Sourdough

Josey Baker

Sourdough

whole/wild/wet/slow/bold

This is it kiddos – whole wheat flour, water, salt, and wild yeast, baked in your home oven, by your hands alone. If this is as far as you get, you have come farther than 99 percent of people. (I just made that up.) If you’re not pumped up by whole wheat, then you can swap out some of it for white flour, I’ll show ya. I believe in you, baker.

Let the magic happen.

What you’ll need:

foodstuff:

  • sourdough starter
  • whole wheat flour
  • bread flour (maybe)
  • sea salt, fine grind
  • water

tools:

  • big mixing bowl (at least 6 in/15 cm tall and 12 in/31 cm wide)
  • small bowl or jar
  • 2 plates or plastic wrap (to cover bowls)
  • loaf pan (about 8” x 4”)
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • thermometer (optional)
  • spatula or bench knife
  • cooling rack (optional)

1. Gather your foodstuff and tools.

2. Make your sourdough pre-ferment. Use starter that is sour smelling in a good way, most likely between 12 and 24 hours since the last time you fed it. Make your pre-ferment 8 to 12 hours before you want to start mixing your dough— likely in the evening before you go to bed or in the morning. You want it to be the consistency of thick pancake batter. Put this stuff in a big bowl:

1 loaf

2 loaves

4 loaves

starter

1 tsp/6 g

2 tsp/12 g

4 tsp/24 g

cool water (60°F)

1/4 cup/60 g

1/2 cup/120 g

1 cup/235g

whole wheat flour

1/3 cup/50 g

2/3 cup/95 g

1 1/3 cups/185 g

Mix it up real good. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap, and put it in a cool place (55° to 65°F/13° to 18°C) for about 12 hours.

3. Mix the dough. Uncover the bowl, and take a big whiff. It should be putting off a pretty strong smell, nice and yummy, maybe a touch sour. If it doesn’t, no biggie; it should still make awesome bread. Add:

1 loaf

2 loaves

4 loaves

lukewarm water (85°F)

1 3/4 cups/415 g

3 1/2 cups/830 g

7 cups/1,660 g

whole wheat flour

3 1/4 cups/455 g

6 1/2 cups/910 g

13 cups/1,820 g

sea salt, fine grind

2 tsp/12 g

4 tsp/24 g

2 Tbsp + 2 tsp/48 g

Stir it up with your strong hands ’til it’s good and mixed together (30 seconds to a minute will do). Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour, whatever is convenient. Go for a walk or read a book or talk to a friend.

+++ If you’re not into whole wheat bread, I think you should start to be. That being said, I am not the boss of you, and you can make non-whole wheat bread by using 1 ¼ cup of water and 3 ¼ cups of bread flour at this point. You’ll need to let the bread sit for longer after needing, probably 3-6 hours, but just know that it’s ready when it’s increased in size by half. +++

4. Knead the dough. After it sits for a while, the dough is ready to be kneaded. Dip your hand in a bowl of water, then reach down into the side of the dough bowl, grab a little bit of it, and pull it up and push it down on top of the dough. Rotate the bowl a little bit and do it again. Be sweet and gentle yet firm with the dough. Do this to all of the dough; it’ll probably take about 10 folds. Cover the dough, and let it sit for 1/2 hour. a. If you feel like adding some stuff to your bread, such as cinnamon and raisins, seeds, cheese, nuts, herbs, now’s the time! Just dream something up and try it out, it’s just bread.

5. Knead a few more times. After 1/2 hour, stretch and fold the dough another 10 times. Cover the dough, and leave it alone for another 1/2 hour or so. Do this another 2 times, at 30-minute intervals.

6. Let the magic happen. Leave the dough alone until it has increased in size by about half. This will probably take 2-4 hours, depending on too many things to list here, such as temperature, amount of activity in your starter, specifics of the flour you’re using, etc etc etc.

7. Shape your loaf. After the dough has completed its bulk rise, flour your counter and dump out the dough. Fold in the left and right side, then roll it into a log and plop it into a greased loaf pan with the smooth side facing upwards. Spray or brush the top of the loaf with oil (so the foil doesn’t stick to it), and then cover the loaf with aluminum foil. Tent the foil so that there’s room for the dough to rise.

8. Let your loaf rise. You get to decide when the loaf is ready for baking, based on its volume – it should be poking up about ½ inch above the top of the pan, but don’t worry too much about this. Regardless, do what’s convenient for you: If you want to bake bread in 3 or 4 hours, let the loaf sit out somewhere in your kitchen. If you want to bake bread anywhere from 6 to 24 hours later, stick the loaf in the fridge (or just outside if it’s cool out—about 45°F/7°C).

9. Bake that baby. If your loaf has been in the fridge, take it out so it can warm to room temperature while the oven preheats. Put one of the racks in your oven to the middle height. Turn on your oven to 475°F/240°C, and let it preheat for at least 20 minutes. Take your loaf, complete with aluminum foil covering, and put it in the oven for 20 minutes. At this point, open up your oven, take off the aluminum foil, and get excited—your dough is turning to bread! Bake for another 20 minutes, and take a look—if the top is a nice dark brown, take it out. If not, leave it in for another 7 or 8 minutes.

10. Let that sucker cool down! For real; you’re just gonna burn your mouth if you eat the bread when it’s too hot. Use a towel or potholders to take the bread out of the pan, and if the bread sticks in the pan, use a spatula or butter knife to gently loosen it. Leave the bread on a cooling rack, or lean it against something so air can flow around it while it cools. It’s best to let it cool for an hour, but I know you . . . Just wait 30 minutes and eat the whole thing.

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