SOURDOUGH BASICS – Collette’s Kitchen & Blue Ridge Farms
WHAT IS SOURDOUGH?
Though our daughter is celiac and cannot enjoy this traditional sourdough recipe, the rest of our family sure does.
Sourdough really is a misnomer, as it refers to the “mother” or “starter” used to ferment the dough. It is a symbiotic culture of bacteria (lactobacilli) and airborne fungus (wild yeast), where each element within this relationship provides something the other element requires.
The signature tartness of sourdough bread comes from the same bacteria that gives yogurt and sour cream their pucker too. It’s found naturally in wheat flour, and along with yeast, it comes to life with water.
SOURDOUGH STARTER & MAINTENANCE
- Purchase sourdough starter (50 g) from Blue Ridge Farms.
- Thaw starter until it is nice and bubbly before feeding.
- Start with a good strong flour – whole wheat, white, or rye.
- Choose quality water that is non-chlorinated – ex. reverse osmosis.
- Your container should be glass, but food-grade plastic works well too.
- Feeding your starter – equal parts water, flour & starter will keep your starter ready to bake. Learn more below!
FEEDING YOUR STARTER
Once your starter is thawed and looking nice and bubbly, begin feeding the starter every 12 hours. Begin with:
- 50 g – water
- 50 g – flour
NOTE: Make sure to keep your starter in a warm place, preferably 25* C.
NOTE: You’ve likely heard the term discard if you’ve discovered a passion for sourdough. After your feeding your starter for the first time, it will now weigh 100 g. To maintain a starter at this weight, you will have to discard the extra starter each time you feed it (every 12 hours). There are lots of options for discard (pancakes, give it to a friend, or feed it to the chickens).
NOTE: Now that your have a mature starter, the maintenance formula you will now use will be 100 g starter, 100 g water, and 100 g of flour.
NEED A BREAK FROM FEEDING?
You can store the starter in the fridge when daily feedings are inconvenient, but maintaining it at room temperature with daily feedings for a least a little while is a great way to become familiar with various stages of your starter’s cycle.
When you pop your starter in the fridge, you will still need to feed it, but only once a week. It is also appropriate to keep your starter in the fridge if your kitchen is very warm – ex. > 29* C.
In a hot summer kitchen, your starter will ferment like crazy and can become over ripe… making a huge mess on your counter!
MAKING BREAD: PART 1 – MAKING A LEVAIN
To make 2 large loaves, you will need to make a Levain first:
- 227 g – water
- 45 g – mature starter
- 227 g – flour
Combine, water, starter and flour, mix well. Cover and allow to ferment for 8 hours at (23.8* C). For your final dough:
- 400 g – water
- 454 g – levain (what you fermented for 8 hours above)
- 457 g – flour (all-purpose or bread flour)
- 228 g – whole wheat flour (if you want an all-white loaf, replace this with more AP flour)
- 17 g – salt
Mix by hand is the preference, or you can also use a mixer. Then follow part 2.
MAKING BREAD: PART 2 – PRIMARY FERMENTATION
- Place mixed dough in a covered container to ferment for 2.5 hours, folding twice every 50 mins.
- After the 2.5 hours is up, “pre-shape” 45 mins. after the last fold, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 pieces. Pre-shape, rest, and cover for 15-20 mins.
- Shape into boules or batards and place “seam” up into a well-floured proofing basket and allow to proof for ~2 hours.
MAKING BREAD: PART 3 – SCORING & BAKING
- Pre-heat oven to 475* F (246* C)
- Just before baking, invert the baskets and turn the loaves onto a piece of parchment. Score the bread with a sharp knife.
- Pick up the bread using the parchment and place it in a Dutch Oven.
- Bake for 20 mins. with the lid on. Then lower to 450* F for 10 mins. Take the lid off and bake for another 20 mins. until done.
The bottom of the bread should sound hollow. Let cool until warm and enjoy with melted butter. Please share your bread-making experience with us online, we would love to hear from you!