove, the cool temp of the fridge will have avoided this
  • Pre-heat your oven to 230-250ºC fan-forced (depending on the heat of your oven) and place the dutch oven inside while it preheats.
  • Once it reaches its temperature, use some baking paper and cut out a long enough piece to lift your dough into the dutch oven
  • Place the dough on top of the baking paper and score with a sharp knife
  • Quickly but carefully, remove the dutch oven from the oven, remove the lid, and lift the dough on the baking paper into the dutch oven, using the long sides as handles ensuring all of the baking paper is under the lid of the dutch oven before putting your bread in the oven  
  • Put the dutch oven into the oven, and quickly throw your glass of water on the lid of the dutch oven before carefully and quickly closing the oven door.
  • IMPORTANT: Cook with the lid on for 30 minutes at 250ºC, then remove the lid, turn the oven down to 220-230ºC and cook for a further 10-15 minutes.

Your sourdough starter is so handy, a literal wild yeast of your own environment to use for many other foods for your family.

Some of the other foods I have made with my sourdough starter:

Pancakes, Bagels, Foccacia, Soft tortilla wraps and pizza bases.

If you always wished you could make your own bread (think of the money you'd save)... now's your chance. How funny to think what our great-grandparents used to do, is now back in Vogue!

It's so much better for you to make your own sourdough...

...no preservatives, increased fermentation (necessary for your body's hydrochloric acid production) and it actually tastes like bread!

The members of my household suffer from bloating or wheat intolerances, as many people do...

...each of us noticed less bloating from eating the sourdough as opposed to the heaviness and bloating you'd feel after eating the bread you'd get at the supermarket.

In this post I have demonstrated how easy it is to make your own, it's cheaper... and it's better for you!

You've got no more excuses - go get baking!

Thanks:

I'd love to thank my friend Stafford for encouraging me to make sourdough bread in the first place. Stafford pointed me in the right direction when it came to purchasing the right types of flour and he also came around and taught me to make my first loaf. Thank you, Stafford! 🙏🏼


Got questions or need help?

Feel free to email me at anniecatterall@icloud.com if you're in need of support or have any questions.