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Homemade Sourdough Bread From a Starter

slices of homemade sourdough bread on a round wooden cutting board with a bowl of olive oil.

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If you’ve always wanted to try making homemade sourdough bread with a starter, now’s the time. In this beginner’s guide, I’ll show you how to make (relatively) easy basic sourdough bread – no yeast required – that will give you a beautiful, delicious loaf of freshly baked, crusty sourdough bread with big, beautiful holes.

Scale

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Mix the dough. In a large bowl, mix together starter and water with a fork. Stir in flours and salt to to form a shaggy dough. Cover with a clean towel  (or cloth bowl cover) and let rest 30 minutes.
  2. Gently knead the dough into a smooth ball by doing a series of ‘stretch and folds’ – stretch one edge of the dough and fold it into the center. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and repeat until you have come full circle. This is one set. Continue for about 15 seconds.
  3. Bulk rise. Cover the bowl and let it rise at room temperature for 8-10 hours, or until puffy and doubled in volume. (Optional – do up to 4 more sets of ‘stretch and fold’ every 30 minutes in the beginning of the bulk rise.)
  4. Shape the dough into a round. Gently turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Use floured fingers to dimple the dough. Then shape into a round by pulling the edges toward the center (similar to the stretch and fold technique) to make a smooth ball. Turn the dough over so the seam side is down, cup the dough with your hands, and gently pull it toward yourself to tighten the shape. Use a bench scraper (or your hands) to transfer to a proofing basket dusted with flour, seam side up. You can also use a clean bowl or colander lined with a clean towel that has been dusted with flour.
  5. Let the dough rise 60 minutes in the refrigerator. You can extend this rise time up to 6 hours if needed.
  6. Heat the oven to 450°F. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of your Dutch oven. Gently invert the dough onto the parchment. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to score the dough about 1/4″ deep. Place dough in the Dutch oven. Place the lid on.
  7. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and bake an additional 40 minutes. You may place the bread directly on oven rack for the last 10 minutes for a more crispy crust, or just leave it in the Dutch oven.
  8. Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool on a cooling rack for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Notes

  • After you use the starter, feed it again with equal weights flour and water, and store in the refrigerator, or on the counter if you will bake again in the next day or two.
  • Rise times may vary based on your room’s temperature. The cultures in sourdough like warm temperatures, so place the dough at room temperature or slightly above (roughly 70-75°F) to rise.
  • Volume measurements are a rough estimate. I recommend using a kitchen scale and using weights. If you are using measuring cups, make sure to spoon the flour into the cups then level off with a knife to get the best measurement.
  • You can use bread flour for all of the flour in this recipe, or use up to 150 g whole wheat or all purpose flour. Using all bread flour will give you a bit heavier bread.
  • This dough is a little higher hydration (more water), which gives it the nice holes, though it is a little more sticky to work with. Flour your hands well when working with the dough.
  • Sourdough bread is best eaten the day it is made. However, I know we can never eat that much bread in a day in our family! I suggest storing it in a bread bag (like this one) on the counter for up to 2 days, or in a zipper bag in the refrigerator or freezer beyond that.

Keywords: homemade sourdough bread, basic sourdough bread, sourdough bread from starter

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