Sourdough bread

this is a 71% hydration loaf. you can scale up and down the recipe to whatever quantity you want, which is really useful if you want to make multiple loafs at once to save effort. Hydration is the ratio of wet to dry ingredients (100% = equal). There are calculators online ( to help work out how much water to add to get a particular hydration. The higher the hydration the softer the bread is and the less it holds it's shape. 65% is ok, 70% is pretty good and takes a bit of practice to work with, 80% is hard to work with but really nice. As you get more experience go higher. I feed my sourdough starter equal weight flour and water so it's at 100% hydration. The recipe is 1-2-3 with 2% salt: 1 part starter, 2 parts water, 3 parts flour, 2% of the flour weight - really easy to calculate in your head - just start with your end weight divided by 6
  1. if you have a breadmaker, add the ingredients and put it through a dough cycle and skip to the molding step
  2. add sourdough starter high grade flour, salt and water to a large bowl. gently mix together to combine (I use a plastic dough scraper). tip out onto a bench and use your favourite kneading technique until the dough is smooth and tacky
  3. place back in bowl, cover so it doesn't dry out and let rest for around an hour. this is called "autolyse" and allows the gluten to develop without you putting in any effort.
  4. mold the loaf - put some flour on the bench, scrap the dough out of the bowl carefully so you don't rip the gluten structure, drag all corners into centre, flip over onto a non-floured bit, flour your hands and drag and twist under to keep it round and stretch the skin - do this couple of times - you want the top to be nice and taut. you can also look on youtube for other molding techniques as it depends on the shape of your proofing bowl
  5. proof the loaf - dust with flour and put in loaf tin, or use a bowl with a tea-towel covered in flour. cover so it doesn't dry out and sit on bench overnight (assuming you are doing this in the evening)
  6. preheat oven and pizza stone to 230C you just need to get as much heat into the bread as quickly as possible to get the best spring (rise), if you are using a loaf tin, just heat the oven
  7. tease the loaf out onto the pizza stone (unless you are using a loaf tin) and score the loaf appropriately with a very sharp knife (you don't want to tear the loaf, you need to give it room to expand without deforming the loaf, cut it on an angle like filleting a fish). You should see it instantly start to expand as you score it - you can look online for various scoring patterns and their history.
  8. spray the oven with water a bunch times - this makes the crust golden, keeps it soft while expanding, and allows greater heat transfer into the loaf - you want to get as much heat into the loaf in the first 10 minutes to get the most spring. In the first 10 minutes the yeast is vigorously releasing CO2 as it heats up. After 10 minutes the yeast is dead so no more CO2 is released, and no more spring can happen
  9. bake for around 25 minutes, you can see when the crust starts to go deep brown. people say to tap the bottom to hear it sound hollow, but I've never had any problems just judging based on colour. Technically if it's not cooked through it may sound a bit muffled and you can lower the oven temp and put it back in
  10. you are supposed to allow to cool completely to finish cooking, but we don't often have the patience and it's DELICIOUS warm
  11. if you can wait for it to go cold, cut it, bag it, freeze it, then you can use it for toast straight from frozen.
  • Verne 09 Jan, 2015

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