Baking bread. It’s just 4 ingredients, so it shouldn’t be tricky, right? And yet it can be so complicated! I’ve tried so many times and failed. This one though is the exception and I can do it every single time!
In order to get your best loaf, here are a few of my tips for making your best bread yet:
- Use a scale and measure in grams, not cups. You’ll get a much more accurate, light and fluffy loaf as opposed to sticky and dense.
- Make sure your oven is hot!
- Don’t rush the process!
Honestly, that’s it! Trust the process and be patient. I set the instructions below to a time of day but obviously adjust accordingly to your time table. It’s just meant to help lay out the bread-making roadmap.
I try to make recipes for you that are simple, straight forward and basic. This recipe uses your sourdough starter, flour, water and salt. Nothing else. Well, and time if you count that as an ingredient! 🙂 Once you’ve made this, you’ll never go back to store-bought bread. It’s just that good!
Let me know what questions you have in the comments below! Happy baking!
Homemade Sourdough Bread
- 4 cups (520g) bread flour
- 2 teaspoons (12g) fine sea salt
- 1/3 cup (90g) sourdough starter, unfed (you can use fed starter, but it won’t have as strong a sour flavor)
- 1 7/8 cups (385 grams) filtered water
- 8pm: Make the dough – To a medium bowl, add the flour, then add the salt. Mix the starter and water together in a separate small bowl until cloudy and well mixed. Pour the starter-water into flour and mix until flour is fully incorporated. The dough should be thick, shaggy, and heavy. Mix for about 1-2 minutes then cover with a wet kitchen towel to rest for 15 minutes.
- 8:20: Stretch dough – With wet hands, pull the dough from one side of the bowl and stretch it upward. Then fold it up and over to the center of the dough. Quarter turn the bowl and repeat, stretching up and folding it over the middle, repeat for about 30 seconds or until the dough gets firm and resists. This helps strengthen the gluten. Cover, rest, and repeat the process 15 minutes later.
- 8:35pm: Proof overnight – Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and place it on your kitchen counter for 8-12 hours (if it is warmer, check at 6-8 hours. If it is very cold, it may take up to 18 hours in winter).
- 8am: Check the dough – The dough should have expanded, with a slight springy dome to the top. It won’t necessarily double in size ( maybe 1.5 -1.75 times bigger) but will have expanded. Poke test – With a floured finger, poke into the dough. If it indents easily and mostly springs back to its original shape, it has probably risen enough. If it feels firm or very hard to indent, let it rise longer. If it feels loose, runny, or indents too easily or doesn’t spring back, it is most likely over-proofed.
- Line a high-sided bowl with parchment
- Stretch again – Loosen the dough from the all edges of a bowl using your wet fingers. With both wet hands, carefully pull the dough straight up, in the middle and lift it, stretching straight up in the air- about 1-2 feet and place it back down, gently folding it on top of itself. In this first stretch, the dough may feel quite loose and runny. This is OK. It should firm up as it stretches and folds. (Note: If your dough breaks here, it is probably over-proofed, bake it anyways. If your dough won’t stretch like the photo and feels too tight or firm, it needs to proof longer). After the first stretch, give the bowl a quarter turn, wait 30-60 seconds, wet your hands again and stretch it up high again, folding over itself in the bowl. Wait 30-60 seconds. Then, the third time you lift and stretch, you will lift it all the way into your parchment-lined bowl, folding over itself like you’ve been doing.
- 8:15am: Final Rise and Preheat Oven – Place the bowl in the refrigerator for one hour uncovered which will firm up the bread, and make scoring easier and help boost “oven spring”. It won’t rise in the fridge. Preheat the oven (for 1 FULL hour) to 450F with your dutch oven inside and lid on.
- 9:15am: Score & Bake – Place dough by the stove. Pull out the dutch oven from the oven, close the oven, remove lid. Score the bread in the bowl using a very sharp knife – score it swiftly and deeply, at a 45-degree angle, 3/4- 1-inch deep. You want to score where you want the dough to puff out from.
- Carefully lift the parchment by the corners and place both bread and parchment directly into the dutch oven. Cover quickly. It is OK if parchment peaks out. You want to score and transfer as quickly as possible.
- Place dutch oven in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Remove lid. It should be puffed and just lightly golden and internal temp close to200F (if not, put lid back on for a few more minutes). Continue baking 10-15 minutes until deeply golden and internal temp reaches 204- 208F.
- 10am: Cool – let it cool 1-4 hours on a rack. Once cool, serve it up!!
- Store – Store the bread wrapped in a kitchen towel for the first day or two to keep the crust nice and crispy, then move it to a zip lock bag to keep it moist for longer. It can also be sliced and frozen. Enjoy!