If you enjoy baking bread than you will definitely enjoy Sourdough Bread baking. First of all, it requires no kneading at all. And if you follow all the steps, you will find it easy. It does need time and it is this long time that helps to strengthen the gluten, making the texture of the sourdough bread so much better. And healtier!
What is Sourdough Bread
Sourdough Bread is a slow fermented, good for your gut, healthy alternative to conventional bread. It doesn’t require any commercial yeast. And while it needs a little bit of planning in advance, it requires no kneading or a stand mixer to prepare the dough. All you need is some time in hand to prepare the starter and follow the simple tecniques I explained below to prepare the dough.
Sourdough Bread doesn’t call for store bought yeast!
First thing first, you need sourdough starter, a simple mix of flour and water that gets fermented naturally and in about 9 days you will have your homemade sourdough starter.
Sourdough Bread needs matured starter and it needs planning and time
Keep in mind that sourdough starter needs planning in advance, especially for us homebakers who would normally store our matured starter in the refrigerator.
We have to bring the starter out of hibernation to room temperature, then we need to either prepare Levain or feed the master starter to get matured starter after 8 to 12 hrs that we will use in the dough.
Read this recipe for the detailed post on How to Make Sourdough Starter. I even gave an infographic that you can download.
Things you need to make Sourdough Bread:
Typically all you need is flour, water, a mixing bowl, and a baking caserole to make Sourdough Bread. But we beginers need to measure every thing properly. And tool like bench scapper comes extreamly handy when dealing with sticky dough.
- Matured starter ( I have explained below the ratio I use to make Levain)
- Flour ( I used all purpose flour and wheat flour for the dough. And little rice flour to just on the benton baking basket and on the dough before baking )
- Filtered warm water
- Mixing bowl
- Another bowl to let the dough rest overnight. Or Banneton Basket
- Bench scrapper (This is a must to make sourdough bread, at least for beginners like me. Makes easy to handle the sticky dough)
- Measuring scale ( you can use measuring cups too)
- Sharp knife to score the dough before baking
Easy Sourdough Bread : QUICK STEPS with TIME SCHEDULE
Here I have just given a brief with the timeline I follow when baking my sourdough bread. I have expalined details below. And do watch the video to understand the steps better.
Prepare the base dough for the Sourdough Bread
- Prepare the Lavein or matured starter [ I do this step previous day so the Lavein is ready next day morning]
- [ 9:30 Am] Mix flour and water to prepare autolyse. Let it rest for 2 hrs
- [ 11:30 Am] Using the pinching method mix the Lavein to the autolyse. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
- [ 11:45 Am]Sprinkle salt and incorporate it using pinching method. Then using slap and fold method for 2 minutes, strengthen the dough. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
Bulk Fermentation with stretch and fold in between
- [ 12:15 Pm] First stretch and fold. Let it rest for 15 minutes.
- [ 12:30 Pm] Second stretch and fold and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- [ 12:45 Pm] Third stretch and fold and rest for 15 minutes.
- [ 1:00 Pm] You should see lots of airpockers forming. Do the fourth stretch and fold. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
- [ 1:30 Pm] Fifth stretch and fold and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- [ 2:00 Pm] Sixth stretch and fold and leave it for bulk fermention. Let if rest for 2 to 3 hrs or until it doubles. You should see lots of big airpockets on top.
- [ 4:30 Pm] Sprinkle little flour on the tabletop and preshape the dough. let it rest uncovered for 30 minutes.
Preshaping and Final Shaping of the Sourdough Bread
[5:00 Pm] Then flip and final shape the dough. Place it in a bowl layered with a cloth or use a bread banneton basket. Cover and leave it in the refrigeator for overnight cold fermentaion. I leave it for 15 hours.
[ Next day 8:00 Am] Preheat the oven along with the dutch caserole inside the oven to 500 F
Take the bread out of the fridge once the oven is preheated. Score the bread, and place it on the hot casserole. Cover the casserole and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the cover, reduce the temperature to 475 F and continue baking for 20 minutes.
Let the bread cool down completely, give it a minimum of 5 hrs, before you slice the bread.
DETAILS OF THE STEPS
(Watch the video at the end of the post to understand the steps better):
What is Matured Sarter?
When your starter is ready for it’s next feed, it is at it’s matured stage and that’s when it’s called matured starter.
You can either feed your master starter the night before and use little bit amount of that the next day to prepare the dough. Or you could prepare a levain and use that to prepare the dough
What is Levain ?
Most people prefer prepare Levain and use that in their sourdough starter. Levain is just another term for sourdough matured starter, which is prepared by using a tiny portion from the master starter mixed with flour and water. It is then left aside for 8 hrs to ferment.
Depending on how cold the weather is, the levain may not ferment enough in 8 hrs, in that case you can feed it a couple more times before you start preparing the dough.
