Sourdough Bread - A Step-by-Step Guide

This has got to be one of my favorite past times.  There is something primal about kneading dough with your bare hands and then watching it develop into a beautiful loaf of bread that the whole family devours within a day! 


This recipe is truly a simple one with only three ingredients - the main thing you will need is bits of time throughout the day to complete each step (which only takes a few minutes each).  


Don't be too daunted by the length of the recipe.  I have just tried to explain the steps in detail to avoid any confusion throughout the process.  I too was nervous in my first few attempts at making sourdough, however after a few tries you get to know what to look for at each step.  Soon you'll be going through the motions without measurements and just using your intuition. 


Okay enough rambling - let's get to the recipe!


Sourdough Bread

Ever thought making sourdough bread is just for the experienced bakers and chefs? Well think again - check out this super easy method of making sourdough bread from just three simple ingredients. All you need is a bit of time up your sleeve!
Prep Time1 d
Cook Time50 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Bread, Easy, Sourdough
Servings: 1 Loaf
Calories: 289kcal
Cost: $

Equipment

  • Scales (preferably digital)
  • Measuring Cup
  • Large Mixing Bowl
  • Round cane banneton
  • Tea Towel
  • Baking Stone (or I use a non-stick tray)
  • Sharp Knife

Ingredients

  • 350 mls water spring or filtered for best results
  • 100 g sourdough starter
  • 500 g organic strong white flour extra for dusting tray/banneton
  • 1 tsp fine salt

Instructions

  • Early in the morning Feed the Starter. Ideally you do this first thing you get up as the preparation of the sourdough will need time throughout the day to do it's thing. To feed the starter combine 100g starter, 100g flour and 100g of water into a bowl by stirring vigorously. Once combined well leave in a warm place for 4 - 6 hours. 4 hours will generally suffice, however this is dependent on the temperature of the surrounding environment. HINT: If you are prepping your sourdough on a cold day - I leave my fed starter in the oven with the light on - but be sure to cover with a paper towel.
  • Check on your starter after 4 hours to see if it is active and ready for the next step. Key things to look for include bubbles throughout the mixture and it should have doubled in size. HINT: If you think it is ready but unsure, you can perform the float test. To do this grab a teaspoon and dollop some into a a cup of water. If it floats, it is ready. This isn't a hard and fast test - I have failed the test but still went ahead and produced some fantastic loaves of bread.
  • Once ready mix 100g of starter with 350mls of room temperature water.
  • Once mixed in together and formed a milky liquid combine 500g of flour and 1 tsp of salt. HINT: I like to use my hands for this part because it will help you develop a feel for the dough and give you a better judge of how it is developing along the process. It will be sticky to the touch and a bit ragged. Once combined cover your bowl with a tea towel and leave it on the kitchen table for 1 - 2 hours (depending on the weather). The warmer the less time it takes to do its thing.
  • Once rested, it is time to start folding. From the top of the mixing bowl, reach down the side and grab some dough and lift it up, stretch it and the bring it over the center of the bowl about two-thirds across. Rotate the bowl a bit and perform the same folding action for the next edge section of the bowl. Repeat this folding process until you have folded the complete circumference of the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl and leave on the kitchen bench for 30 - 50 minutes (again depending on the temperature).
  • You should complete this process 2 times more (for a total of 3 total folds). By the last fold the dough should feel less sticky and have an elastic feel (which is why I recommend using your hands when mixing and folding). Once you have completed your final fold leave the dough for 2 - 4 hours (depending on temperature) to ferment.
  • Check on your dough periodically and when it has doubled in size it is ready for shaping and it's final prove. Once doubled, scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl onto a well floured kitchen bench.
  • You are now going to repeat the folding process that you were performing previously, but this time it will be on the bench and you will do approximately 10 - 14 folds so the dough forms a tightly held dumpling shape. Pinch the creases together so that the outside of the dough is smooth. Once the tight dumpling shape is formed place the dough (smooth side down) into a well floured banneton, cover with a tea towel and place in the fridge to rest over night for it's final prove.
  • In the morning preheat your oven to 230 degrees centigrade (220 if fan forced) and let it completely heat up (important for a crusty outside of the sourdough).
  • With a well floured hand take the banneton out of the fridge and turn onto the baking stone/tray.
  • Using a sharp knife, slice the top of your loaf three times no more than 2 cm deep.
  • Place into the middle of the oven for 50 minutes.
  • Once baked, (if you can resist) leave the sourdough loaf to rest because if you cut into too soon the steam in the loaf can make the bread a bit chewy.
  • Enjoy your sourdough as you like!!

Notes

Rough Time Line for Sourdough Prepartion
  1. Feed Starter 8:00am
  2. Float Test 2:00pm
  3. Rest and Ferment Complete to perform Fold 1 3:00pm
  4. Fold 2 - 3:45pm
  5. Fold 3 - 4:30pm
  6. Rest Complete ready to be Shaped 7:00pm
  7. Place in Fridge overnight
  8. First thing in the morning Pre-heat oven and bake for 50 mins!
  9. Eat Sourdough!!!
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