IngredientsSourdough bread is made with just 3 ingredients: flour, water, salt. You could consider the sourdough starter as a separate ingredient, but the starter itself consists of only flour and water.
Sourdough is a living food, and as with all lifeforms it behaves differently depending on environmental factors. Water content, humidity, temperature, time will all affect how sourdough behaves. Because of this variability, sourdough recipes are not set in stone. That said, below is the "recipe" I use.
Listed using baker's percentages
- Flour (100%)
- Water 80%
- Sourdough Starter 10-20%
- Salt 2%
My current experimentThe "Slow Lazy" sourdough bread baking method has turned out to be great. So below is what I did. If you want to try my previous recipe/method/schedule, check out the garlic butter bread page.
- Mix measured amount of starter into measured amount of water until starter is dissolved
- Combine flour and salt, whisk or stir until mostly even.
- Alternatively, put the salt aside until after the autolyse.
- According to this experiment by Foodgeek it doesn't make a difference when you add salt to the mix.
- Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until you have a shaggy mess of dough that is more or less even (ie - all the dry flour is mixed in).
- Cover and rest at room temp to autolyse for about 6-8 hours.
- Optionally stretch & fold once or twice during the autolyse.
Stretch & fold
- Stretch & fold the dough in order not to break the gluten sturcture.
- Foodgeek has a comparison of methods, and Bake With Jack has a different method.
- Wet your hands to prevent dough from sticking to your hands.
- Cover and rest the dough for 15-30 min at "room temperature" (use a shorter rest time if your "room" is warm, longer if it's cold).
- Repeat the Stretch & fold cycles 2-3 times.
- Fold in any inclusions you want during the last stretch & fold.
- Take a piece of the dough and place it into a small container so the bulk rise is easier to measure.
- Put the remaining dough into a bulking container, or just cover your mixing bowl with a non-porous cover.
- Rest until the dough rises 25-50% (ie becomes 125-150% of its original size).
- Reassimilate the smaller piece of dough into the main bulk of the dough, and continue to the next step.
- There are two styles I have seen for shaping your dough.
- The wet method: spray your counter with a light mist of water, and wet your hands.
- The dry method: lightly dust your counter with flour, and keep your hands dry.
- Carefully dump out the dough.
- If making more than one loaf, divide your dough as needed.
- Shape it
- Dust your banneton with rice flour, and transfer your shaped dough loaf into it, "top side" down.
- Rice flour contains no gluten so it serves as a non-stick barrier between the dough and your container.
- If you don't have a banneton, line a bowl with cloth. Knit cloth (like a piece of old T-shirt) tends to work better than a dish towel.
- Lightly cover the dough with a cloth (or the corners of the lining cloth).
- Place in refrigerator for 12-48 hours
- Longer fermentation time results in a more "sour" flavor, but over-fermenting could tire out the yeast too early which can result in poor oven rise.
(One hour before baking)
- Place a dutch oven inside your oven and preheat to 500F
- Heat the dutch oven for 45-60 min once your oven gets up to temperature
- Place your loaf on a piece of baking parchment paper (optional)
- Dust the top of the loaf with rice flour.
- Score the loaf in some way.
- Scoring the surface allows for a controlled rise.
- If you don't score your loaf the bread will "rise" through weak spots in the crust so you might end up with a weird explode-y looking result.
- Place your loaf in the dutch oven and cover.
- I prefer to use the dutch oven upside-down so that the loaf goes into the "top" part and gets covered with the "pot" part.
- I found that placing the loaf into the pot side resulted in a burned bottom due to more heat transfer from the more massive piece of cast iron.
- Lower the oven temp to 450F
- Bake for 20 minutes
20 min later (Browning the crust)
- Remove the dutch oven cover and continue baking uncovered for 20-30 min
If using a baking stone and pizza peel
- Preheat oven to 500F with stone in place
- Prepare the oven by generating steam
- Lightly dust your pizza peel (or some other platform to transfer the loaf into the oven) and place your loaf onto it.
- Score your loaf
- Place the loaf directly onto the baking stone
- Lower the oven temperature to 475F (or experiment with your oven). After 20 minutes of steamed baking, remove the steam generator (water pan, etc) from the oven.
- Lower the temperature to 450F bake for 20 more minutes in the dry oven.
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
Allow it to cool to room temp before cutting into it.