RATIO for Levain I use is 1:2:2
I use 25 g of my master starter with 50 g flour with 50 g of filtered water. I give it a mix so there is no dry crumbs, and then I pour it in a glass jar, cover it with a plate on top and leave for couple hours inside the oven (switched off) light turned on.
Once the activation starts in couple hours and I start seeing the bubbles, I switch the light off and leave it there the whole night.
Preparing the Autolyse
I use 350 g all purpose flour and 90 g wheat flour mixed with 310 g luke warm water. Do not knead, just mix everything and make sure there are no dry bits. Cover and leave it aside for 2 hours.
In this 2 hours, the texture of the shaggy dough will alrealy develop some amount of gluten.
Mixing the Levain to Autolyse
To the bowl, add 90 g of your levain, wet your hand and spread the levain on top. Then fold the dough on all edges and mix the levain to the dough duing the pinching method to incorporate it everywhere. It wi be sticky at this point.
Leave aside covered for 15 minutes.
Adding salt and using SLAP AND FOLD technique
Sprinkle salt on the dough, wet your hand and once again mix it using the pinching method.
At this stage we have to work with the dough to strengthen it a little. As a beginner I found slap and fold techniue easy and doable.
Wet your hand and wet the counter or table top a little then take the shaggy dough to the counter. Lift the dough and slap it on the table and then fold the side of the dough that you are holding, Pick the dough once again at 90 degree angle, slap once again and fold immediately. (watch the video to understand this step). Continue this step for 2 minutes and you will realize that dough will turns soft and fluffier and not that sticky any longer.
Leave the dough in the bowl, covered for 30 minutes.
6 rounds of Stretch and Fold followed by 2 to 3 hrs of bulk fermention
The stretch and fold technique is a great way to develop gluten and create opne crumbs. Not only for sourdough bread, I follow this technique with most of my yeast bread too.
Wet your hands, gather a portion of the dough and stretch the dough upward, then fold it on the other side. Now rotate the bowl 180 degree, stretch and fold the same way. (Keep in mind that the dough will still not be very stretchy at this point, it will get better after 3rd stretch and fold). Next, rotate the bowl 90 degree and follow the same stretch and fold. Finally rotate to 180 for the last stretch and fold of the dough.
Complete the stretch and fold method by grabbing the entire dough by bot hand, light it towards yourself, then fold on both the sides to form a smooth round top.
FOLLOW THIS STRETCH AND FOLD 6 TIMES (First 4 at a gap of 15 minutes and the remaining at 30 minutes gap)
BULK FERMENTION : After the 6th stretch and fold, cover and leave the dough to rise for 2 to 3 hrs. You should see lots of air pockets and it would wobble when you shake the bow gently.
KEEP IN MIND — Bulk fermentation can take more or less time. You have to feel the dough to understand better. If the gluten has developed and its risen well, then you are good to preshape it.
Letting it over ferment will bread down the texture and the dough will turn into a shaggy sticky mess once again.
Preshaping the dough
This step could be little tough for absolute beginners. I now enjoy this stage the most of transforming the fermented dough into a beautiful flufy round ball.
Flour your work surface, it could be your clean table or kicthen island. Dust some flour on the dough. Gently release the edges of the dough and carefully drop the dough to the floured surface.
Add some flour on the edges of the dough and using a bench scrapper, quickly but gently, repeatly pull the dough towards yourself and shape the dough into a round ball. This step will sound very complicated but when you see the video, you will realize it’s very easy.
The dough will feel fluffy and soft and beautifully round.
Leave it aside for 30 minutes.
Final shaping of the dough
Before final sharing, prepare your benton baking basket by dusting rice flour
Dust little flour on the resting dough ball and using your bench scapper, flip the dough.
Gently pull the sides of the dough to make it a rough rantangle.
Pull the top side of the ractangle and fold it half way through. Press the edges gently. Then pull the bottom side of the rectangle and fold over to cover the first fold. Now gently lift the side using a bench scrapper if needed, and roll till the end.
Since I am baking sourdough boule (which is the term used for round sourdough breads) I use the bench scapper and pull the dough towarnds me in repeated motion to get the final round shape.
Cold rise sourdough bread
Cold rising the dough will allow the gluten to develop slowly giving a much better texture to the bread. The dough to rise and become more airy.
You can cold rise the dough either in a banneton basket or in any mixing bowl layered with a clean cloth. Start the dusting rice flour on the bowl or linen, depending on what you are using. Then lift the shaped dough and flip it upside down on the prepared basket/bowl.
Cover the bowl with a cloth and place it inside a dry and clean grocery bag or seal tight the bag.
Place the bag in the refrigerator for 15 hours.
Baking the Sourdough Bread
Place a caserole with the lid in the oven and preheat the oven to 500.
