Baking is all about experimenting, and I also think it is incredibly important to enjoy yourself. Although this recipe is not for a traditional sourdough starter using wild yeast, this recipe gave me the confidence to bake my first loaf of sourdough bread. In the age of the internet, it is easy to compare yourself to others. It is also easy to find articles critiquing various baking techniques. I’m certainly going to give naturally leavened bread another shot, but this recipe is a great way to learn the basics of sourdough, without a lot of risk/disappointment.
Sourdough Starter barely adapted from The Heritage of Southern Cooking by Camille Glenn
2 cups of all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur)
2 cups of filtered water
1 package dry instant yeast
Combine flour, warm water and yeast in a bowl. Mix all of your ingredients together throughly, and make sure no lumps of flour remain.
Cover the bowl loosely with a sheet of plastic wrap. Then, set the bowl in a warm room (75-80 degrees Fahrenheit, a closed microwave provides a suitable environment). This mixture needs to sit at room temperature for 2 full days, or until the entire top of the mixture is incredibly bubbly.
After two days at room temperature, set your starter in the fridge for another 24 hours. The mixture will continue to bubble, and will develop a fruity fermented scent. A yellowish liquid, known as hooch, will usually develop on top of the starter. You can mix this in, or spoon it out. I prefer to mix it in. If, at any time, your starter develops a liquid with a green, purple or blue color throw your starter away and start over.
When you’re ready to bake: (I would not wait longer than 3 days without using or feeding your starter.)
Proof the starter
Take the bowl out of the fridge, and add 1 cup of warm water and 1 cup of flour. Mix thoroughly.
Set the bowl in the microwave, barely covered with plastic wrap, for six hours. Your starter should have doubled in size.
Now, your sourdough starter is ready to use. Any starter that is not used in your recipe can be put back in the fridge in a bowl or jar. Before placing it back in the fridge, add 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of warm water. Blend thoroughly. Make sure to feed your starter once a week with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water. Mix thoroughly. In the future, when you’re ready to use your starter, repeat the steps above, starting at proofing your starter.
Sourdough Boule recipe adapted from Sourdough Bread: How To Begin by S. John Ross
2 cups of flour (or more depending on the consistency of your starter)
2 cups of proofed sourdough starter
2 tablespoons of olive oil (entirely optional, but I like the addition)
4 teaspoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of salt
In a large bowl, combine proofed sourdough starter, sugar, salt, and olive oil. Then, add in flour 1/4 of a cup at a time. Do not allow your dough to become dry by adding too much flour. Trust yourself. Combine ingredients thoroughly.
Place the bowl in a warm spot, either the microwave or on top of a warm oven) for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled.
Once the dough has doubled, punch it down. Then, on a lightly floured surface, form a boule with the dough. If you want to cut the dough, now is the time.
Allow the dough to rise in a well-oiled cast iron dutch oven until it has doubled in size once again.
While the boule is rising, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Once your boule has risen completely (roughly 2 hours), place the cast iron pan on a low rack in your oven, covered, for 30 minutes. On the lowest rack of your oven, place a small metal pan with ice cubes, this will help mimic the steam injection ovens that are in commercial bakeries.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid of your pan, and place the pan on a higher rack in the oven, and bake for an additional 10 minutes. The boule should be thoroughly brown.
Allow the boule to cool for 2 hours before slicing to serve.
I hope you give this recipe a shot, and I also hope sourdough purists understand where I am coming from. This bread provides the perfect base for many dishes, especially sandwiches. We used our sourdough to make sandwiches with fried green tomatoes, bacon, country ham, cheddar, Duke’s mayonnaise and basil from the garden. It was a perfect southern, summer meal if I may say so myself.