If you're just getting started with making sourdough or want an easy, foolproof recipe. Follow on! Everyone started making sourdough in 2020. What else do you do when you're stuck at home 24/7??
I've never been good at baking, but it feels like such a basic skill to have. Since I had the time, it became my mission to figure it out. What's unique about sourdough, is that you make your own yeast (called starter).
After looking at tons of articles, I was left bewildered by complicated recipes and measuring ingredients to the gram (I'm not weighing gold for the national reserve!).
In all truth, I'm not a recipe person, I like to feel my way through cooking... a pinch, a smidge, a dollop, are my kind of measurements. I thought I could feel my way through baking, but I was wrong. So after a lot of trial and error, I developed this recipe which is simple, easy, and can be fudged a bit without hurting anything.
In the morning
Feed your starter. That means discard half of your starter and add 1/4c water and 1/4c flour. During the day it will grow and bubble and by evening be ready to start your loaf.
In the evening
Mix - 5 min
5 min - Mix water, salt, starter into a mixing bowl. Using a fork/your hands add and mix the flour in. The dough will be wet and slightly sticky.
Rise - 3 hr
Once it's well combined, place the dough in a Tupperware or bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Place it on the counter.
After 1 hour, make four (4) folds in the bread. Wetting your fingers helps.
After 1 more hour, fold again.
After 1 more hour, fold again. By this point the dough should have grown to about twice it's size (a little less is fine).
Proof - 8-10hr
After the last fold, cover and let it sit in the fridge overnight.
Shape - 5 min
The next morning, put the dutch oven in the oven, heat your oven to 450, and take the dough out of the fridge. The dough should sit about 20 minutes to warm, usually about how long it takes my oven to get up to temp. Once the oven is at 450, add a pinch of flour on the counter and shape into a loaf.
Bake - 1 hr
Place the loaf in the hot dutch oven, no oil or parchment paper needed. Using your bread knife, score slits in the top of the loaf. Depth of 1/4" is enough. There are lots of fancy designs. I make a cross most often. Bake for 30 minutes. Take the lid off, and bake for another 20 minutes, or a few minutes longer if you want a browner, more chewy crust.
Take out of the over. Let it cool on a rack or the counter for 1hr. Enjoy!
With 10hrs of waiting while you're making this bread, timing is important. More than 20% deviation from the time listed and you may end up with a flat loaf. (We've eaten a few of these, they taste fine.)
Below I put together the schedule based on what works for me, but adjust for your lifestyle.
Pull out the starter in the morning and feed, mix dough when you get home from work, fridge overnight and bake in the morning before leaving for work.
There are a few storage options. A paper bag, a cloth towel, linen bag. Do not use a plastic bag, the bread has high moisture and it will mold in a few days. Once you cut the bread, make sure the cut side is covered, that will keep the end from drying it. It can keep on the counter for 7 days.
Wishing you a delicious smelling house, and many delicious loaves of bread.