Once it’s preheated, take out the bread from the refrigerator and remove the covered linen. The bread should have risen by now.
Dust little rice flour on the dough and flip the dough in one quick movemnt to a parchment paper.
It is very important to score the bread so the gas can release as it bakes creating a beautiful crust on top. While scoring, use a sharp knife and scro deep.
Place the parchment paper on the preheated caserole dish and cover it. Bake at 500 F for 30 minutes.
Then remove the cover and bake for 20 more minutes at 475 F
Letting the bread cool completely before you slice!
While this is true to all kind of bread but with sourdough I cannot stress this point enough. Let the bread cool down completely. Give atleast 5 hours. If you slice while it’s hot, the texture of the bread will turn gummy instead of being light with beautiful crumbs.
At the first glance the steps might sounds like a lot of work but once you get the hang of the process, it is all about just following it one after the other. Sourdough bread is a healthy bread and the texture is until the bread you bake using commercial yeast.
My first few breads weren’t great but with practice I got better. I bake atleast once a week and now handling sticky dough doesn’t give me stress. On the contrary, I find all these stretch and fold, and shaping the dough extreamly therapeutic. It’s amazing to see how a shaggy messy dough turns so airy and beautifully fluffy with just few tricks.
- 350 g all purpose flour
- 90 g wheat flour
- 315 g warm water plus more to wet your hand as you work with the odugh
- 90 g ripe/ matured starter
- 9 g salt
- rice flour to dust on the dough for finak shaping
- In a big mixing bowl add the water and flour. Using your hand mix it all toegther. No need to knead, just bring it together so there are no dry flour bits.
- Cover and let it rest for 2 hours
- Add the ripe starter to the dough, wet your hand and mix the starter to the dough. This step needs to be done quickly. Use your fingers and thumb to pinch the dough. Cover and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle the salt and once again using your wet hand incorpotrate the salt in the dough.
- Wet your counter or table by rubbing little water and take the odugh out. We will do the slap and fold technique to strengthen the dough. Just grab the odugh with your hand and slap it on the table and then fold it over. Grab the dough at 90 degree and repreat. Continue slapping and folding the dough for 2 minutes. (watch the video to understand it better)
- Put the dough back in the bowl and cover it. Let it rest for 30 minutes.
- We will not do 6 rounds of stretch and fold technique. First four rounds at a gap of 15 minutes and then rest two at a gap of 30 minutes.
- For stretch and fold, Wet your hands, gather a portion of the dough and stretch the dough upward, then fold it on the other side. Now rotate the bowl 180 degree, stretch and fold the same way. (Keep in mind that the dough will still not be very stretchy at this point, it will get better after 3rd stretch and fold). Next, rotate the bowl 90 degree and follow the same stretch and fold. Finally rotate to 180 for the last stretch and fold of the dough. Complete the stretch and fold method by grabbing the entire dough by bot hand, light it towards yourself, then fold on both the sides to form a smooth round top.
- Once you are done with 6 rounds of stretch and fold, cover and let it bulk ferment for 2 to 3 hours. Depending on the temperture inside your house, it might ferment sooner or might need more time. You should see air pockets and the dough should have risen almost double in size.
- Nextstep is to prepshape the bread. So dust little flour on the board and carefully take the dough out of the bowl to the dusted area. Don't deflate the dough in the process so be gently.
- Dust bit more flour on the dough, especially on the edges and then using a bench scrapper, pull the dough towrds you in a circular motion. Repeat the process a few times to preshape the dough into a circular fluffy ball. (watch the video)
- Leave the preshaped dough uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Dust little flour on the dough and flip it in one quick motion. Stretch the sides carefully to form a rough rentagular shape.
- Fold the oppdsite edges one of top of another. Then lift from the side and roll it like you roll a blanket.
- Once again sprinkle little flour and using a bench scraper, shape it into a circular dough.
- Dust flour in your banneton basket or a bowl layered with cloth. Then flip the shaped dough and place it on the basket or bowl.
- Cover with a linnen and place in a grocery bag. Seal a bag with a clip and place the bag in the refrigerator for 15 hours.
- After 15 hours, place the caserole that you will be using to bake the bread in the oven along with the lid. Preheat the oven to 500F. The bread is baked covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for 20 minutes. If you want to bake the bread in pizza stone of cookie sheet, that is fine too, but need something to cover the bread.
- Once the oven is preheated, take out the bread fom the refrigerator. Dust little rice flour on the dough and quickly turn it on a parchment paper. Score the bread using a sharp knife.
- Carefully place the bread with the parchement in the preheated casserole. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
- Then reduce the heat to 475 and bake for 20 minutes.
- Once done, let the bread cook down completely. I give to 5 to 6 hrs before I slice the bread.