JP's SOURDOUGH YO
While there are way more advanced bakers who you could learn from, (shout out to Emilie Raffa, whose book I devour like bread) with way more instructions and details then I could ever list here, I’ve had some requests. So here you have my super simple version.
You may notice a theme: “simple” for sourdough is maybe not so simple until you’ve done it a few times and gotten used to the cadence of sourdoughing.Yep, I just made it a verb. Come sourdough with me!
Good quality flour. I use and recommend Bob’s Red Mill. Any unbleached organic flour will do.
You will need All-Purpose Flour and Bread Flour (Bob’s is called “Artisan Bread Flour” - just to make us feel extra fancy and artisanal I suppose.)
Good quality water. I use filtered water.
Good quality salt. I use La Baleine fine-grain sea salt.
Noticing the good quality theme? If you want good quality sourdough, use good quality ingredients. And lots of love :) ...
A good quality starter is essential for an epic loaf of sourdough. If you are on island, swing by and grab some of mine. If you have another friend with a starter, know that everyone loves to share their starter. Seriously. Ask around. With that said, if you have to make your own starter I’m just going to refer you to the World Wide Web or Emilie’s book “Artisan Sourdough Made Simple” (p. 16-23).
Here’s something else I want to say about starters...I know they are intimidating because people think you have to feed them every day and they can go really wild and get messy all over your countertop and create havoc in the kitchen. They don’t have to be that dramatic. I feed my starter once a week and leave it in the fridge the rest of the time. Super simple. When I travel, I leave it in the fridge and revive it when I get home. (I’ve left it for up to 6 weeks she comes right back with a little love!) So don’t stress. You got this. I will describe my process on waking her up weekly below!
Okay, so you have your ingredients.
ADDITIONAL ITEMS NEEDED
Any bowl will do.
OVEN SAFE POT
I use and recommend using a (5qt) Dutch oven. You can get around the Dutch oven if you don’t have one and don’t want one - and I’ll describe how later. However, if you are willing to invest in a Dutch oven, I think you (and your bread-grubbing friends) will be glad you did.
Makes the baking process easier.
To weigh your ingredients.
OTHER STUFF YOU CAN GET BUT DON'T REALLY NEED:
DANISH DOUGH WHISK
Probably the least useful item I bought for bread making, yet I use it every time and appreciate it when I do. You could also use a fork and / or your hands for the part I when use the whisk.
Sometimes I use it. Sometimes I don’t. It’s most helpful for cleaning up my mess after getting flour everywhere.
BREAD PROOFING BAKING BASKET WITH LINER (Also called brotforms and bannetons)
This is the basket you proof your bread in. You can also use any bowl in your house with a floured tea towel to stop the loaf from getting stuck.
This is to score the bread. You can easily use a knife or razor blade.
You’re ready to begin!
For the purpose of this tutorial, let’s say you’re baking bread for SUNDAY. (I like to bake on the weekend. Usually to take sailing. If you bake bread, you are welcome on the boat anytime! :)
- Take your starter out of the fridge.
- Pour out:
- Half (so that you have about 50g in your glass)
- Add in:
- 50g all-purpose flour
- 50g water (I like to add a squirt of ION to my starter. If you know, you know. If you don’t know, don’t worry about it.)
- 50g all-purpose flour
- Leave Starter out on the counter.
Check on your starter. When you took it out of the fridge it was probably pretty “dormant.” Now it should have risen and be bubbly and ready to party.
- In mixing bowl, add:
- 50g bubbly active starter
- 350g warm water
- 500g bread flour
- 10g fine sea salt
- Combine with danish whisk or fork. Fully incorporate all ingredients. You’re welcome to use your hands if you wish but the dough will be pretty soggy at this point.
- Cover bowl. Set it aside for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Replenish your starter with 50g flour + 50g water. Stick it back in the fridge.
- After your dough has rested, use your hands to work it into a fairly smooth ball. Do this by grabbing the dough from underneath the edges and pulling it back onto itself in the middle, pushing your fingers down in the middle. Do this until you feel the dough start to tighten. One you have your ball, cover up the dough and let it rest overnight. This is called the “bulk rise.” Go to bed and dream sweet sourdough dreams.
Let that dough rest for 8-12 hours. It’s ready when it looks kinda fluffy and has doubled in size. Now it’s time to shape your dough!
- Clean your countertop well. Once it is dry, sprinkle a space with all-purpose flour.
- Coax the dough onto your floured work surface. Do like you did last night. Pull from under the corners and push back to the center, folding the dough over itself until you’ve come full circle and it is shaped into a round. Again, you will feel it tighten up a bit when it’s ready.
Flip the dough over and let it rest while you get the other bits ready (8-10 minutes). The flip can be a little clumsy with just your hands. This is one of the times you will use your bench scraper if you have one; it makes the flip a little easier. Otherwise, just do your best and know that your bread is happy to be held and handled and fumbled and flipped.
- Now get our your bread proofing basket and the liner and cover it with all-purpose flour. You can also use the basket without the liner if you want the lines of the basket on your bread. Use A LOT of flour if you’re not using the liner. If you didn’t get the bread proofing basket, you can use any 8-inchish round bowl and line it with a tea towel and sprinkle plenty of flour in it. (The more flour, the less your dough will stick.)
- Now grab some more flour for your hands and pull the dough in a circular motion and tighten up its shape. Use your bench scraper (if you have it) or just your hands (covered in flour) to transfer the dough into the bowl / proofing basket.
- Cover the bowl and let it rest. This is its second rise! You want the dough to get puffy and rise slightly, but not double this time. I usually let it rise for about half an hour then put it in the fridge.
When I put the dough in the fridge, I put my Dutch oven in the oven and preheat to 450*.
If you did not get a Dutch oven, you should use another oven safe pot. You do not need to put that in the oven just yet - but you do want to put in a baking dish with water in it. The reason why you use the Dutch oven at all is to trap moisture. You can create that same idea by letting a dish with water steam the oven.
Once the oven is preheated, take the dough out of the fridge. Place parchment paper over your bowl it and flip it over so your dough is centered on your parchment paper.
*You want your parchment paper big enough that you can grab the corners out of a hot Dutch oven, but not so big that those corners will stick out into the oven and get scorched and break off when you go to pull them up.
Score the bread! This is where you will use your bread lame or any sharp knife or a razor blade. You can be as creative as you want to be with the score. A simple x will do or you can get wild and make a beautiful mandala. Simple typically translates better as the bread has a mind of its own once it bakes!
- Take the Dutch oven out and take the lid off. (You might see steam - this is good. :) Pull up the corners of your parchment paper to place your dough in the Dutch oven. Put the lid back on and put that baby in the oven!
- Bake for 20 minutes on the center rack with the lid.
- Remove the lid. 30 more minutes!
- Take out the Dutch oven and remove the dough. Put your loaf back in and finish her off for 5-10 minutes, baking directly on the rack to crisp the crust.
- Transfer to wire rack to cool for an hour.