Bread has always intrigued me, yet, I never dedicated much time to developing the skills needed to be a good baker. This all ended when I retired. One of the first goals I set when I retired was to learn how to make a great loaf or sourdough bread.
I watched a few videos on sourdough bread baking and then I came across one with baker Sarah Owens. Sarah is articulate and soft-spoken. She has a way of describing the process of baking like no other, explaining some of the science, but not getting bogged down in unfamiliar terms and intangible principles. She is a pleasure to watch…I highly recommend looking her up and checking out her book on Sourdough Bread. My recipe is derived from her recipe and methods.
Bread making is not as time consuming as you may think, and if you have the right tools, everything comes together a little easier. There are a lot of steps, and bread making does require you to follow a pretty structured time table, but actual hands-on time is not all that demanding. In the old days I remember kneading bread dough for long periods, but with this technique you are simply stretching it to develop the gluten…much easier on your body.
Due to all of the steps involved in bread making and my desire to show you each step in detail, I will divide the sourdough bread video into 4 parts.
- Introduction – an overview of ingredients, tools and techniques.
- Part 1 – Leaven, making the dough and bulk fermentation.
- Part 2 – Shaping, proofing and baking the dough.
- Part 3 – Inclusions; taking the bread to the next level with added ingredients like olives, wild mushrooms, whole grains and cheese.
Some of the specialty equipment I use when baking bread:
Danish Dough Whisk – 13-inch – Traditional Baking Tool for Bread, Batters, Pastry, Doughs, CakesBuy on Amazon
Breadtopia Sourdough Starter (Live), Non-GMO for homemade sourdough breadBuy on Amazon
3 Pack of Round Banneton Proofing Baskets – 8-inch – Artisan bread baking for professionals and home bakersBuy on Amazon
Oval Banneton – Bread Proofing Basket – 9-inch – Sourdough BrotformBuy on Amazon
Cambro – 2 quart Translucent Round RFS2PP190Buy on Amazon
Plastic Dough Scraper – 6-inch – white, Chef Craft ClassicBuy on Amazon
Metal 6-inch Bench Knife or Scraper, Heavy Duty, for Dough, PizzaBuy on Amazon
Elastic Food Storage Covers – Reusable Plastic Wrap Bowl Covers, 3 sizesBuy on Amazon
Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Pot & Lid, 4 quart, Coated Cookware, for Cooking & BakingBuy on Amazon
Cambro Lid – 2-quart – round plasticBuy on Amazon
Escali Precision Glass Surface Digital Kitchen Scale, 15lb capacityBuy on Amazon
Black Walnut Bread Lame, made in the USABuy on Amazon
Sourdough BreadCourse: BreadDifficulty: Medium
This recipe is derived from a recipe by Sarah Owens, I highly recommend her book on Sourdough Bread. When making bread it is best to use a digital kitchen scale to measure the ingredients for accuracy and ease. I will include a chart below for multiplying the recipe and a timetable that I follow when making this sourdough bread.
30 gm sourdough starter
75 gm water, 75-degrees F.
75 gm whole wheat flour
- Bread Dough
180 gm leaven (recipe above)
900 gm water, 75-degrees F.
930 gm bread flour
240 gm whole wheat flour
24 gm Kosher salt
- Make leaven by mixing the sourdough starter with the water. Add the flour and mix to combine. Rest at room temperature 8-12 hours, or overnight.
- Make dough when the leaven is ready. Place the leaven in a large bowl with the water and mix well with a Danish Dough Whisk. Add the bread flour and the whole wheat flour and mix until the dough is combined and all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Rest for 20 minutes.
- Add salt to the dough. Mix to combine. Divide the dough into 750-gm balls and place into three 2-quart cambro containers (or bowls) to rest, covered, for 30-45 minutes.
- This is the bulk fermentation stage, which will last 3 1/2-4 hours. Every 30-45 minutes open the containers, wet your hands and grab the edge of the dough. Stretch it up into the air and return the end to the center of the ball. Rotate the container and continue the stretch and fold 5-6 times around the ball.
- After the bulk fermentation stage is complete, place the dough balls on a lightly floured surface. This is the initial shaping stage. Grab the dough ball at twelve-o’clock and stretch it upwards, and fold it down to the center. Continue at six-o’clock, then three-o’clock and then nin-o’clock. Cup the ball with your hands and gently form the dough into a ball. Continue with the other balls and rest on the bench, seam side down, for 30 minutes.
- For the final shaping, turn the ball over so the seam is facing upwards. Grab the dough at twelve-o’clock and stretch it upwards. This time you are only folding it down about 2-inches. Continue this stretch and stitching down each side, grabbing the dough a little lower each time, stretching it, and folding it back onto itself. When you reach the bottom, grab the bottom and stretch it towards you. With tension, roll the dough forward, keeping a good amount of tension on the roll and tucking it in with your finger tips as you roll.
- Lightly dust the Bannetons with rice flour, and coat the top (non-seam side) with a light coating of the rice flour. Place seam-side up in the bannetons, top with a small piece of cotton towel and cover with an elastic food storage cover. Place the covered bannetons in the refrigerator to slowly proof for 8-24 hours.
- Pull the bread from the refrigerator and uncover. Invert each loaf onto a square of parchment paper. Brush off excess flour if any large accumulations are present and cut decorative reliefs in the dough with a bread lame. Place 3 enameled cast-iron dutch ovens on the center rack of your oven with the lids, and preheat the oven to 480-degrees F.
- Once the loaves have been out of the refrigerator for 1-hour, they can go into the heated dutch ovens, lowering them with the parchment paper and covering them with the lids. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the lids from the bread, close the door and reduce the heat to 465-degrees F. and continue to bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the dutch ovens from the oven and place on the stovetop. Gently grab two opposite corners of the parchment paper and lift the loaves from the dutch ovens. Place each loaf on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Sourdough Bread Chart - Multiplying, Method and Timing
Below is a chart that I developed for multiplying the sourdough bread recipe. It also contains an abbreviated description of the method steps and a time table which I follow when I make bread. I have given two options for the time table, an AM column and a PM column. With the AM column, you make the leaven the night before (7pm) and the dough in the morning. With the PM column, you make the leaven in the morning (5 minutes) and the dough in the afternoon.