Sourdough bread recipes are everywhere – multiple websites, bread-making books, volumes specifically on sourdough alone.
I’ve tried a few, found one I liked and adapted the procedure to my work schedule. Easy. We never lack for this bread now; we don’t have any other and we stopped buying grocery bread.
Here is the list of ingredients good for 4 loaves baked in 1-quart dutch ovens:
- 1050 g bread flour
- 540 g starter mix (preparation explained below)
- 700 g water
- 32 g salt dissolved in 88 g water
- 8-quart mixing bowl
- 4 proofing baskets (you can use stainless steel colanders in place of the wicker baskets or bannetons)
- 4 dishtowels
- 4 x 1-quart stainless steel dutch ovens with lids
For first-timers, I recommend reading Emma Christensen’s step-by-step highly detailed instructions/advice on this link.
If you don’t yet have a starter:
Mix 100 g bread flour with 100 g water (filtered, bottled or spring water) in a tall jar. Cover opening with cheesecloth or a paper towel secured with an elastic. Each subsequent day, add 50 g bread flour and 50 g water until the dough begins to bubble (5 to 10 days). See 6-hour time lapse video below.
If you already have a strong starter:
Important! For the proportions in this recipe to work properly, you must have been maintaining your starter at 50/50 flour/water additions.
Mix 200 g bread flour with 200 g water in the mixing bowl. Add 140 to 160 g starter. Mix well. Leave to ferment covered at least 8 hours. Makes 540 to 560 g starter (I do this the night before I make the bread the following day.) This is the starter mix.
Add 700 g water to the starter mix. Mix thoroughly. (Initially, the mass of the starter mix will float on the added water. If it doesn’t, then your starter was not vigorous enough and you will not get a good bread.)
Add 1050 g bread flour to the starter mix suspension. Mix until all the added flour is hydrated or wet. (I use a big rubber spatula.) Cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Add the salt solution and incorporate into the dough mass by manually squeezing the dough with your gloved hand. Let stand covered for 30 min.
At this point, the folding process begins. If you are a first-timer, see the exact procedure and accompanying video in Emma Christensen’s article I cited above. Here is the link once more. The folding procedure is done 6 times every half hour.
After the folding process, divide the dough into 4 equal parts. The preliminary shaping and second shaping of each of the portions of dough is as described in Christensen’s post.
Pack a ⅛-inch layer of all-purpose flour at the centre of each dishtowel. Transfer and centre the boule (ball of dough) folded side up on the flour layer on the dish towel. Transfer to the colander or the wicker basket, folding the dishtowel over the dough. Let ferment for about 4 hours.
Place the 4 dutch ovens in the oven. Preheat to 475 F.
One at a time: take a hot dutch oven out of the oven. Open the lid. Invert the dishtowel with the ball of dough into the pot. Score the top as you wish, or for a faster process, use kitchen scissors to cut deep grooves on the top. Cover and place back in the oven. Do the same for the rest.
(Sometimes the dough gets stuck to the dishtowel. This happens mostly because the layer of flour on the dishtowel was not thick enough.)
Bake at 475 F for 20 min. Reduce the heat to 425 and continue baking 10 min. Remove lids and continue baking an additional 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top crust is very dark brown.
Invert dutch oven on wire rack – the cooked bread should fall out easily.
Freeze bread in a ziplock removing as much air as possible. Alternatively, use a food sealer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator for consumption the next day.