Sourdough Bread

The Perfect Sourdough

I started seeing a lot of people get into bread baking during the pandemic. Which was kinda cool. I definitely think it’s a fun hobby to have. It’s sometimes a hard hobby because it’s time consuming, sometimes a loaf of bread takes several days and you never know if it’s going to turn out…and then you’ve just wasted two days on a loaf of bread. (Which happened to me recently.)

This is the book I use:

I’ve posted it before. I love the book because it’s simple, easy to follow, beautiful and has step-by-step photo instructions for making bread. It’s perfect for beginners. And then there’s a bunch of other recipes in there, some more advanced. I highly recommend this book!

I’ve tried a bunch of different recipes I’ve looked for online. I don’t like most of them. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw the loaf I threw in the garbage recently! It’s always a bummer to spend that much time and effort and have the bread not turn out.

So I usually go back to the tried and true recipe from this book. Here is the measurements for the recipe (from the book):

600 grams bread flour

12 grams salt

30 grams sourdough starter

360 grams warm water (I used bottled water)

This week I made the PERFECT LOAF. Like seriously, one of the best I’ve ever made. And I wanted to share because I kind of experimented based on the above measurements.

This time I used 600 grams of flour BUT I used 25% whole wheat and the rest was white bread flour. That ratio turned out really great!

Plus, I added chopped kalamata olives and rosemary from my garden. Not a lot of either.

I got a good rise overnight (dough doubled–which is good, sometimes the house is too cold and we don’t get a great rise).

I followed the book’s instructions (preheat oven to 500 degrees, then turn it down to 425). I baked the loaf in my dutch oven for 35 minutes with the LID ON, then 25 minutes with the lid OFF and that seemed liked the perfect balance. (The book instructions are 30-40 minutes with the lid on and 10 or so with it off.)

I let it cool for a few hours. Then I had a slice. It was PERFECT:

Perfect bake, no gummy parts, no overcooked parts, air pockets, chewy, good crust without being too hard, the flavor was PERFECTLY sour with the delectable salty kalamata flavor and then once in awhile I’d get a bite of rosemary flavor. I think in the future I’d try the kalamata olives with maybe garlic cloves instead of rosemary but overall it was very, very good! I am super happy with how it turned out and I think I have my new recipe down!

Let me know if you are doing sourdough and how it’s going! πŸ™‚

Sourdough

Who knew sourdough bread was so hard??? I’ve tried it about half a dozen times or more since the first time I tried it. The first time I tried it, it was flat. The second time the dough didn’t rise for some reason. One time it didn’t look very good but it had the right sour flavor. Then another time it looked great and had the right flavor but it was a little underdone.Β I’ve baked it in my dutch oven and on our baking stone, with varied results.

I keep trying and reading and trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. Recently I did another loaf and tried a different baking method. This is the method I used this time:

The result was pretty good. The rise was nice, there was a great color, the crust was crunchy, it was baked well (maybe slightly overdone) but not sour. UGH! So frustrating. But it did LOOK pretty:

I talked to a friend who does sourdough on the regular and she said that she puts the starter on her counter the day before and feeds it twice, once the morning before she makes it, then again that night. She said that will make it more sour. So next time, I’m going to try doing it that way and see what happens.

This week I tried again and did a few things differently. First, I weighed the flour when I made the dough and used grams instead of measuring cups. Second, I took my friend’s advice and took the starter out the day before, fed it twice and then made the dough the next morning. Third, I followed the new baking instructions.

The result was great! The bread was a little on the light side color-wise but the inside was fantastic! It was the best loaf I’ve made so far. It didn’t have a super strong sour flavor but the bread was light and airy and fluffy instead of being dense. I was really, really happy with the results.

For dinner, I made tomato bisque and we had the freshly baked bread with it. Fantastic!

On a similar note, I’ve been obsessed with the Great British Baking Show on Netflix. It never appealed to me but for some reason I saw a random episode of the new season and I decided to start at the beginning. I loved it! That first season was great and had some really good bakers.

I also love that you learn a lot from the show. They make stuff I’ve never heard of before and it’s interesting to see the methods. I also like that they do a bread episode each season! Listening to the judges critique the breads has been helpful for me recognizing some of the mistakes I’ve been making (not letting it proof long enough, not kneading it enough, etc). Also, it’s nice to watch the show while I wait for Top Chef to come back!

QUESTION: Are you a sourdough baker? Any tips or favorite recipes?