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My First Attempt at Sourdough Bread

Eeek! I did it! This last weekend I received a text from my friend and neighbor asking if we wanted some Sourdough Starter. I didn’t hesitate saying YES! I love trying new kitchen things and if she had already babied the starter then I was already halfway there. She bought her dehydrated starter from Ballerina Farm, but you can also easily make your own. You WILL need a scale and non-metal bowl and utensils.

Once I had my starter I was shocked to realize I was going to be throwing a good amount out! (I have learned there are many ways to use this discard, but that’s for another day.) As soon as I got it, I used 30 grams starter (our of probably 300 grams), 125 grams warm water, and 140 grams unbleached, white flour to refeed it. It went on top of the fridge (warmer than the counter) overnight to get all bubbly.

Going into the bread baking I had no idea the process would take HOURS. I thought a rise or two, maybe. So many people make their own bread so it should be pretty straight forward. Uh, no. Make sure your calendar is clear for a good 6-7 hours and you’re hanging close to home. I started my loaf at 8am and it was going in the oven at about 2:45pm. I am super thankful a couple of us experimenting with our first starters were on my texting speed dial so I could receive encouragement and reassurance throughout the day.

Back to my process…I pulled recipes from a couple different places to compare and contrast (and to double check that it did indeed take as long as I read). I decided to follow Ballerina Farm’s:

225 grams starter (active and bubbly)…this left me with just enough to refeed as a new starter later
735 grams warm water
800 grams white bread flour (I didn’t have bread flour so I used all-purpose)
200 grams whole wheat flour
25 grams sea salt

First, on a basic kitchen scale, add your starter to a bowl. Then the water. Mix the starter and water with your hands until it’s “milky”. Then add your flour. This makes two hearty loaves so make sure you are using a BIG bowl. Then, remove the scale from under the bowl and mix the starter, water, and flour together. You’ll mix it with your hands for 2-3 minutes by picking it up and folding it over on itself. It will be very sticky.

Next, cover it with a dinner plate and let it rest for about 2 hours. After two hours we will add the salt. Wet your hands (to prevent dough from sticking) and begin to knead the salt into the dough. I also did a “stretch and fold” method, where I pulled the dough upward, shook it out a bit, and then folded it on itself. I did this for about 3 minutes. Yes, it’s still sticky.

The plate is going to go back on the bowl and rest another 2 hours. See? Told ya you need to be around for awhile!

After 2 hours I dumped my dough on the counter to be shaped. Your dough should look “strong” and you can pull it up into a sheet without it breaking. I lightly floured my surface and my hands and cut the dough into two. I stretched one piece at a time into a rectangle, then folded into into thirds (like you’d fold a business letter). Then, roll it up on the short edge like a fancy hotel towel.

Once it is a log you’ll shape it into a ball by tucking under the sides and turning. You want to build tension. Then, do your second one. These will sit on the counter (uncovered) for about 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, we’ll give them one more shape before they get their final rest in the fridge before baking. The dough may or may not be sticky. You can flour your surface again if the dough is sticking more to you than itself. To shape, pull into a rectangle, fold into a business letter, roll into a fancy hotel towel, and then build tension by tucking under the sides, turning as you go.

Now I don’t have a final proofing basket like a lot of website call for so I just used non-metal bowls and plastic wrap. If I keep up this habit then I’ll invest in more specific accessories. These loaves went into the fridge, covered for their final 2 hour rest. It was recommended to check on them after about an hour in case they were growing too fast. You don’t want overproofed bread.

At this point you can score your bread top with a razor. I tried using a paring knife but it wasn’t sharp enough to get that split. Now it’s finally time to bake! You will want to preheat a covered, parchment lined Dutch Oven at 450 degrees. This will give the bread a nice browning during baking.

Cover the dough with a lid and bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes.

And there you have it! Sourdough bread! Now if I was on Great British Bake-Off, Paul Hollywood would surely tell me this was underbaked. But we quite liked the texture! I hope this helps any sourdough newbie like me. I am excited to continue on this suburban homesteader journey.

The next task is to figure out what to name my starter – did you know there are families who have their starter for years and years?! I was considering “Puff Daddy” but am inclined to give the starter a female gender. Comment with your ideas!

Sourdough Bread

Prep Time 6 hrs
Cook Time 35 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 225 grams starter (active and bubbly)
  • 735 grams warm water
  • 1000 grams Bread Flour
  • 25 grams sea salt

Instructions
 

  • First, on a basic kitchen scale, add your starter to a bowl. Then the water. Mix the starter and water with your hands until it’s “milky”. Then add your flour. This makes two hearty loaves so make sure you are using a BIG bowl. Then, remove the scale from under the bowl and mix the starter, water, and flour together. You’ll mix it with your hands for 2-3 minutes by picking it up and folding it over on itself. It will be very sticky.
  • Next, cover it with a dinner plate and let it rest for about 2 hours. After two hours we will add the salt. Wet your hands (to prevent dough from sticking) and begin to knead the salt into the dough. I also did a “stretch and fold” method, where I pulled the dough upward, shook it out a bit, and then folded it on itself. I did this for about 3 minutes. Yes, it’s still sticky.
  • The plate is going to go back on the bowl and rest another 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours I dumped my dough on the counter to be shaped. Your dough should look “strong” and you can pull it up into a sheet without it breaking. I lightly floured my surface and my hands and cut the dough into two. I stretched one piece at a time into a rectangle, then folded into into thirds (like you’d fold a business letter). Then, roll it up on the short edge like a fancy hotel towel.
  • Once it is a log you’ll shape it into a ball by tucking under the sides and turning. You want to build tension. Then, do your second one. These will sit on the counter (uncovered) for about 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, we’ll give them one more shape before they get their final rest in the fridge before baking. The dough may or may not be sticky. You can flour your surface again if the dough is sticking more to you than itself. To shape, pull into a rectangle, fold into a business letter, roll into a fancy hotel towel, and then build tension by tucking under the sides, turning as you go.
  • Now I don’t have a final proofing basket like a lot of website call for so I just used non-metal bowls and plastic wrap. These loaves went into the fridge, covered for their final 2 hour rest. It was recommended to check on them after about an hour in case they were growing too fast. You don’t want overproofed bread.
  • At this point you can score your bread top with a razor.
  • Now it’s finally time to bake! You will want to preheat a covered, parchment lined Dutch Oven at 450 degrees. This will give the bread a nice browning during baking.
  • Cover the dough with a lid and bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Let the bread cool completely (at least 2 hours) to let your crumb set before slicing.

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