How to Make Sourdough Bread
- For Beginners
Before You Begin:
- Stay Calm. You can only learn, so do not fear messing up.
- Write out the recipe in your own writing on a big piece of paper. This will help you remember it and be able to reference it easily when you need it. Pin it to the side of your fridge, or on the inside of a cupboard to reference when you bake.
- Find a rhythm that works for you. I always begin by proofing my starter in afternoon, and begin the process of baking about 1 1/2 hours before bed. That way I can complete the process when I wake up in the morning, store in fridge and the take it out in time to bake for dinner
- Starter care is where most people go wrong. Make sure you re-proof your starter every time before you bake.
- Less is more. Let the bread do the work. You gently guide it through these steps, but don’t over work anything.
- The tools you need: 1) a proofing bowl ( a bowl with a kitchen towel/linen) 2) a baking pot with a lid such as a dutch oven 3) measuring cups/spoons or scale 4) A scoring knife (regular kitchen knife could work) 5) parchment paper 6) mason jar + lid for starter 7) Elastic band to measure starters growth 8) Extra towel 9) Scraper for the sticky dough. I bought this kit. This dutch oven is great. But its not necessary. A pot with a lid will do.
How to Make the Starter:
- If you already have a starter, fabulous! You can move onto the next step.
- If you need a sourdough starter because you do not have one, you can make one.
On day one, mix one cup (100 g) of flour and one cup (100g) filtered water. Stir vigorously, making sure to scrape down the sides and incorporate everything. Place a clean tea towel over the bowl and set aside. Allow it to sit for 24 hours.
On day two, discard half of the mixture (leaving about 1/2 cup or 50 g) and repeat the process. Add one cup flour (100 g), one cup water (100g), stir vigorously, and cover.
Why do you have to remove half the mixture? By day four, you would have sourdough starter overflowing from your bowl. Also, removing half ensures that the right amount of flour and water is feeding the growing colony of beneficial yeast. If you weren’t discarding half, the cup of flour wouldn’t be enough to feed them on days three and four. Basically, you would end up with a lot of extra starter by the end of the process, and none of it would be mature. (NOTE: When discarding starter, keep it for pizza dough or flat bread)
- Repeat the day two instructions for days three, four, and five.
- On days six and seven, do the same but feed it every 12 hours, instead of every 24.
By day seven, there should be enough beneficial bacteria and yeast present to bake sourdough bread and other fermented sourdough goodies, like pancakes and english muffins.
You will know it’s working if it bubbles, and doubles in size.
This process is found on the website The Clever Carrot. I added a few helpful notes and measurements.
- Be patient. My starter took 21 days before it started to poof!! But once it did, it has been perfect ever since 🙂 So be patient. Keep adding the flour and water every day until it doubles in size!
- When you stir the flour and water together, and then discard some starter, use the same cutlery / spoons and wash them right away so the dough doesn’t harden on those utensils.
- Also, every time you discard your sourdough, don’t throw it out!! Use it to make pizza dough! Or make Za’atar! Which is a flat bread done on the stove top with salt and spices! I always use the starter that I dis-guard, not throw it out.
How to Maintain Your Starter (& Keep it alive):
Every time before you bake you must proof/feed the starter culture.
How to Proof/Feed Your Starter:
- Discard sourdough starter leaving only 1 cup of starter (about 100 to 150g)
- Add 1/2 cup flour (50g) and 1/2 cup water (50ml) to that starter
- Mix it all together with a fork or chopstick, and then leave on the counter with the lid on (and a towel for warmth in the winter)
- Mark the level with an elastic band after feeding so you can observe it’s behavior.
- Within 3 to 6 hours it will double in size (it might take longer, it might not always double.)
- Look for the bubbles. The bubbles tell you its alive and happy and ready to bake with!
Picture used with permission from bread_pete
- Once you use up your starter, add more flour and water as mentioned above, and then once proofs you can bake some more or pop in the fridge.
- If you are storing in fridge, make sure to feed it in this way once a week.
- Read this blog as a helpful resource to maintain your starter.
How to Bake the Bread:
Before Baking PROOF your starter. See notes above.
The best thing to do is go through the videos and write out the steps in your own handwriting and on one page. You can reference this paper every time you bake, and glance at it through every step in the baking process. At some point you won’t need these notes, but when first learning, it helps a lot!
I wrote out “How to Bake Sourdough Bread” on a piece of paper and I reference this paper when I bake. Here is mine.
PRINT THIS OUT FOR REFERENCE
Trust yourself, bread making is fun and you will feel so accomplished and happy when you do it 🙂 Let me know how you bread making experience is by contributing to the conversation in our Whole And Healthy Living Group on Facebook.
Baking Sourdough Bread Video
I do series like this very often! And Ella often joins me too. Hope they are helpful to show you the baking bread process. Like us on Facebook, Join our private Group where we are doing a Series on Sourdough Bread (all videos and resources are saved in there, and follow us on Instagram for more videos.
Resources & Final Thoughts on Baking:
- Get yourself a book called BREAD by J Hamelman
Its enough for a few years of baking.
- Be patient and never ignore the science behind it.
- Join some baker’s groups on Facebook, watch videos on youtube and instagram.
- But most importantly: BAKE!
Only through practice and experience will you get better