How to make your first Sourdough Loaf






Sourdough bread recipe
(Adapted from Tartine book)
Makes 2 large loaves (Can half recipe too, works well)

  • 200g ready starter
  • 750g room temp water
  • 900g bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 100g wheat flour (if don’t have use bread or all-purpose flour)
  • 20g kosher salt
*you can use more whole wheat if you like. Switch it in for the regular flour. You loaf will rise faster but may be more dense. I would only do 60:40 white to wheat to keep a good texture.

Testing your starter: 

If you're asking, what is starter? Go to my first post to get started: 
"What the heck is this starter that everyone talks about? | Sourdough Cheat Sheet"

First test that your starter is ready. In a small cup of room temperature water water, put a spoonful of starter in. If it floats- it’s ready. If it sinks it’s either overripe (sour smell) or not active enough. If you think it has a little time to rise, wait 1-2 hours and see if it rises anymore. Then, test again to see if it’s ready. If it’s overripe, discard half and feed it again. 

Mixing:

Once your starter is ready, in a large bowl, pour in 700g of the water (set aside the 50g). Then mix in 200g of your starter. Pour in 900g bread or all-purpose flour and 100g whole wheat flour. Mix by hand well. It will be a very sticky, shaggy dough. That’s okay. Once it’s all mixed in well cover loosely with a towel. Let sit for 45 min. (This period allows the flour to moisten well and give yeasts a head start before salt is added)

Salt:

After 45 minutes add 20g salt and 50g more water. Use your hands to squeeze dough. Break up salt till it dissolves in dough. You’ll notice the dough is a little softer. This is fun but takes a bit of squishing. Then, cover it with a towel and let rest 45 minutes. 

Turning dough:

For the next 3-4 hours, you need to turn the dough in the container, every 30-45 minutes. If you can, make the temperature in your kitchen a nice 75-80 F (23-26 C) for the quickest rise. Keep your dough away from drafts because it will get colder. If its colder in your environment it may take a couple more hours to rise.  

"Turning" means dig deep into the bowl, grab the dough and bring it up and over itself. You’re stretching the dough to develop the gluten and make the bread have more structure. Pulling is the key. Any way you can do it. 

How do you know when it's risen enough?

By the end of the third hour, it should feel aerated and softer. It should release from the sides of the bowl easily and not stick to your hands anymore. It should have increased 20 to 30 percent in volume. There will be more air bubbles on the sides of the container. These are all signs that your dough is ready to be shaped into loaves. If you don't see these signs after 3-4 hours, extend the time another 1-2 hours and check again. 

Shaping:

After dough has been turned and is now risen a lot, it’s time to shape it. Pour it out on to a work surface. Divide dough into two. Try to form it into 2 balls/pancakes by stretching and pulling the dough. Then, cover with a towel and wait 30 minutes. Do this part without flour. 

Now, using as little flour as you can, shape into two loaves. Use the friction on the board to help you get a taut form. Push the dough with the side heel of the hand, then in a circular motion, pull the dough towards you, forming it into a round shape. Don't overwork it or you will take out all the air. It's better to shape it once or twice to form and that's it. If it's not perfect, let it go. Try to improve your technique on the next loaf, rather than fidget with it too much.

Once you form it into a tight ball-like loaf, now, carefully and quickly- its a gentle dough, flip over and place each one in a floured basket or bowl with floured towel. The seam side should be on the top. Cover well with towel on top.


Final Rise: 

Now, you have to let it sit a bit, but you leave it on its own. You have 2 options. Either let it rest in the basket for 3 hours at  75-80 F (23-26 C) to rise. Then, bake.
OR
Put it in the fridge for 8-12 hours, or overnight (my preference). This is the safest bet that your bread will be risen for sure. Bake it the next day. 

Bake:

Preheat oven and cast iron with lid to 525 F (273 C) for a good 20 minutes or so. Then, turn out dough into cast iron- straight from the fridge. (Click here to see the cast iron I use) Score with sharp knife quickly and carefully. Cut into it more than you think. Place the lid on and bake 15 minutes at 525 F. I use a small piece of parchment to prevent any bread from sticking and burning on the bottom.

After 15 minutes of baking, uncover lid and lower oven to 500 F (260 C). Bake for another 20-25 min. Lift bread with tongs and place a foil “snake” under bread to prevent bottom from burning. The bread is done when tapped on bottom and it sounds somewhat hollow. Let bread rest 1 hour or so on a rack before cutting. Listen to the song of bread, or crackling. You did it!








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See my "bread" highlights on my IG page to see pictures for each step:
@chefjoannas


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