Here's A Step-By-Step Guide To Walk You Through Making Sourdough Bread
If I can do it, you can too.
By now, your entire Instagram feed is probably full of pictures of homemade sourdough. So perhaps by now, you've been tempted to try it out for yourself.
About a month ago, intrigued by all these doughy and airy loaves, I decided to try baking my own. But I immediately felt overwhelmed by all the sourdough recipes and instructions that call for two to three days of work, page upon page of directions, and constant kneading and folding. I felt destined for failure before I even began baking.
But after about a month filled with baking and eating delicious sourdough, I can confidently say baking this bread from scratch is far less intimidating than it may seem. Here's a step-by-step guide to get you started.
But first, here are a few things I want to mention:
-I'm not a professional baker. I have no idea about the science behind baking bread, and until very recently, I never baked often. I'm telling you this because you shouldn't consider the following a professional guide. Consider it your average beginner's tutorial, written by a fellow novice baker. Do I make sourdough to rival Tartine's famous loaves? Abbbbbsolutely not. But I've practiced enough to make bread that tastes pretty damn delicious, which is good enough for me.
-You'll find tons of sourdough recipes online with slightly different instructions, but these steps will work for just about any recipe you're following. Just make sure to use the designated types and amounts of flour, water, and starter.
-If you're looking for a recipe to get you started, my absolute favorite has been Claire Saffitz's sourdough recipe from New York Times cooking. The Perfect Loaf also has a great beginner's sourdough recipe as does food blog Alexandra Cooks.
First things first: You'll need an active starter that's ready for baking. The day before you're planning on baking, feed your starter twice with 100 g mixed white and whole wheat flour and 100 g lukewarm water. Try to space the feedings out by about 12 hours, so if you feed it the first time at 8 a.m., give it a second feeding at 8 p.m. Let the starter sit overnight covered with a dish towel.
Next, you'll need to prepare the autolyse, which basically means to soak the flours in water. Different recipes call for different quantities of flour or water, so choose one and stick to it. In a large bowl, combine the flour with lukewarm water and let the mixture sit covered for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Once your autolyse has sat for at least 30 minutes and your starter is active, it's time to begin. Following the recipe of your choosing, combine a portion of your starter with the flour and water mixture. You won't use all of your starter.
Use your fingers to pinch and rotate the mixture, thoroughly combine the starter and the rest of the flour. Let the dough sit covered for about 30 minutes.
Then sprinkle 20g kosher salt and 20g lukewarm water over the dough. Use your fingers to work the salt and water evenly into the dough. Pull the dough and stretch it upward as much as you can without tearing it. Continue to moving the bowl around in a clockwise motion as you pull and stretch the dough. Do this for about 10 minutes until the dough feels very smooth.
Cover the dough with a dish towel and let it sit for one hour. At this point, the dough is going to begin its first rise (called bulk fermentation). The entire process can take anywhere from 3-7 hours depending on the temperature of your kitchen.
Mark the height of your dough with some tape because you'll know bulk fermentation is over when it has just about doubled in size.