The Sourdough Experience Pt. 2 – Bread-making

I’ll be honest; making bread while I was working a 9-5 job outside the home was difficult; it’s a long process, and even though it can be easy, it’s one of those things that needs a little bit of attention a lot of different times throughout the day. So if you’re lucky to be able to be at home for a majority of the day, this is project that can easily happen on a regular basis.

This recipe is not going to use any outside yeast.

It also means that a majority of the flour is fermented by the time it is baked, which has some pretty great possibilities for anyone with gluten intolerance; the short story is that as the wheat is fermented, and no additional raw flour is added, it breaks down the chemical in the grain that many people are allergic to. Stay tuned for another post about that! 

There are many recipes for “sourdough” bread that use a little bit of starter, but then add yeast and sourdough flavoring to get it to rise and have that iconic sour taste. To me, that kind of defeats the purpose of all the hard work you put into making and keeping a sourdough starter! In exchange for the quickness of active or instant dry yeast, a starter will give you the same (but better tasting and better-for-you) results, though it takes a bit more time. BUT, it’s still just as easy; it’s simply that the process is stretched over a longer period of time. So let’s get going!

The night before:

The first thing you will do is “feed” your starter, and place the “discarded” 8 ounces of starter in a stand mixer mixing bowl. Mix in 12 ounces of water and 12 ounces of all purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups of water and 2 1/2 cups of flour) till no dry flour remains, and let sit out overnight. It should look bubbly in the morning like the photo above. This kind of acts as a larger quantity of starter to get your two loaves nicely raised. As the yeast and bacteria eats up the sugars in the flour, it creates fermentation and gases that act as leavening to your final product. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?

Put the bowl on your mixer, and knead in 1 tablespoon of salt, 2 1/2 teaspoons of sugar, and UP TO 3 cups of flour. I usually add a cup, then let it incorporate, then add the flour several tablespoons at a time until the dough comes firmly together, doesn’t stick to your bowl, and is elastic but still slightly tacky to the touch and has a little bit of a sheen to it. This may take 8-10 minutes; don’t worry about over-mixing. It’s better to get the right consistency than to stop prematurely.

Let this rise again for 4-6 hours, or more if you live in a cold house like I do. You basically want it to look a bit puffy, and have a definite increase in size.

Cut into two pieces, and form into loaves on your baking sheet. I’d normally lay them on parchment paper, but I’m currently out… so do as I say, not as I do?

Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for another hour or two.

When the loaves have risen and almost doubled in size, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Once the oven is ready, use a sharp knife to gently cut three slashes across the top of each loaf, give the loaves a spritz with some water (this will soften the outside so as to let them rise in the oven in the first few minutes without cracking before the crust hardens) and bake for 20-30 minutes, till the loaves are slightly brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Let cool completely on a wire rack, or two dowels/chopsticks laid parallel.

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No-Yeast Traditional Sourdough

– 1 cup sourdough starter
– 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) filtered water
– 4 to 5 cups flour, divided
– 1 Tbls salt
– 2 1/2 tsp sugar

  1. Mix sourdough starter, 12 ounces of water, and 12 ounces of flour in a mixing bowl and let sit overnight.
  2. Knead in salt, sugar, and up to 3 cups of flour; you may use much less, depending on the moisture content of your flour. Start with one cup, then add flour a few tablespoons at a time towards the end of the kneading. This can take up to 8-10 minutes. Don’t worry about over kneading; it’s better to get the right consistency than to stop prematurely. You want the dough to be firm, but flexible, slightly tacky and having a slight shiny sheen on it. It should pull away from the bowl cleanly.
  3. Let rise again for 4-6 hours; you’ll want to to rise significantly, and look puffy and alive.
  4. Form into loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise another 1-2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Use a sharp knife to gently make three slashes across the tops of the loaves, then spritz or brush loaves with water to keep the outside soft as it finishes it’s rising in the heat of the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes, till lightly brown on top and hollow-sounding when tapped on the bottom. Cool completely before slicing.
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