Updated: Mar 15
This artisan sourdough bread recipe is a great way to learn the basics of bread baking and develop your skills in the kitchen. With just a few simple ingredients and some practice, you can create delicious, homemade bread that will impress your friends and family. Give it a try!
This recipe will give you not just one beautiful sourdough bread but two of them! This way you can practice your shaping and baking skills while creating enough bread to last for a few days.
Sourdough bread is the "real" bread, a healthier and more flavourful alternative to other types of bread. It is definitely worth giving it a try if you haven't already!
Feed your sourdough starter 4-8 hrs before the final mix.
50g Sourdough Starter
150g Organic Strong Bread Flour
FINAL DOUGH MIX:
You should be aiming for a dough temp of around 26ºC.
850g Organic, high in protein white bread flour. Feel free to mix with whole-grain flour.
250g Sourdough Starter (LEVAIN)
25g salt dissolved in 10g water
First, add the water to your plastic container. Then, slowly add and mix all the flour in. After they are mixed together and there is no dry flour left in your mixture, cover the container and put it aside for 40 minutes. This process is called AUTOLYSE and it's the kick-start of gluten development.
What is AUYOLYSE?
Autolyse is the step of the sourdough bread-making process which involves mixing flour and water together and allowing them to rest for a period of time, typically 25 minutes up to 4hrs, before adding the rest of the ingredients (sourdough starter and salt).
During the autolyse phase, the flour absorbs the water and begins to break down. It releases enzymes that help to improve the dough's texture and flavour. This process also makes the dough easier to knead and leads to a more uniform crumb structure in the finished bread.
Second, add your sourdough starter and the salt dissolved in 10g of water and mix everything together. The mix will feel wet and that is impossible for the flour to take all the starter & water but mixing will do the trick. So, keep mixing until everything is well combined. Cover the dough and bulk ferment it for around 2-3 hrs depending on the room temperature. Aim to stretch and fold the dough 4 times every 35 mins.
The first stretch & fold: Do it after 35 minutes. Wet your hands & do 4-6 stretches & folds until the dough tightens and shape it into a tight ball.
The second stretch & fold: Do it after 35 minutes, just repeat the process.
The third stretch & fold: Do it after 35 minutes, just repeat the process.
The fourth stretch & fold: Do it after 35 minutes, just repeat the process. The dough should feel pillowy, and strong and begin to hold its shape. Now it’s time for pre-shape.
Divide the dough into two loaves and pre-shape. (If the dough feels nice and pillowy and holds its shape you can skip the pre-shaping.) Leave it uncovered on the bench for 20 mins (bench rest). Don't worry if thin skin forms. After the bench rests it’s time for the final shape. The aim is to build a lot of tension that will hold the shape during the long Cool Temperature final proving.
Make sure your dough has had sufficient time to bulk ferment and develop gluten. This will make it easier to shape and help the bread rise properly.
If the dough is sticky, flour your work surface: Spread a thin layer of flour on your work surface to prevent the dough from sticking as you shape it, don't put flour on top of the dough.
Gently flatten the dough with your hands into a rectangular shape.
Fold the top third of the dough down to the centre, then fold the bottom third up to the centre.
Use your fingertips to gently press the seams together, sealing the dough.
Flip the dough over and use your hands to create surface tension by gently pulling the dough towards you and tucking it under itself.
Place the shaped dough into a proofing basket, seam side up.
Remember, shaping takes practice, so don't be discouraged if your first few loaves don't turn out perfectly. With time and experience, you'll become more comfortable and confident with the process.
Now put the dough in a lightly floured basket seam side up, stitch it. (I prefer rice flour for this as it has no gluten & prevents the dough from sticking).
Next, cover the basket with a shower cap and put your loaf straight into the fridge. Then refrigerate overnight for up to 8-15 hours.
And now the easiest part!! Put your dutch oven or pizza steel into the oven, and preheat it for 50 minutes. Bring your bread from the refrigerator, score the bread and bake it covered at 250°C (or with the steam) for 25 mins, uncover (or remove the steam) and bake it at 230°C for another 10-15 mins or until you like the colour! More dark, more flavour!
Use a very sharp razor blade. A sharp blade, such as a razor blade or a bread-scoring knife, will make it easier to score the dough and create clean cuts.
Hold the blade at a 45-degree angle to the surface of the dough. This will allow the cuts to expand properly during baking and create an attractive pattern on the surface of the bread.
Make confident, swift cuts into the dough. Slow or hesitant cuts can drag the dough and create a ragged edge.
Make sure to score the dough deeply enough to allow for proper expansion during baking. Shallow cuts can result in a dense or undercooked crumb.
Experiment with different patterns.
Score the dough just before baking, as this will help ensure that the cuts expand properly and create a beautiful crust.
Remember that letting the sourdough bread cool after baking is an important step of the process. It allows the crumb structure to set and the flavours to develop fully.
The ideal cooling time for sourdough bread will depend on a variety of factors, such as the size and shape of the loaf, the ambient temperature and humidity. For this recipe, I would recommend waiting at least 1-2 hours before slicing it.
During this time, the bread should be left uncovered on a grid with good air circulation to prevent the crust from becoming too moist. Once the bread is completely cooled, it can be sliced and enjoyed, or stored in an airtight container or bread bag to keep it fresh. You can freeze one of them as well if you wish.
When I first started baking sourdough, my main goal was to achieve a huge open crumb. I spent countless hours adjusting my recipe and technique to try to create those beautiful, airy holes in my sourdough bread. However, as I've continued to bake sourdough, my preferences have shifted.
Nowadays, I find that I much prefer a more even crumb that can hold up to toppings in sandwiches. While the open crumb is certainly impressive to look at, it can make it difficult to keep fillings in place when making a sandwich. With an even crumb, I can pile on my favorite ingredients without worrying about everything falling out when I take a bite.
Open crumb tips:
A dough with a higher hydration level (75% or higher) can help create a more open crumb because the extra water makes the dough more extensible and easier to stretch and fold.
Fermentation time can greatly affect the structure of your bread, and a longer fermentation can lead to a more open crumb. You can try extending your bulk fermentation time or doing a longer cold proof in the fridge.
Be gentle when handling your dough to avoid overworking it, which can lead to a dense crumb. Use a technique like the "stretch and fold" method instead of kneading to help develop gluten while still being gentle on the dough.
A healthy, active sourdough starter can help create a more open crumb by producing more gas during fermentation. Make sure your starter is fed regularly and is at its peak before using it in your dough.
Scoring your dough before baking can help create weak spots that allow the bread to expand during baking, leading to a more open crumb. Experiment with different scoring patterns to find what works best for your bread.
Thanks so much for reading. If you'd like to keep in touch with the latest from Rene's Pizza then please follow me on social media. JOIN PERFECT SOURDOUGH PIZZA GROUP ON FACEBOOK
P.S. Share your photos with me via Social Media! 😉