If you’ve read my post on sourdough starter, you’ve seen how to make your very own starter and how easy it is. So now that you have one…what the heck do you do with it? You make Sourdough of course!
A lot of people I know are intimidated by breads, let alone sourdough bread. Don’t be! It’s not as hard as you may think. You’ve already got the starter, the hard part is done! Now as with all things, you just need to know the basic techniques and what to look for. Let’s get started.
250g Bread Flour
1C Sourdough Starter (we use cup measurements because weight varies due to Co2 production from the yeast)
6g kosher salt
First thing you’re going to do, is put your sourdough starter in an electric mixing bowl, and add the water to it. Mix it on low until most of the starter has broken up. This makes the starter happy and wakes the yeast up.
Add the Yeast over the top and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Natural starters take a long time to proof. Adding a little extra yeast to it, helps it proof as well as helps to add to the beautiful air pockets we love in artisanal breads.
Once the yeast has started to bloom, you’re going to add your Bread Flour. Now here’s the tricky part and when knowing what to look for is necessary. You may need to add a little more water or a little more flour…this is normal. What you’re looking for is what’s called the “Window” stage. You’re going to mix the dough with the paddle until there are enough glutenous strands to allow it to stretch thin enough to almost see through. Once it reaches this stage, add the salt and continue to beat with paddle until salt is incorporated. It’s important to add the salt last. This is the retardant for the bread that allows it to rise properly. If you add it too early, it will come in direct contact with the yeast and kill it.
Now you’re going to let it rise to double it’s current size. This could take a while. LET IT!!! Since this is sourdough, you want it to ferment as much as possible as it rises. The slower the better! Approximately 3-4 hours.
Once it’s doubled in size, dump the dough out onto a well floured work surface. We’re going to do what’s known as “Benching”. Cut the dough into 2 equal portions. The dough is going to be very wet. As we bench the dough, more flour is going to be worked into it.
Take each piece and stretch it out about three times it’s current length and fold it in on itself. Flip it over so it’s seam side is down. Let the dough rest until it’s flattened out again. When you press it lightly with your finger, it leaves an indent that slowly pushes back out.
Once it’s reached this point, you’re going to bench the dough again, folding it in on itself again, and placing it seam side down again to rest. Once it’s flattened out again and your finger indent pushes back out slowly, you’re going to bench the dough again.
This time, before you bench the dough, you’re going to take a sheet tray, and lightly sprinkle a small amount of cornmeal on the bottom. This is what keeps your bread from sticking.
When you bench the bread this time, place it seam side down on the cornmeal covered sheet tray. leave enough room between them to rise quite a bit while baking.
Turn your oven up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Once your oven is preheated, take a small pan and place it on a burner getting it to the point of almost smoking. Place this pan in the bottom of the oven. Put your sheet tray of soon to be sourdough glory in the oven on the bottom rack. Add about a cup of ice to the hot pan on the bottom of the oven. This creates a large amount of humidity to allow the bread to rise and get that artisanal holey interior.
Set a timer for about 20 minutes. After that 20 minutes, turn your pan. Set your timer for another 15 minutes, and keep an eye on the bread. Once the outside has become a deep golden brown, take the bread out and check it for doneness by just tapping the outside. It should sound hollow and the crust should be very solid. If it’s not quite there, give it another 10 minutes.
Once the bread is done, place it on a cooling rack and let it cool down at least ¾ of the way before slicing. I know it’s hard, but if you don’t do this, you’ll compress the beautiful interior making it slightly gummy.
That’s it! As always, if you try out any of the recipes posted here for you, let me know! Take pictures, leave a comment, or Shoot me an email!
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