For consistent results, it’s best to use weight measures when making sourdough bread.
- 300g of prepared starter (levain)* (see notes)
- 625 g of lukewarm water
- 1 kg all purpose or bread flour
- 15 g salt
- 14 g canola oil divided
- Mix all ingredients except oil in a large bowl. Let rest for 10 minutes to allow flour to really absorb the water.
- Knead into a soft, pliable dough. It will feel very sticky at first, but as you knead it will stiffen up. Add as little flour as possible, only enough to work past the stickiness. The final dough will be tacky and soft.
- Coat dough and bowl in 1/4 Tbsp oil.
- Cover and rest dough for 4 hours. This is called proofing or the first rise.
- At every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours of proofing (total of 4 times) stretch the dough. Slide hand down side of bowl, grab dough from bottom, stretch it up and fold over the top. Repeat this in the four directions of the compass. Flip the dough so the folds are facing down. Cover and continue to let rest.
- An hour before baking, separate dough into halves.
- Coat baking sheet, cast iron pot or high heat dish with lid in oil.
- Shape dough by pulling and stretching into log or round shape as desired. Pull extra dough to bottom to tighten and smooth out the top. Place on pan, pot or in baking dish.
- Cover and let rise for 1 hour. After the first 30 minutes, preheat oven to 450°F.
- Just before putting bread in oven, use a very sharp knife to score the top. This lets steam escape and prevents bread from bursting open at odd places.
- Bake on high heat (450°F) for 20 minutes. If using a cast iron pot or baking dish keep lid on for this portion.
- At 20 minutes, reduce heat to 400°F and remove lid. Bake for additional 20-25 minutes.
- To check for doneness…
- look for a nice golden brown color (if it is getting too dark, cover loosely with tin foil)
- tap bottom of loaf and listen for hollow sound
- insert instant read thermometer, sourdough should be at 97°C or 208°F
- Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing. It is very difficult to cut bread fresh from the oven.
- Once it has completely cooled, store in plastic bag.
- Freeze extras in tightly sealed bag. To use, simply thaw overnight.
Whole Wheat Version: Experiment replacing some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. I recommend 750g all purpose flour and 250g whole wheat flour to start.
Preparing the Starter (Levain)
Let your base starter come to room temperature and measure out the amount needed to for baking. Feed and return the remainder of your starter to your storage spot.
In a large glass dish with a cover mix
100g (3.5 oz) starter
100g (3.5 oz) water
100g (3.5 oz) all purpose flour
Loosely cover and let rest at room temperature for 8-10 hours (overnight, the day before baking works great). This mix (levain) should double or more in size, so use a container that can easily hold at least twice the amount. This amount will make 2 big loaves for the recipe above.
For detailed instructions on how to feed and keep your starter visit: A Beginners Guide to Sourdough Bread by Professional Home Economist Getty Stewart.
Getty Stewart is a Professional Home Economist, speaker, frequent media guest and writer dedicated to putting good food on tables and agendas. She is the author of several recipe books on enjoying and preserving fruit, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener. Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this.