Introduction: Quick ? Sourdough Bread
First things first.
This isn't a "real" sourdough bread, since the leavening is a hybrid of sourdough and dry yeast.
It also isn't really, really quick. It's quick in comparison to a standard 2 or 3 step sourdough bread and i wanted to enter it in the contest ;-)
While making sourdough bread takes some planning ahead, i make this bread to keep my sourdough alive and kicking.
Instead of throwing away what you add everytime you feed your sourdough, i use it to add nice flavours and aromas to my "refresher breads".
Some people take the feeding of their sourdough(s) extremely serious. They feed it every day and even take it with them on trips and vacations. (Must be funny to go through security/customs with a white powder and a undefinable liquid/gel in a jar. ROFL)
I even heard of a "sourdough Hotel", that opened during the pandemic... Sourdough Hotel I think, it's a good idea, but a little bit out of my financial range for a longer stay.
I feed it once a week and keep it in the fridge. When i'm not at home, it takes two or three weeks between feedings sometimes. These buggers can take some beatings. More on that in the preferment step.
I realize, that the leavening gets better after some subsequent feedings at room temperature, but to get the aromas of a mild sourdough, you can do it as described in this instructable.
There are good instructables on how to start your own sourdough. I started several and bought a couple of different ones over the years.
At the moment, i use a "Eva" sourdough from Italy. I keep feeding it for about two years now.
100g/3.5 oz sourdough (50/50 water/flour by weight)
450g/16 oz bread flour (mine is a type 850 or so)
300g/10 us fl oz water (tap water should be ok, as long as you also drink it, otherwise use bottled)
15g/0.5 oz salt (i take non iodized, but any salt should do)
2g/0.07 oz instant dried yeast. (or 6g/0.2 oz fresh (pressed) yeast)
I bought my first digital scale when i started to bake. If the resolution is one gram, you can't measure 2 grams precise enough. I used to just pinch in the dried yeast in the past (the packet holds 7grams, so i used about a third) But i bought a additional scale lately, that shows 0.1 grams resolution and goes up to 3000g for 15 bucks.
If you don't have a scale, you can use a baking calculator to convert to volumetric measurements.
Be sure to fully open the images, most of them are commented.
Step 1: Get Your Preferment Going
I'm a big fan of preferments.
Allthough you could mix all the ingredients together and wait until the leavening starts, i normally do it in two steps.
The preferment is quite liquid or batter-like.
So i measure 200g/7oz of flour into the bowl, add 100g/3.5oz of sourdough and 300g(ml)/10 us fl oz of tepid water, mix it and let it stand at room temperature.
To speed it up, you can let it ferment at up to 34° Celsius / 93° Fahrenheit or so. (I put it into the oven and switch it on for a short time. I'm thinking about building a temperature controlled fermenter box for some time...)
Wait until you see the first signs of activity. This should happen after about 3 to 4 hours.
Sometimes, when it gets to late in the evening, i put it in the fridge overnight. But it takes some time until it's warm again, so take it out early enough the next day, or when you need it.
While i make the preferment, i also feed the sourdough for next use. This is the secondary goal of baking this bread. (in German, it's called "Auffrischbrot" something like "refresher bread")
While i only leave about a tablespoon of sourdough in the glass jar, i add 50g/ml/1.7us fl oz of water and mix it. Then i add 50g/1.76 oz of flour and mix it again. Then i also keep this mix warm with the preferment until first signs of activity. Then i put it in the fridge until next week.
There are ways of securing your beloved sourdough, like drying or freezing. But this isn't the scope of this instructable.
Step 2: Make the Dough
When your preferment is ready, you can add the remaining ingredients and knead the dough.
15g/0.5oz salt (i like my bread somewhat salty, the WHO recommends less. 10g)
2g/0.07oz of active dried yeast (of course you can use more to speed it up, but i don't recommend it)
Mix it and knead it until you get a smooth dough.
I like to use my breadmaker to mix and knead my small amount doughs. (many people buy these breadmakers and sell them later, because they don't use them more than a couple of times...)
I let the breadmaker knead for about 10 minutes in the pizza dough mode.(kneading only)
Then i let it sit for 30 minutes and give it a stretch and fold. (In the bread maker, i start the kneading for only a couple of turns.) Repeat stretch and fold once or twice, until you see the dough rising and/or you see bubbles on the dough while stretch and fold.
After about 90 to 120 minutes your dough should have grown considerably. (If you don't stretch and fold, it should have doubled its volume. But the stretch and fold routine gives the dough a better stand and lets you handle doughs with a higher water to flour ratio.)
