After being inspired by the documentary series "Cooked" by Michael Pollan, I decided it was a good time to try baking my own sourdough bread and enjoy delicious home cooked bread from scratch. I did not feel up to the challenge to make my own starter so I began to search for some ready-made sourdough starter. As it happened, when visiting friends in Northern BC recently I was given some sourdough starter, which had been growing for 2 years. Following is our introduction to this healthy addition to our lifestyle.
I do like a little bit of butter to my bread.
~A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young
What's so special about Sourdough Bread:
- It is easier to digest because of the bacteria, Lactobacillus and wild yeast in the starter
- Another acid, Acetic, is produced in the making of the sourdough which naturally preserves the bread
- Sourdough has a lot of beneficial vitamins and minerals
- This recipe has only 3 ingredients
- No chemicals including additives and preservatives and no sugar or fat
- Inexpensive to make
- This is simply far superior to any commercially baked bread
Although this would be a first time experience to make my own sourdough bread from scratch, I have used a bread maker for many years. My biggest concern was that I did not have a bread recipe so after searching on-line and discarding recipe instructions which were 3 pages long, decided to make my own. Perhaps it was "beginner's luck" the sourdough turned out deliciously and was much simpler than I had thought. We all love eating fresh home baked bread. No sugar, no chemicals, no additives, plain and simple, wholesome, satisfying and tasty! Here is how the making and baking of a very basic Sourdough Bread went:
The Sourdough Starter
- 100 grams of filtered water, and
- 100 ml of unbleached white flour
- Mix well and leave on the kitchen counter to grow for a few hours
- When bubbles appear in the start that's the sign its active - place in a sealed mason jar with lid
- Keep the starter in the fridge. Refresh starter when baking or within a week
- Important: Remember not to use all your starter to make dough but save at least a cup to be kept in the fridge
How To Bake Sourdough Bread
- Take the starter out of the refrigerator the night before you wish to make bread, and add 100 ml flour and 100 gram of water and mix well with a fork
- Cover the starter with a light clean cloth and leave on a counter overnight to become active and grow
- Next day add the following:
Sourdough Bread Ingredients:
- 1 ½ - 2 cups of Sourdough Starter
- 3 cups of unbleached white flour
- 1 - 1 ½ cups filtered water
- Table Salt - a little less than One Tablespoon
Continue to make bread dough:
1. Mix the sourdough starter, flour, water. Dissolve the salt in the water before adding
2. Knead dough for 5 - 10 minutes before trying the "stretch test" /membrane test / windowpane test.
- Simply take a portion of dough - about 4 tablespoons - and work it by stretching like making a pizza dough.
- The Windowpane Test is the best way to know if the bread dough has been kneaded enough. If it breaks or pulls apart, add back to the dough and knead another 4 - 5 minutes and try again.
3. When finished place the dough on the board and shape into a round loaf or divide to make two smaller loaves
4. I place the dough into the pan or tray it will be baked on and leave to rise (or proof) for 4 to 12 hours (overnight)
5. Score / cut the top of the loaf to allow expansion
6. Cover the dough with a light clean cotton cloth during this time
7. The dough usually doubles in the shorter period especially when using an active starter
Baking the Dough:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F before placing bread in oven
- Bake for 30 to 60 minutes depending on size of bread
- My first loaf which was thinner, baked in 30 minutes
- The second loaf which was much thicker / larger baked in 40 minutes. If you can smell the baking bread that is a good indicator it may be finished
That's it! I was pleased that even though I had improvised the recipe it was successful, simple and delicious. Over time with experience it is a skill that can only improve each time you bake. Again, another truly wholesome treat for your family. So far the loaves baked have been an instant hit; fragrant and tasty, steaming hot with a little melted butter and strawberry jam. Try it and you might be converted as I am! It's tastier than anything you will buy in a store. The story continues ...
Thanks for the starter Monica!
- I was told to always use white flour for the starter I was given
- It is important to feed your starter routinely
- In my first attempt to bake bread, unbleached white flour was used. Will try rye and whole wheat flour in future
- The bread was baked on a pizza stone where dough was left to rise
- Recommend using filtered water as most city water has chemicals such as fluoride, disinfectants and heavy metals
- I forgot to cut the top of the bread with one loaf and it was still fine