Like many when covid happened in Spring of 2020, I entered the sourdough world (to make up for the limits of the bread loaves that were offered on the market then).
And gahh, how incredibly glad I am that I did!
I've enjoyed sharing my sourdough babies with you on social media, and many have been asking about my process. So here goes my little story and recipe!
You'll find the short version of the recipe at the bottom of this page.
After 2 failed attempts at making my own sourdough starter*, I got frustrated and went to look for someone who had some to trade instead.
*if you don't know what I'm talking about : the starter is like natural yeast. It's a paste made of fermented flour and water, and you "feed" it (meaning you add water and flour, usually doubling its volume) before every use. This way you always keep some over for the next bake. So your starter is something that you need to get once, and then care for forever <3
I'm in a facebook group of the village where I live, and I asked the question there : anyone having a little extra sourdough starter, to trade for baby plants?
(spring was in full bloom and I had hundreds of lovely varieties to offer).
After 5min (for real!) I had my match, and hopped on my bike to meet my new sourdough baby!
From there I made my first baking experiment, following the tutorial explained in this video.
And that was the start of a true love story !
My sourdough bread recipe
I procrastinated for awhile myself, before I felt brave enough to give it a try. I felt a little anxious, concentrating so hard while following all these many steps the first time. But then the second time it all felt much more familiar. And the third time it was already becoming natural and I intuitive. I got hooked!
I wish everyone the joy of making your own bread this way :)
It is actually way more simple than it sounds, and funnily will only take you veeery little time! Each step is a super quick step (often of a few seconds only). I believe I need about 20-30min in total for the entire process (excluding cooking time).
So if you think that might be something for you, I encourage you to be brave and give it a first try, you'll see! :)
Time wise, for my process I would say you need to be home for about 3 hours in the morning, 30min in the evening, and 1h-1h30 the next morning. So take that into account when you plan your process.
Ingredients for a rather big loaf :
- 500gr flour (I use simple organic white wheat, and have seen that the more plain the flour you use is, the less the bread might rise)
- 350gr water (I use filtered tap water)
- 80gr active starter
- 8gr salt
(If your brain doesn't understand grams, you can convert them here)
Step 1 : activate your starter
Tip : I've once weighed the pot that contains my starter when it was empty, and wrote the corresponding number on the pot. Now I just need to weight the entire pot, and subtract the weight of the empty pot, to know the weight of my starter inside.
I place a rubber band around the pot to mark where it is at, so I can see its rise the next morning, and make sure the tap is a little open so that the air can move around freely. I leave the pot somewhere in the kitchen, away from sun rays.
Step 2 :
In a big bowl I mix the 500gr flour with the 350gr water - first with a big wooden spoon, then finishing with my hand.
Tip : if you make your hand wet before touching the dough it will have less tendency to become a sticky mess.
Then I cover it with a bowl cover (I got mine from Pica Verde) though a simple towel will do too : maybe use two to avoid the moist from your dough to evaporate too much.
And let it rest for 30-40min.
Step 3 :
You wait about 30min, then repeat the stretch and fold process (I stretch and fold maybe 5-10x at this stage, until I feel the dough has tension).
Do this stretch and fold motion, with ± 30min rest between each time, about 3 to 5x in total. It takes just a few seconds each time, but you need to be home to do it :)
You will notice how the dough becomes smoother and smoother each time, and will start to feel how doing the stretch and fold awakens the gluten and creates tension in the dough.
I absolutely love this stage, and the smell of dough is heaven!
Now the main step is done. I usually wait until the end of the day, letting the dough rest peacefully in its (covered) bowl for 4-11h.
Step 4 :
I turn it upside down (all the folded bits facing down), and let it rest under a towel for 30min.
Step 5 :
Uncover your dough, and flatten it a little with you hands.
Get 1/3 from the upper side and fold it to the center. Do the same with the lower third, to shape some kind of long tube.
Place it vertically towards you, and starting from below the tube, start rolling it all the way up, trying to create some last tension in the dough as you do so.
I like to then bend both sides towards the bottom of the ball, to create a rounder shape and join all the folded bits together
Step 6 :
(you can convert celsius degrees to something your brain understands here)
I usually consider my oven hot enough after 30-40min.
Get oven paper the size of your dutch oven, place it on your dough (which is cold from the fridge), and turn it upside down, to have the nice even round part facing up.
Time for the scoring (where you cut lines to help the bread open where you want) :
you can go many ways, from very simple to complex patterns.
I will describe several techniques I've enjoyed further below.
After you've done your chosen scoring, get your dutch oven, hot hot hot from the oven, put your dough in it, place the lid, and get it back in the oven. The time is a question of feeling/preference/experience :
generally I bake it for a total of ±35min
- 20min at 250°C,
- then about 10min at 225°C,
- and I like to get the bread out of the dutch oven and bake it for a few last minutes naked in the oven.
If you want the bread to last longer, wait until is has cooled before you open it. Mine tends to keep well for about 7-10 days (but is usually devoured before that ~ I like to bake ± every 6 days).
Some more tips/infos
Ideally, use a razor blade for clean sharp cuts - though if you're doing simple deep lines, a kitchen knife will do.
Tip : if you use a towel with some texture on it (some have these waffle kind of patterns), for the step where the bread goes to the fridge overnight, you will create a nice texture on the bread, visible after it is baked :
- flour and softly "massage" your dough to spread the thin layer of flour evenly
- using a sharp razor blade draw the desired patterns. Experiment with deeper or more superficial cuts!
These are all IG accounts I find incredibly inspiring, especially for pattern inspiration and passionate sourdough journeys :
Keeping your starter healthy
After you've fed and used your starter, put it back in the fridge - always with a lid allowing air to move in and out.
Make sure your starter is fed at least ± 1x a week : if you don't want to bake as much, throw some of your starter away to the compost pile (or gift it to someone!), feed it normally, and put it directly back in the fridge. Don't let it go hungry, or it will die.
I clean my starter pot every 2-4 feedings.
I have a pack of flour that I use exclusively to feed my starter. So far I've always made sure it contained rye, as I think it is higher in gluten and gets starters happy. So my bread is usually pretty white, but with a touch of plainer flour from the starter. I try to always use the same flour to feed my starter, as I've noticed it being very perturbed and rising less for awhile when changing the flour for its feeding.
Dutch oven :
Also if you're considering buying one - though the cast iron ones have nice rustic looks, I really enjoy having the possibility to observe my loaf baking through the glass :)
Other identical proportions for smaller or bigger breads :
For a small bread you can use :
Recipe in short :
1) mix water & flour, cover & let rest 30min
2) add salt & starter, mix (stretch & fold), cover, let rest 30min
3) 4x stretch-and-folds with 30min rest in between
4) leave dough to rest for 3-11h at room temp.
5) shape on floured surface, cover with towel & let rest 30min
6) final shaping + put in bowl with floured towel for a night in the freezer
7) preheat oven to 250°C (with dutch oven in). Put dough on oven paper, score, put in dutch oven with lid on for 20min. Lower temp. to 225°C for 10 more minutes. Final bake out of the dutch oven for a few last minutes.
If you have questions, or experiences/discoveries/tricks you'd like to share, please do here below! I'd absolutely love to hear them, and they may become useful to other people struggling/wondering about these things too :)
ohh and I'd absolutely love to see pictures if you get to make a loaf! You're very welcome to share them via IG or FB <3