Introduction: Make Your Own Sourdough Bread

I love baking. Somehow I took up the challenge of baking my own sourdough bread!
My husband has an intolerance to commercial yeast so sourdough bread is great for him, and, what is not to like about a rustic, delicious loaf of fresh bread?! ..
Read on and learn to make your own sourdough bread too.


Dutch oven
Big bowl
Strong arms (for kneading)
Sourdough starter*

*learn to make your own or contact me via email to buy some from me. I can mail it to you. I usually charge $5.00 for a starter.

Step 1: Ready, Set, Bake!

Step 2: The Starter!

Starter is the ingredient that makes your sourdough bread to rise.
To make sourdough starter you simply mix equal amounts of flour and water together. Let this mixture sit for a day at room temperature. Over the course of a week you continue to "feed" and discard starter, building up a strong fermentation process. The flour and water actually harvest natural yeasts in the air. So cool right!! This is what enables your bread to rise. My starter is a year and a half old, so it is now mature.

Step 3: Making Your Dough

I use a scale to measure my ingredients if I'm feeling like a perfectionist. Normally I just add what looks like the right amount and start kneading. For now stick to the recipe though.
Into your bowl add:
400g all purpose flour
8g salt
240ml warm water (bottled or boiled preferably)
170g active starter

An active starter is one that is very bubbly and is ready for feeding. The bread making process will be feeding the starter in this case.
Roughly mix all your ingredients together and flip onto counter for kneading.

Step 4: Kneading the Dough

Personally I like to knead my breads by hand. I hate cleaning doughy kneading hooks and mixer bowls. Keep it simple.
Once you have your dough out on the counter begin to knead. Using your palms, stretch the dough forward, and pull back with your finger tips, folding it over. There isn't a right and a wrong to kneading, all your really doing is stretching the dough to develop the gluten in it.
Continue this process till your dough is looking smooth. Also look up the "window pane effect".
I'm a pretty strong kneader so it doesn't take me long but just let the dough tell you when it's ready.
A big temptation is to add flour as the dough will be somewhat sticky. Try not to add flour, this will create a dry bread. I limit myself to using an extra 10-15 grams

Step 5: Bulk Fermentation. (first Rise)

After you have kneaded your dough, place it in a greased bowl and let rise for about 3-5 hr. A warm place is best for this such as in the oven with the light on. Dough should double in size.
This rise is called the bulk fermentation.

Step 6: Shaping Your Loaf

Shaping your loaf may be more important than you think. If you fail to shape a loaf correctly you may result in a pretty flat loaf that spreads out rather than up. After all the work you put in so far, let's try to get this dough shaped right!

I tried to take some pictures of how to do this. Gently dump the risen dough onto the counter. Imagine the dough is a square, pull/stretch each side and fold over top. This builds tension on the surface of the dough which helps it hold it's shape. Continue pulling and folding till you have a nice tight ball. You may like to look up a video so you can visualise this technique.
Place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of your dutch oven pan and set your loaf inside.
Put the lid on and let rise again. This is the final rise. It tends to go much quicker. Usually 1-2 hr. Poke the dough periodically to see if it's ready for baking. When you poke the dough it should not spring back completely, about halfway back the indentation you made.

Step 7: Baking

Score/slash your loaf with a sharp knife, ideally a bakers lame. I usually just use a new blade from my utility knife. Put the dutch oven with the lid on into the oven. Next, turn the oven on to 425 F. Allowing the oven to slowly heat up with the bread inside gives it perfect environment to rise high. Set timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes are up, carefully remove the lid. This is a fun step because you get to finally see how it looks and how it rose. Bake for another 30 minutes. Take out of the dutch oven and place on wire rack to cool.

Step 8: Enjoy:)

This step requires next to no instructions. Enjoy warm with butter, or simply however you like. Grilled cheese is one of my favourite ways to eat sourdough bread. When your bread starts to get dry from age it's great to make french toast with.

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