Is there anything better than fresh bread? I was honestly never a big bread person (because I was always scared of carbs and thought I was gluten intolerant, but turns out I’m not thankfully!), but turns out that now I am! I absolutely love a fresh slice of bread and butter or a piece of toast loaded with all the goods. There’s just nothing quite like it, in my opinion!
I’m going to start this post by saying that I am NOT a bread expert. I’ve made about 6-7 boules of this sourdough so far. I just followed everything my friend taught me that was information passed down from her friend’s family! She’s also the one who gifted me some of her sourdough starter, which was a huge blessing! You can certainly make your own, but that I have not done. This is the area that I have no expertise about but there are plenty of recipes and tips online or you can even buy a starter online now! Here are a couple recipes for starters online that I think would be great and have great reviews!
Another thing I’ve learned since starting to make bread is that everyone is so opinionated about how they make theirs! I’ve realized that all recipes can be different, and plenty of them work great. Do what you find works for you and go from there! So far, this is the only recipe I’ve tried. It’s worked beautifully every single time, tastes delicious, and I’m super happy with it. So I’m sticking to my system until I feel prepared to move on and get more creative!
Here’s a photo of my starter! I keep it in a mason jar and all a sourdough starter is is just flour and water. That part blows my mind, but you don’t use yeast in sourdough bread, instead you use a starter for the rise. I either store it in the fridge and feed it (with flour and water, more on this later) about once a week or on the morning before I’m going to prep it. Or I’ll store it at room temperature and feed it daily if I’m going to be making bread pretty often!
So once you have the starter, making the actual bread is pretty simple! Below is everything that goes into this recipe:
Pictured: bread flour (I’d prefer organic but didn’t have it this time), olive oil, water, sourdough starter, sea salt
And then here are the tools you’ll need as well below:
Pictured: a food scale (so much easier and less messy than measuring cups), a glass bowl, and a wooden spoon. It’s important to use a wooden spoon when mixing the dough because the metal can react with the yeast and affect the bread apparently!
Step 1: Once you have all your ingredients and materials needed you can get started! I start by turning my food scale to grams and zero it out once I put the bowl on so it shows 0g.
Step 2: Add in 25g of olive oil. You can probably use another oil, but I haven’t tried it out personally. I love also love the flavor that olive oil adds.
Step 3: Make sure to zero out the food scale again so it shows 0g. Then, add in 15g of sea salt. The original recipe calls for 10g of sea salt. I’ve personally found I like the taste better when it’s closer to 15-18g of sea salt. I think it brings out the flavor so much more!
Step 4: Zero out your food scale. Add in 150g of your sourdough starter. You can see that it’s a thick consistency. Sometimes it seems thinner and sometimes thicker, but I haven’t seen much of a difference in the actual bread. Turns out great every time!
Step 5: Zero out your food scale. Add in 250g of water. I’ve used room temperature and slightly colder and haven’t seen much of a difference. I feel like room temperature is probably the most ideal.
Step 6: Mix together all the ingredients in the bowl with a wooden spoon. You just want it to get a little incorporated, because it won’t fully incorporate! (Don’t pay attention to the 89g on the food scale, it was just because I was pressing down with the spoon).
Step 7: Zero out your food scale. Add in 500g of flour. I’ve used both organic all-purpose and bread flour. I do think the bread flour gives a denser, chewier texture which I really like. I prefer the bread flour, but both are seriously delicious. I want to try whole wheat next to see how it goes!
Step 8: Mix everything together again with a wooden spoon until everything is pretty incorporated like you see below. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Step 9: After 30 minutes, uncover and form the dough into a ball. There’s no need to knead the bread (you’ll do that later), you just need to get it into a ball form. Then, I cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel. The recipe says to let it rise for 4-24 hours. I prefer to let it rise on the longer side so I typically do about 20-24 hours!
Step 10: Once the bread is done rising, clean a space on your counter and sprinkle down some flour. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Take dough out and knead it on the counter 15 times. Place it in a dutch oven with flour sprinkled on the bottom.
Step 11: Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Once the time is over, slash a line in the top with a sharp knife. It doesn’t have to be very deep. Then, turn the oven to 400 degrees and bake in the oven (with the top on the dutch oven) for 40 minutes.
Step 12: After 40 minutes, remove the lid from the dutch oven and let the bread cook for another 10-15 minutes until the internal temperature is about 200F. I use a food thermometer which I highly suggest using so you can ensure the bread is done inside! Let cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing into the bread so it can set!
How to feed your starter:
All you need is a food scale, the jar with your starter, and a like-size jar that’s about the same weight in grams. Basically what I do is weigh my jar with starter in it and subtract it from the other jar. You only have to do this the first time, because then you’ll know how much the jar on the right weighs and you can subtract your amount from there.
In my case, I know that the jar on the right weighs about 400g (I just round it to 400 even though it says 401). Now that I know that, I usually like to get my starter jar to have 125g of starter in it. So when I weigh the jar with the starter, I discard starter until the weight is 525g. I do 525 because I’m subtracting 525g (jar with starter) from 400g (empty jar) to equal 125g of actual starter.
It doesn’t seem like very much left, but that’s all you need. Also, I know it seems like a waste to discard starter, but otherwise you’d have a lot of starter because it grows a lot. You can always share your starter with others or try some recipes online using the discard starter. If you want to make more than 1 loaf at a time you can leave more starter in there!
The only trick is to feed your starter equal amounts of flour and water as starter is in my jar. If I have 125g of starter in my jar, then to feed my starter I add in 125g of flour (bread flour or all purpose works) and 125g of water. It sounds complicated, but it’s super easy and you’ll get the hang of it. If you’d rather leave in 200g or 250g of starter to have more, then just feed your starter 250g of water and 250g of flour. I’ve just found 125g to be the perfect amount of starter for me to work with!
So feed your starter the proper amount of grams, stir it with a wooden spoon, and I like to leave it uncovered on the counter for about 2 hours before lightly closing the top. I don’t twist the cap on very tight.
If I’m going to make bread later that day, I’ll keep my starter out on the counter so it can grow. I typically feed my starter on the day ahead or the morning before I’m going to make my bread. The starter needs like 6-8 hours to grow. So basically, I’ll usually pull my starter out in the morning, feed it, and then let it sit at room temperature all day. Then, either mid-afternoon or around dinner time, I’ll go ahead and prep my dough. Go through the steps, cover overnight, and then bake in the morning! I love when the house smells like fresh bread first thing in the morning!
Okay, I think I covered everything!! At least as much as I know to do, so I hope this is helpful if you try it out! I promise once you make the bread 1 or 2 times, you’ll get the hang of it so quickly. It always seems overwhelming to start something new, but once you do you won’t turn back. Enjoy!!