Step-by-step guide to baking your first loaf for beginners.
An easy, no knead, beginner friendly recipe that makes perfect sourdough bread at home. No special skills or high cost tools needed. Enjoy that delicious golden crust!
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One of the best things that happened to me is definitely when I first started my own sourdough starter. Time is flying… Who would have ever thought that sourdough became one of the trends in 2020 leaving behind yeasted bread and turned hundreds of thousands of people to grow their own wild yeast in their kitchens? Never in the world! Being a bread baker for nearly a decade I also never thought that I would turn to sourdough and it will become my biggest passion and obsession. I must admit baking sourdough bread from scratch is the most mysterious and fascinating thing to do.
Did you know that sourdough is the oldest form of leavened bread and the easiest to digest?
The naturally occurring acids and long fermentation help to break down the gluten, making it more digestible and easy for the body to absorb. Sourdough is rich in a good bacteria. During fermentation the bacteria ferment starches that the yeast cannot metabolize, by the time the loaf is fermented and baked the wheat is easier to digest. And it tastes so good!
Sourdough bread has a relatively low glycemic index compared to traditional bread. The acidity of sourdough bread has a major effect on the absorption of some dietary minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and zinc. It gives us more nutrients. And the best part – you can make it yourself.
Before we get started I would like to let you know that this is the easiest technique I use. It does not require kneading or extra tools like a stand mixer or bread machine. Yet, I have already made a few loaves in my bread machine as well as ones using my KitchenAid stand mixer. I am planning to share my results with you pretty soon.
In this recipe, I will not be talking about my 21-day sourdough starter creation journey. I know, that’s a long story. This little adventure is worth the whole blog post to break down the steps and make it easier to follow. But let me tell you - this homemade sourdough starter worth making it. It is so strong and healthy - you could literally forget it in your fridge for months without feeding and it will be doing an amazing job raising your bread!
Before we begin you will need your sourdough starter bubbling and doubled in size. If you are still unsure if your starter is ready, give it a ‘Float Test’. Normally I put 1 tbsp of starter in a glass of water and if it floats - it’s ready to use. If I see it is sinking I give it one more feed and usually, it is enough to start your dough.
INGREDIENTS for 74% hydration bread:
- 90 grams / 3.2 ounces- Sourdough Starter
- 380 grams / 13.4 ounces - Warm Water
- 500 grams / 17.6 ounces - Bread Flour
- 15 g / ½ ounces - Cold Water added along with salt
- 1 tablespoon - Salt
- 1 tablespoon - Olive Oil or any vegetable oil (optional)
- Rice Flour or Starch for dusting your banneton
TOOLS YOU NEED:
You can always find the tools you need for bread making here.
- Kitchen Scale
- Large mixing bowl
- Danish Dough Whisk
- Bread Lame
- Banneton Basket
- Dutch Oven
Combine water and flour in a large bowl. Mix until no dry flour remains. Do not knead. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let it rest or ‘autolyse' from about 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your kitchen temperature.
Here the process of gluten development begins where simple sugars start to form as starch breaks down. Although, it may look like nothing happens, you will notice the difference as soon as you start working with the dough. During the autolyze it becomes smoother and elastic. It’s truly magical!
- 1 hour later. Adding a starter.
The autolyse stage has finished - add a sourdough starter. Mix the dough with your starter for 3-5 minutes. Cover and let it rest for another 30 minutes.
- 30 minutes later. Adding salt, olive oil or any vegetable oil, and extra water.
Mix in salt and water into your dough for 2-3 minutes, until well dissolved. The dough should finally come up together but, still be a bit sticky on the bottom. Let it rest for another 30 minutes at 75-78F.
It is important to know that adding the salt after autolyse affects gluten development. It tightens the gluten and dough becomes harder to stretch during a warm fermentation period.
- 30 minutes later. Perform the first stretch and fold. Cover and let it rest for 45 minutes.
- 45 minutes later. Perform the second stretch and fold. Cover and let it rest for another 45 minutes.
- 45 minutes later. Perform the third stretch and fold. It will help your dough with gluten development and silky, smooth consistency.
Depending on your kitchen temperature the dough can rise a bit quicker or slower. If that is the case, you can shorten or give it more time between the sessions.
Before we start shaping our dough, give it a final 30 minutes to proof under a similar temperature. Now, you should notice your dough becomes lighter and bubbly. Once you see around 50% rise - it is time to start shaping your loaves. Sometimes, under cooler temperatures, your dough can reach a lower rise - about 30% - 40%, it is completely normal. In that case, you can extend the final proofing time before you see the desired volume.
Shaping your loaves
I love this stage - this is the most exciting part for me as I see that all my efforts are paying off. The dough is smooth, bubbling, and can’t wait to become the ‘next’ perfect loaf.
Transfer the dough to a dusted work surface. Form the loaf so the dusted side of the dough remains outside, this will form the crust. Let it rest uncovered for about 30 minutes. Then, using a dough scraper, flip it over again and perform folds pulling the corners of the dough from left to right and vice versa. Finally, roll the dough, shaping a smooth boule.
Lightly dust your banneton basket with rice flour or cornstarch. Transfer your boule into a dusted banneton basket, leaving seams side up.
Cover your banneton containing the dough or if the size of your basket allows, put it into a large plastic bag and place it in a fridge. I always leave it overnight and bake my bread early in the morning, giving it full 2 hours to cool down before lunch. Depending on your schedule and personal preference, cold fermentation could take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.
The final stage - baking
Preheat your oven to 500F for at least 15 minutes to reach the desired temperature level. If you are going to bake in a dutch oven place it inside with the lid during this time.
What if you don’t have a dutch oven? To create a good amount of steam you can use any ovenproof bowl. Place it in your oven before baking to preheat, and cover your loaf when you are baking. For some extra steam, you can also put a few cubes of ice under the cover or in the dutch oven.
Remove the dough from the fridge. Flip it over on a parchment paper and score it with the bread lame. Grease your bread lame and score the dough at approximately 45-degree angle, 3/4 inch deep.
Transfer into the hot dutch oven, cover with the lid. Covering the bread creates steam inside for a beautiful, crunchy crust. Bake at 500F for 15 minutes, lid on. Reduce temperature to 450F, remove the lid and bake for 20 more minutes until the crust is golden brown.
Let it cool for 2 hours.
Enjoy the most delicious bread you've made yourself!
Hi! My dough is to liquidy to fold… What should I do? I have already given it an extra 45 min but nothing seem to happen.. any suggestions?
Hello Sharie, thank you for your comment. 🍞 Please checkout our sourdough starter recipe here – https://happysourdough.com/blogs/happy-sourdough-blog/sourdough-starter-recipe. As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We’ll be happy to help. Happy holidays! 🎄
How do you make the starter?
Hi, is it okay to follow your recipe if my starter is currently at 100% hydration ?
im looking for large mixing bowel
With handle I find it to hard to hold a bowel with out. Do you have any in store