bread baking

Making Your Own Sourdough

I am in no ways an expert at sourdough! But I have been practicing for about a year now and trying to get better at it and if it’s something you are interested in, you may be interested in this post.

I’ve shared my successes and failures on this blog many times. There have been times when the bread didn’t rise. When it was a weird shape. When it taste great but didn’t look great. When it looked great but didn’t have the right flavor. It was all practice practice practice.

I really like this book and highly recommend it:

How To Make Sourdough: 45 recipes for great-tasting sourdough breads that are good for you, too. by Emmanuel Hadjiandreou

Why I like this book is because it gives step by step instructions WITH PHOTOS. I am a visual person and it helps a lot to see the photos for each step of making the bread–even each step of kneading the bread and rising, etc. Once I started using the sourdough recipe in this book, I got much closer to the right sourdough loaf I was looking for!

The book has a ton of other recipes in there, too. I have tried one of the other recipes in there (the rosemary raisin sourdough) but unfortunately my bread didn’t rise so it didn’t bake properly. It ended up in the trash. Bummer! More practice on that one.

One of the biggest things that helped with making sourdough was weighing the ingredients with a food scale instead of measuring out the ingredients in cup measurements. Weighing the dry ingredients in grams was a game changer.

Also, I suggest using bread flour instead of regular flour. I definitely recommend Bob’s Red Mill! It’s local for us and we have access to their store, which is nice, but you can get it online if you don’t live local. I love their products!

Other than that, the only other thing you need is the proofing basket:

Banneton Proofing Basket – Round

Banneton Proofing Basket – Oval 

A few days before I’m going to make the sourdough, I take some starter out of the fridge and put it on on the counter and “feed” it every day (just a little bit because you don’t need a lot of starter for the recipe).

Then the night before, I make the dough and knead it, then let it rise over night. The next morning, it should double in size. The day I’m going to bake the bread, I knead the loaf again, shape it a bit, and then put it in the floured banneton. This particular time it was slightly deformed on the bottom but no big deal because that will be the bottom of the bread and it will flatten out.

I turn the oven on to 200 degrees then TURN THE OVEN OFF. I cover the banneton/loaf and put it in the oven for 2-6 hours, checking it frequently to see how it’s rising.

Then it’s time to bake! I use a Dutch Oven to bake it. First I put some cornmeal on the bottom of my Dutch Oven. Then I turn the banneton upside down and dump the dough into it. Then I make the slashes on top with a razor blade. I put the the lid on the Dutch Oven and bake it at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes and then check it.

I usually end up baking the bread for a little over 60 minutes.

This particular loaf of sourdough gave me some grief. It didn’t rise as much as it usually does overnight. Not sure why–maybe the dough was too wet? Who even knows. It’s always a mystery as to why sometimes it’s perfect and round and amazing and sometimes it’s a little flatter.

But the bread cooked well and it tasted okay. So that’s always a success.

Dinner was tomato bisque with the sourdough and salad. It was delicious!

QUESTION: Are you a bread baker? Any tips? Favorite bread recipes? Share!

Baker Baker

I need some advice! But first, a cute photo of Logan and me cuddling on the couch early Saturday morning:

Over the long weekend I finally got to try my very first loaf of sourdough bread. I’ve never made bread before (except for Sheepherder’s Bread and I think I killed the yeast and it never rose) but it’s been something that both Michael and I have wanted to try doing for years.

My friend gave me some of her sourdough starter probably a month or so ago. I’ve been feeding it every week and it smelled so good and sour. I was really excited to try this. So Saturday morning after the gym I got started on prepping and making the dough because I knew it would be an all day process.

First off, having the Kitchenaid mixer for making bread is AMAZING. I barely had to do any of the kneading.

Second, even though I fed the starter a lot and gave it extra leading up to the weekend, I still didn’t have quite enough for the recipe. So I had to feed the starter more right before. Maybe that changed things? I don’t honestly know.

I followed the instructions of the recipe I used (recommended by my friend). I had found another recipe, too, that I thought sounded good. I think I will try that recipe next time and see how it goes.

EASY SOURDOUGH ARTISAN BREAD RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour (white whole wheat, whole wheat, unbleached, or a combo)
  • 1-1/4 cups water (may need less if your starter is “wetter”- mine is a 100% hydration starter, fed an equal ratio of flour to water)
  • 3/4 cup active sourdough starter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl) just until combined and then let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Using a dough hook, knead for 5 minutes. If making by hand, knead for 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl, lightly coated with oil. Cover with plastic and let rise for 3 hours, turning and folding the dough once or twice.
  4. Remove dough, turn and fold again, and place it back in the bowl, seam-side up. Let rise for another 2 hours.
  5. After the second rise, place a square of parchment on a cookie sheet and gently shape the dough into a ball or oval (using lots of flour, as the dough is moist) and set on the parchment. Make sure there’s a good coating of flour on the top, as this will make slicing the top later easier.
  6. Set an enameled, cast iron dutch oven into a cold oven and turn heat to 450 degrees (alternately, you can use a baking stone), and set the timer for 40 minutes.
  7. When the timer goes off, slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife (in 2-3 places) and transfer it to the hot pot by holding the edges of the parchment (or stone).
  8. Replace the hot lid and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking for another 13-15 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. Remove to a wire rack to cool at least 30 minutes before cutting.
  10. NOTES
  11. Slicing tip: if you don’t have a good serrated knife, try using an electric knife to easily slice through crusty artisan bread. I works like a charm and even cuts through warm breads without squishing the crusts like regular knives do.

Notes

From: https://anoregoncottage.com/easy-sourdough-artisan-bread/2/

http://www.110pounds.com/?p=54767

Since this was my first loaf ever, I didn’t have high expectations. I knew it would take practice but I was still a little bummed out it didn’t turn out like it should. I think I should have let it rise longer than the 5 hours the recipe called for. Because the dough didn’t really look like it rose all that much from when I started it…

Next time, I won’t use my dutch oven to bake it, either. One of the options of the recipe was to use a baking/pizza stone. We have one that makes GREAT pizza so I will try that next time.

Overall the bread was OK but not great. It was really dense. It weighed a freakin’ ton. It wasn’t the light, airy sourdough I was expecting. I’m not sure what I need to do differently in the future. I read through some messages boards online and none of them were really clear. It could have been too wet, not wet enough, maybe I didn’t let it rise enough, maybe it had too much gluten in it, maybe not enough…HELPFUL.

So I could definitely use some advice from bread baking experts out there! What did I do wrong? How do I make the bread LIGHT and AIRY?

In other news…on Sunday we went out to lunch for Logan’s BFF’s birthday. I had an AMAZING burger on AMAZING bread. 😀

Lunch was at Hopworks. It’s a great place, good food and it’s very kid-friendly, which is nice. We were in a back room for kids so that was good, too.

Seriously, look at that bun! It was SO GOOD. I wish I could make bread like that. My burger had swiss cheese, toasted hazelnuts, caramelized onions, arugula and lemon aioli on it. It was to die for. One of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time.

The above photo was the toys at the restaurant in the kid’s area. (Great idea!) Logan had cheese pizza with apple slices on the side (decent pizza, too).

QUESTION: Master bakers, HELP ME!