Macheesmo

Cooking with Confidence
Not bad for my first try!
Breads, Economical

Sourdough Loaf

by Nick

It shouldn’t be surprising that the first thing I wanted to make with my sourdough starter was an awesome sourdough loaf! As is sometimes the case I think with new starters, my loaf wasn’t really very sour. It had a bit of tang to it, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

That’s okay though. Sourdough is one of those things that takes time. It takes time to develop the right flavors in your starter and I’m fairly sure that mine will only get more flavorful from here on out.

It also takes time to make each loaf, but I really enjoyed the process and the loaf was pretty good considering it was my first one.

I’m again following Peter Reinhart’s instruction here and he breaks down the bread making process into 12 steps. I think this makes it pretty easy to follow, so I’m going to use his structure.

Yield
1 loaf
Prep Time
Total Time
Print Recipe

Sourdough Loaf

Sourdough Loaf

Ingredients

  • Firm Sour Dough Loaf Starter (From The Bread Baker's Apprentice)
  • 2/3 Cup (4 ounces) barm at room temp
  • 1 Cup (4.5 ounces) bread flour
  • 1/8 to 1/4 Cup (1 to 2 ounces) water
  • Final Sourdough Loaf
  • Firm starter from above
  • 4.5 Cups (20.25 ounces) bread flour or a combination of bread and whole wheat flour
  • 2 Teaspoons salt
  • 1.5 to 1.75 Cups (12 to 14 ounces) water, lukewarm
  • Cornmeal for dusting

Helpful Equipment

Directions

1) Bring barm to room temperature before you can start this dough. Measure out the 2/3 Cups and let it sit for about an hour to warm.

2) Add flour to barm and then add just enough water to pull the dough together (about 1/4 Cup of water)

3) You don’t really need to knead this dough, although do work it with your hands for a minute or so just to make sure the flour is all hydrated and everything is mixed together.

4) Lightly oil a small bowl (I like using spray oil just to get a light mist), turn the dough ball to cover every side and then cover it with plastic wrap.

5) Ferment this starter at room temperature for about 4 hours or until it doubles in size. Stick this in the fridge overnight.

6) After an overnight chill out in the fridge, take firm starter out, cut it into a few pieces (like a dozen) and let those pieces sit for an hour or so to come to room temperature. Spray them with oil lightly so they don’t dry out.

7) Mix flour and salt together and then add firm starter chunks.

8) If you’re using a mixer, mix this with the paddle attachment on low speed until the dough comes together. If you’re doing it by hand, nothing beats a good old wooden spoon.

9) Sprinkle your counter or any clean surface with flour and start kneading the dough! You’ll need to knead this guy for 12 to 15 minutes. You could also mix it for four minutes in a mixer on medium-low speed, let it rest for 5 minutes, and then mix for another 4 minutes. Mix it until the dough passes the infamous windowpane test.

10) Make a ball out of this dough and add it to an oiled bowl.

11) Ferment this ball for 3 or 4 hours or until the dough has doubled.

12) After the dough has doubled, remove it and shape it as you want it. Basically just fold the dough under itself to form surface tension.

13) Proofed the loaf on a pizza peel with a dusting of cornmeal for another 2 or 3 hours. Again, be sure spritz the loaf with oil and cover it loosely with a towel

14) Put the pizza stone in the oven if you are using one and preheat it to 500 degrees. Also, put an empty metal pan a few minutes before the bread is going in to heat up.

15) Score the dough by slicing some slits using a straight razor or serrated blade.

16) Slide this right onto the stone or bake it on a sheet pan.

17) Add 1 Cup hot water to the steam pan and also spritz the interior walls with water to create additional steam. Just do the spritzing a few times once the dough is in the oven.

18) Bake 35 to 45 minutes.

19) Transfer the loaf after baking to a wire rack to cool. Let it cool for at least an hour before eating!


You start this dough by making an overnight firm starter which gets the flavors going. Then you use that to make the final loaf. Let’s do it!

Step 1. You have to bring your barm to room temperature before you can start this dough so take it out of the fridge. Measure out your 2/3 Cups and let it warm up slowly. I let mine sit for about an hour.

