Baking- Breads,  Sourdough,  Sourdough Breads

Basic Sourdough Bread

So you’ve spent a week making a sourdough starter (if not, check out my sourdough starter guide). You have flour, salt, and water and you’re ready to go. But what tools do I need? How much salt and water do you need? Why does that amount of water looks like a lot of water? What is this stretch and fold thing? Calm down, sourdough is only scary if you make it scary.

Tools

You do not need fancy things to make sourdough. Some fancy things do make life easier. A basic, you need some bowls, a sharp knife, plastic wrap, and some cloth towels. Because you can make the dough by hand so you don’t need a mixer.

Some items that would make your life easier:

Stretch and Fold

Instead of kneading the dough in the traditional sense you have to stretch the dough, and fold it over. Wetting your hand, run it between the dough and the side of the bowl, scraping the bottom of the bowl. Then Pull the dough across to the other side of the bowl. Do this 4 or 5 times around the side of the bowl. This stretch and fold process creates gluten. The gluten is what will later help our bread hold shape.

Stretch
Fold

This process is done 6 times spaced apart. For the first hour, stretch and fold every 15 minutes. Each set of stretch and folds will help the dough develop gluten and air pockets. Set a timer on your phone so you do not forget!

Mixing by Hand or Mixing by Stand Mixer?

Everyone loves to say their method of mixing bread dough is the best method. There are breads that I mix by hand, others that I use a stand mixer for, and some that I use a Danish Bread Whisk for. This seriously comes down to personal preference. And there is no shame in mixing bread with your stand mixer. Today’s bread was mixed together with my Kitchenaid Mixer. Use what you’re comfortable with.

If you use a stand mixer, please do the window pain method to check gluten development before deciding how many times you need to stretch and fold. You might only need 2-3 before your dough is beautifully smooth and you can leave it to rest.

Let dough rest for 3-6 hours. If you are letting it rest in a proofing box, or oven on the proof setting you will not need the whole time. Check your dough after 2 hours. Give your dough space to proof, you are aiming for just under double in size. Also make sure that you cover the bowl with cling wrap or a skin will form on your dough.

Shaping and Overnight Proof

When you are ready to shape and divide your dough, pay attention to how your dough is reacting. If it does not want to hold shape at all, you might have left it to proof too long in the first stage. This happens, its a learning game. As you make more bread, you’ll learn how the hydration levels react.

Using a dough scraper divide your dough into two sections and work with one at a time. Side Note: as I learned from Julia Child in the French Chef, a clean putting knife, between 6 and 10 inches, will also work for this. The dough is sticky so you will want to use the scraper to fold and shape the dough into a ball. Lightly flour your hands, place them behind the dough ball, drag the ball across the counter towards you. Rotate the ball so the top remains on top- you are aiming to create surface tension across the top and a seam on the bottom.

Place top side down in a proofing basket that has been liberally dusted with rice flour. If you do not have proofing baskets you can use a basket or a bowl with a tea towel dusted with rice flour in it. Rice flour is used because it prevents sticking, regular flour would work too.

Put the basket in a proofing bag and let it rest in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. I usually save fruit bags from the supermarket but today crockpot liners will do. Additionally, I have used zip lock bags for this, due to the size of my proofing baskets, I needed 2 bags per loaf. If you are aiming to bake today, leave in a warm place for 2 hours.

Baking:

One hour before you are ready to bake, preheat your oven as hot as possible with a cast iron dutch oven already inside with the lid on. This creates a super hot spot in your oven for your bread to go into.

Slowly and gently pour your loaf onto a sheet of parchment paper. Dust with flour. With a super sharp knife or lame, score the top of the loaf. The scores will allow for steam to leave loaf as it bakes in the dutch oven. To score, slice into the top of the loaf cutting about 1/3 of an inch down.

Carefully, place the loaf in the dutch oven. Put the lid on and let it bake for 20 minutes. Inside the dutch oven, the loaf is steaming and cooking. This is the part of the bake that creates the oven rise and the crust. Remove the lid of the dutch oven and let it bake for another 25 to 30 minutes. Sourdough loaves should be baked to a dark golden. This is not a blonde loaf.

Basic Sourdough Loaf

A basic sourdough bread that tastes amazing!
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 55 mins
Inactive Time 18 hrs
Total Time 19 hrs 55 mins
Course Side Dish
Servings 2 loafs

Equipment

  • Cast iron dutch oven or cast iron combo cooker
  • Dough scraper or large clean putty knife
  • Proofing baskets
  • Proofing bags
  • Lame

Ingredients
  

Levine

  • 74 g all-purpose flour
  • 37 g fed sourdough starter
  • 74 g water

Bread

  • 850 g all purpose flour
  • 550 g warm water
  • 15 g salt

Instructions
 

Day 1

  • To make the Levine, mix together 74 g all-purpose flour, 37 g fed sourdough, and 74 g water. Let this sit in proofing box, oven on proof, or a warm spot for 6 hours.
  • An hour before the Levine is ready, mix together 850 g All-Purpose Flour, 550 g water, and 15 g salt. Let sit for an hour in the same warm spot as the Levine.
  • When the Levine is ready, create a well in the bread flour mixture and pour the Levine into it. Mix to combine. This can be done by hand or in a KitchenAid mixture with a dough hook. Once fully combined, let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Over the next hour and a half, stretch and fold the dough. To stretch and fold- take one side of the dough, pull it as far as it will stretch then fold it to the other side of the dough. Do this all around the dough.
  • After the last stretch and fold, left the dough rest 3-6 hours until just under double in size
  • Turn dough out onto the counter and divide into two loaves. Shape dough into two balls creating surface tension across the top.
  • Place into proofing basket, top side down, and place into a proofing bag before putting into the refrigerator overnight for 12-24 hours.

Day 2

  • The next day, put a cast iron dutch oven in the oven set to 500 F Degrees (or as high as your oven goes).
  • After an hour, take one loaf out of the refrigerator. Gently pour loaf onto parchment paper and score with Lame or sharp knife.
  • Carefully, place in the dutch oven putting the lid on and bake for 25 minutes. Remove lid and bake for 20-25 minutes more.
  • After removing from the oven, return the lid to the dutch oven for 15 minutes before repeating the process with the other loaf
  • Let cool completely before enjoying.

Notes

This recipe is adapted from FoodGeek’s Basic Sourdough recipe. It has been updated to use All-Purpose Flour and amounts have changed to adapt to how AP flour differs from Bread Flour.
NOTE: You can substitute whole wheat flour for PART of the All-Purpose Flour. I would suggest using 150 g whole wheat flour with 700 g All-Purpose flour.
 

Sample Time Line

Day 1:
  • 8 AM – Create Levine
  • 12 PM- Create dough
  • 1 PM- Knead together dough and Levine.
  • 1:15 PM- Stretch and Fold
  • 1:30 PM- Stretch and Fold
  • 1:45 PM- Stretch and Fold
  • 2:00 PM- Stretch and Fold
  • 2:15 PM- Stretch and Fold
  • 2:30 PM- Stretch and Fold
  • 5:00 PM- Shape Dough then place in fridge
Day 2
  • 8 AM- Turn oven to 500 degrees with dutch oven inside
  • 9 AM- Score Loaf and place in dutch oven
  • 9:25 AM- Remove Lid
  • 9:50-9:55 AM- Remove bread from oven and put the lid back on the dutch oven
  • 10:10 AM – Repeat with the second loaf.
  • 10:35 AM- Remove Lid
  • 11:00 AM- Remove the second loaf from the oven
  • 1:00 PM – ENJOY

For more bread recipes check out my other recipes here!

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