My sourdough bread recipe !


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.



The start

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 !

Since then I also developed a huge love for working on more complex scoring patterns (the drawings on the loaves), and discovered an incredibly inspiring and talented community on Instagram ~ I will tag some of my favorite accounts further!
I've also experimented a little with the steps of the recipe and developed my own little routine. I don't need to think about any of the steps anymore, it's become part of my daily life and I absolutely love the entire process ! 

My sourdough bread recipe

Before we start : if you're not familiar with that kind of process yet, I know it will very likely feel overwhelming and seem very complicated.
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

The night before (right before going to bed), I take my starter out of the fridge and feed it : I weight it on the scale, and double its volume. For example, if it is 100gr, I will add 50gr flour, and 50gr water, making it 200gr in total.

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 : 

The next morning, I start the process once I've decided my starter has risen all it would rise : that may be when it has doubled (though mine doesn't get that enthusiast often ~ I'm still unsure of the reason why) or when I see it's just starting to go down again. 

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 :

Add the 8gr salt and the 80gr starter, and start mixing it by hand in a stretch and fold motion : you get your hand below the dough, stretch it and fold it above. You turn the bowl and repeat the movement about 10-12x, then cover the bowl and let it rest.
The starter won't feel completely integrated in the dough yet, but that's ok. 


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 :

When you uncover it at the end of the day, you will probably find it gassy, happily risen. Using a soft spatula, I get it all out of the bowl on a floured surface, and start doing the stretch and fold once more until I feel it has enough tension (maybe something like 10-12x).

I turn it upside down (all the folded bits facing down), and let it rest under a towel for 30min. 

Step 5 : 

Final step of the day : put a clean kitchen towel in a bowl and flour it generously (I've purchased a proofing basket after awhile, but a bowl with towel works just fine!)

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
Transfer your dough upside down to your bowl with the floured towel (so : even part facing down, folded bits facing up)

Cover it with a towel, and place in the fridge for the night.

Step 6 : 

The next morning, preheat your oven to ± 250°C, and put your dutch oven in it too so it gets all the heat it can.
(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). 

Et voilà!

Some more tips/infos

Scoring

You can start very simple with a deep line (in the center, or on a side), or two parallel lines, or 4 lines creating a rectangle. The bread will open where you cut. 

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 :

If you want to experiment with more complex patterns, I'd recommend you check out Bread journey's tutorial, that is how I started.

- 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 : 
- et_sourdough
- sourdough_enzo
- sourdoughgram
- sourdough_nouveau
- buttery_bites
- sabzi.shabzi
- caroloaves
- homebakerchronicles
- brooklynsourdough
breadjourney

Here are some of my babies, before and after baking, whose patterns were often veeeery much inspired by the accounts stated above :)

Keeping your starter healthy

Storing & feeding : 
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.

Flour : 
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 :

I have used different types of dutch ovens, some in cast iron, some in pyrex (glass). They all worked fine. The only thing you need to make sure is you have a lid : this will create damp while it bakes and help your loaf rise + create a nice crust. It really makes a big difference compared to baking your bread in an open pot. 
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 : 

I like to make 1 medium sized bread + 1 baguette in one go I do the entire process with 1 dough, and separate it at the final shaping when getting it out of the bowl on a floured surface. 
800gr flour
560gr water
130gr starter
12gr salt

For a small bread you can use : 

400gr flour
280gr water
65gr starter
6gr salt


Recipe in short : 

Ingredients : 
500gr flour
350gr water
80gr starter
8gr salt

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