Sourdough is a God-given marvel. The reason is simple: Sourdough starter can be made at home with nothing but flour, water, and heat. Once it ferments, it replaces the need for yeast, baking powder and baking soda in bread. That same starter can be fed water and flour and live indefinitely, being split and passed down from generation to generation. Starter is hard to kill. Immigrants brought it from the Old World where it survived the long sea voyage and spread throughout the Americas. Mormon pioneers packed it in their wagons to make flap jacks and fry bread as they rumbled across the Rocky Mountains to Utah. I did an experiment and started my own starter 2 weeks ago with just flour and water and placing it by our wood burning stove. Yesterday, it gave me deep satisfaction to bake bread with my first home-grown starter.
250 g active starter
- 735 g water + 50 g of water when you add the salt
1000 g all purpose flour (always use unbleached)
24 g sea salt
Add your active starter to a bowl.
Add 735 grams of water.
Mix starter with the water till it is “milky."
Add the flour.
Mix those ingredients together for 2-3 minutes
Cover the bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Add the salt and remaining 50 grams of water.
Knead the dough for about 3- 5 minutes, until water and salt are fully incorporated.
Cover again and let rest for 30 minutes.
Over the next 1.5-2 hours, perform 3-4 sets of “stretch and folds”, covering and letting the dough rest after each series.
Cover the dough and let it rest at room temperature until doubled in size. OR place it in the fridge for 8-10 hours for a slower fermentation. I prefer this method. Often I start my bread at night and have it ferment in the fridge overnight.
Dump the dough onto a clean counter and divide the dough in half.
Spread the dough out a bit into a square shape, fold over the sides first, then roll it up. (the dough will be a little sticky, you can add flour if that helps!)
Once rolled up, push it away from you, and then pull towards you to build tension in the dough. Do that 3-4 times until your loaf is round and bouncy. Step 15: Repeat with the second loaf.
After your first shape, leave the loaves on the counter (uncovered) for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, shape the loafs one more time, repeating step 14. (You will notice the dough is not as sticky the second time)
Gently, with a bench scraper, flip over and place the dough into the floured proofing baskets and cover with plastic. (I love to use shower caps.)
Place both baskets in the fridge for about 1-2 hours.
Flip the dough out of the proofing baskets onto a sheet of parchment paper.
Score your bread. Using the parchment paper to lift the dough, place it into a preheated cast iron pot. Then immediately into the oven.
Cover and bake for 25 -35 minutes at 450℉ / 232℃.
After 25 minutes, remove the lid and put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes or until a deep golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack before slicing into it. Enjoy!