The wet part

The wet part

Step 2. Add your flour to your barm and then add just enough water to pull the dough together. For me this was a scant 1/4 Cup of water. It should be a really firm dough.

You don’t really need to knead this dough, although do work it with your hands for a minute or so just to make sure the flour is all hydrated and everything is mixed together.

Lightly oil a small bowl (I like using spray oil just to get a light mist), turn the dough ball to cover every side and then cover it with plastic wrap.

Very firm.

Very firm.

Step 3. Ferment this starter at room temperature for about 4 hours or until it doubles in size. I let mine sit for 4 hours and that was about right. Then stick this in the fridge overnight.

Note: You’ll note that the fermentation times for this loaf are a lot longer than if you were to make a loaf using normal yeast. I think that’s because the sourdough starter just takes longer to do it’s thing. But I also think that that is very dependent on your starter. Some may work faster than others. Mine was pretty slow moving…

Step 4. After an overnight chill out in the fridge, take your firm starter out, cut it into a few pieces (like a dozen) and let those pieces sit for an hour or so to come to room temperature. Spray them with oil lightly so they don’t dry out.

Step 5. Mix your flour and salt together and then add your firm starter chunks.

Mixed together.

Mixed together.

If you’re using a mixer, mix this with the paddle attachment on low speed until the dough comes together. If you’re doing it by hand, nothing beats a good old wooden spoon.

Ready to get a workout?

Ready to get a workout?

Step 6. Sprinkle your counter or any clean surface with flour and start kneading your dough! You’ll need to knead this guy for 12 to 15 minutes. It’s kind of a work out. You could also mix it for four minutes in a mixer on medium-low speed, let it rest for 5 minutes, and then mix for another 4 minutes.

I like to do it by hand. Mix it until your dough passes the infamous windowpane test. I actually kneaded for a few minutes after this photo to smooth it out even more. This is an okay windowpane though.

Pretty decent windowpane.

Pretty decent windowpane.

Make a ball out of this dough and add it to a oiled bowl. It should be a really smooth ball.

This should rise nicely.

This should rise nicely.

Step 7. Ferment this ball for 3 or 4 hours or until the dough has doubled. You may be able to guess, but my dough took about 4 hours to get to this point:

A good doubling.

A good doubling.

Step 8. After your dough has doubled, remove it and shape it as you want it. Peter recommends cutting it in half before forming boules. I actually left mine as one big boule instead of two. To form the boule like I did, basically you just fold the dough under itself to form surface tension. These photos do a decent job of showing the process of forming the loaf.

Step 9. I proofed my loaf on a pizza peel with a dusting of cornmeal. You’ll need to let this proof for another 2 or 3 hours. Again, be sure spritz the loaf with oil and cover it loosely with a towel. This will help it from drying out.

Ready for more rising fun.

Ready for more rising fun.

Step 10. Prep your oven for baking about 30 minutes from when your dough is done rising. Put your pizza stone in if you are using one and preheat it to 500 degrees. Also, put an empty metal pan a few minutes before the bread is going in to heat up. We’ll add water to this later to create steam. Be sure not to use a non-stick pan or glass. Just an old school metal loaf pan or sheet pan will work.

Step 11. Score the dough by slicing some slits using a straight razor or serrated blade. I don’t think I made my cuts quite large enough.

Some basic cuts. Should have done more.

Some basic cuts. Should have done more.

Slide this right onto your stone or you can bake it on a sheet pan. Add 1 cup hot water to your steam pan and also spritz the interior walls with water to create additional steam. Just do the spritzing a few times once the dough is in the oven, you don’t want to let too much heat escape.

This will need to bake somewhere between 35 and 45 minutes. I pulled mine after 40 minutes and it probably could have used another 5 minutes.

Step 12. Transfer the loaf after baking to a wire rack to cool. Let it cool for at least an hour before eating!

Different angle.

Different angle.

So let’s recap. For one loaf of bread, I made a starter and barm which should have taken about 6 days, but took me 7 days. Then it took two days to make this loaf including about 12 hours of fermenting and proofing the final dough.

In short, it’s a process! The final product was good. Was it great? No. In fact, Betsy still prefers the no knead bread I think. But you have to start somewhere and I have no doubt that it’ll only get better from here.

Check back over the weekend to see more stuff I made with the sourdough starter!