Recipe courtesy of Quinn Link
It appears that we have some extra time on our hands...
Prior to the domestication of what is known as baker’s yeast, humans used wild fungi to leaven their baked goods. For thousands of years we have lived symbiotically with these microorganisms and have provided them with spoonfuls of flour and places to live in our cupboards in exchange for their routine consumption. While many of us have grown accustomed to the flavour and consistency (in both meanings of the word) provided by baker’s yeast, there exists some 1,500 species of yeast throughout the natural world that can make for some unique and delicious bread.
Making your perfect loaf of Sourdough Bread at home:
Starting your starter:
Maintaining a sourdough starter is a little bit like having a baby. Luckily, however, raising a colony of single-celled organisms carries little of the economic burden that comes with raising a child and there is virtually no risk of projecting your shortcomings in life onto your starter. The only thing the owner of a starter needs to worry about is keeping it alive.
How to make your starter:
Clean out an old jam-jar and add 50g of flour* and 50g of filtered water (no chlorine)
Mix flour and water thoroughly
Around the same time every day add 1 Tbsp of flour and 1 Tbsp of water into the jar, and mix until combined.
Once you notice that your starter is beginning to bubble and foam, it is ready
*You can use whatever flour you have access to but I recommend rye. Rye starters tend to be easier to maintain and have a great flavour.
Maintaining a starter:
Keeping your starter alive comes down to feeding it enough flour and water. Several factors, including the temperature and size of the starter will dictate how much it should be fed but there is no formula for the perfect feeding schedule. If you plan on making bread often you should store your starter at room temperature and feed it at least once a day. More casual bakers should leave their starter in the refrigerator and feed it weekly. It’s normal for sourdough starter to smell anywhere from rotting fruit to oh so familiar baker’s yeast, but if the starter forms an alcoholic aroma it could mean that you are feeding it too little. It may take some time but I am confident you will figure out how to take care of your starter.
Before you start baking it is important to plan out your sourdough timeline.This process can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be but you should have a clear idea of what you need to do and when. What I have written below is merely my way of baking sourdough and I tweak this recipe as often as I make bread. Unfortunately, the reality of sourdough is that you can follow these instructions perfectly and your bread may not turn out as expected. All you can do is learn from the losses and triumphs of each loaf you bake.
Recipe for 2 Loaves of Bread
Step 1: Bring your starter to room temperature overnight if you store it in the fridge.
Step 2: Re-feed your starter.
Pour off part of the starter. The flour you fed it the day before has been depleted of its natural sugars. Leave a few spoonfuls of starter at the bottom of your jar. This excess dough can be used in other recipes so don’t waste it – eat it.
Add 75g of flour and 75g of water into the jar and mix well.
Allow to reach peak activation (3-4 hours).
Step 3: Autolyse your dough.
While your starter reaches peak activation, mix 1000g of flour and around 750g of water into a scraggly dough (don't knead it). As you become more experienced you can increase the amount of water you add, but it is better to start with a less hydrated dough because it is easier to handle.
Allow this mixture to sit for at least 45 minutes. The purpose of this step is to allow the gluten structure of your bread to develop.
Step 4: Forming your dough.
Add 150-200g of activated starter and 20g of salt to your autolysed dough.
Combine ingredients by folding and stretching the dough (do not knead it). I recommend watching a video if you haven’t seen how this is done.
Continue to fold and stretch your dough for a minute or two every 30 minutes until 2 hours has elapsed.
Step 5: Bulk Fermentation.
The dough needs to ferment as a whole, but the time this takes will vary greatly depending on the temperature at which you carry this step out. On a warm day (+30°C) or in a proofing drawer this may take 4-5 hours. Under colder conditions this can take up to 12 hours.
I often reach to the bulk fermentation stage later in the day so I place my dough in the fridge and allow it to ferment overnight (approx. 12 hours).
Step 6: Shaping the Dough.
Take your dough out from the fridge if you’ve let it ferment overnight and let it sit at room temperature for around 90 minutes.
Place the dough onto a floured surface and cut into two halves.
Shape your dough. I could try and explain a technique for doing this but it's better if you just watch someone do this step and figure out how to do it yourself.
Bench Rest for 30 minutes.
Step 7: Proof Dough
Place the dough seam side up into a well floured proofing basket or a bowl lined with a well floured tea towel.
Cover and let proof for around 3 hours. When you poke the dough it should spring back partially, only leaving a slight dent. If it springs back completely let it proof longer and if it stays dented it has over proofed.
Step 8: Bake
Ideally use a dutch oven or ceramic pot with a lid to bake bread.
Preheat your dutch oven to 230°C. Generously flour the bottom of your dutch oven and transfer your loaf into the dutch oven and cover with the lid. Place the dutch oven back into your oven and reduce the temperature to 210°C. Cook for 25 minutes with the lid on and then remove the lid for the final 20 minutes of baking. Times may vary so you have to use your intuition.
Allow your bread to cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes.
That's it, thanks for reading! If you decide to make this please share it with us :)