This fermenting time is also known as bulk rest.
Step 3: Form Your Loaf
After the dough has risen, it's time to form your loaf.
Depending on how moist your dough is, you need to flour your hands and working surface. Be sure to only use as much flour as needed and brush off exess flour. (i brush it off by hand)
Since i make two loaves, i divide the dough and press it flat into a more or less rectangular form.
See comments on the pictures.
Then i roll it up and press the seam down. Flour it and let it stand covered by clingwrap or a baking towel.
When you form dough, make sure to let it relax 5 to 10 minutes between steps that stretch the dough.
If your loaves don't look pretty yet, that's no problem.
After 10 minutes,flatten the dough and bring it to your desired length. Keep the form parallel and the thickness even this time.
Then fold it over and press down the seam towards you.
Then place the loaves on baking paper with the seams facing down.
Cover it with clingwrap or a floured towel, or put it into a humid closed space. I do it by putting a wide shallow bowl of hot tap water into the (second) oven. This way, i can also elevate the temperature to 32°C/90°F for the 45 to 60 min. bench rest.
During the bench rest, i preheat the other oven to 270°C/520°F. With the pizza stone, this takes about 30 min. Without the stone, it would probably take around 10 min. to heat up.
Step 4: Baking
Baking bread should be done with falling heat and steam in the beginning.
Further the starting temperature should be quite high. Most electric ovens i know don't heat over 250°C/480°F. My old small oven goes to 300°C/570°F. I wanted to replace it, because the hinges don't close the door correctly anymore. But i found out, that the only two companies selling ovens of this seize(outside height is only 380mm/15"), now only sell ovens that go up to 250°C/480°F. They also don't sell replacement hinges anymore, so i'm trying to find them used.
So if your oven also has this limitation, just go as high as possible. Just adjust the time until first browning.
The baking time doesn't really depend on the temperature, but on the thickest diameter of your bread. In my case the loaves were about 360mm/14" long and 70mm/2.75" in diameter after the bench rest. This gives a baking time of 30 minutes.
The easy way: Heat up your oven to 250-270°C/480-520°F, if you have a pizza stone, use it. Insert your loaves into the oven. With a pizza stone, try to shove in the loaves with the baking paper directly on the stone. I do this by jerking out the aluminum baking sheet, when the loaves are over the stone.
Steamy way: When the oven reaches the set temperature, i put a heavy shallow skillet or baking pan on the oven floor. Then i add some 150-200ml/5-7 fl oz hot tap water and make sure the lower heat of the oven is on. Then i prepare the loaves.
I prepare the loaves by removing the clingwrap, towel, or taking them out of the fermenting room(a second oven in my case).
I sprinkle cold tap water over the loaves (by hand) until they are completely wet. I hold the baking sheet over the sink at a angle, so the exess water can flow off the baking paper.
Then i score the loaves with a slight angle about 10mm/0.5" deep. (see pictures)
If the dough was on the soft/moist side and the loaf flowed wide during the bench rest, i don't score them. This way, the loaves grow higher.
By the time i insert the loaves into the oven, the water in the skillet is boiling.
With a pizza stone, i keep only the lower heat on. (I also use the convection fan)
Without pizza stone, i keep lower and upper heat on.
Now, you need to keep a eye on your loaves. When you see the first spots of browning, turn down the heat to around 200°C/390°F. This should take around 4-7 minutes, depending on your oven. (falling heat) (see pictures)
After this time, you should also remove the "steam skillet" except all the water has evaporated. This way, you vent the steam in order to get a nice and crunchy crust. I also switch back to lower and upper heat with the steam method.
If you want it extra crunchy, you can vent the moist air in the oven 2-3 times during the remaining baking time by fully opening the oven door for 2-3 seconds or so.
During the last 5 to 8 minutes you can increase the temperature, if you want darker loaves.
Step 5: Enjoy Your Work
This wasn't exactly a quick and dirty way of baking bread. But it's the quickest way to bake a outstanding artisanal bread with a abundance of flavours, aromas and textures.
Alltough i have the privilege to live in a region where we have around 3 good traditional bakeries in a 8km/5mi. radius, i still love to bake bread myself.
I do it mostly for sunday morning brunches, but also for fondues or sandwiches with selfmade pastrami. Or just because i get a itching...
I love to eat it pure with a good butter or a nice olive oil. (This one originates in Calabria Italy and was brought here by a friends coworkers private family farm.)
Feel free to ask questions and/or add comments and visit my other mostly baking related instruchtables.
Participated in the
Bread Speed Challenge
2 years ago
Very well explained :)