My weekly Sourdough

I started baking with a starter years ago, but I wasn’t really a bread eater, so I killed it more than once. But last September I joined a class at The Mill, where they also gave us a proofing basket and a piece of their starter, and I’ve been baking with it almost every week since then. I’ve learned a lot more in these 6-7 months and I end up developing my own timetable, adjusting little details here and there and experimenting with different flours. It was, therefore, time to record the video of my process – because I know how helpful it can be.

Day 1, 7:30 am – Step 1 : bring your starter to room temperature

Day 1, 9:30 am – Step 2 : feed it with 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 of water. Let it rest for 2-4 hours. It should show some bubbles and a little increase in volume.

Day 1, 1:00 pm – Step 3 : add 1-2 tbsp of fed starter in a big mixing bowl, add 50 ml of water and 50 gr of flour. Let it rest for a few hours covered with a towel. It should become loose and soft.

Day 1, 7:00 + 7:30 + 8:00 + 8:30 pm – Step 4 : dissolve this pre-dough in some of the 400 ml of water, then add the remaining. Add 500 gr of flour(s) and 12 gr (about 1 tbsp) of salt. Stir until there are no more spots of dry flour in the bowl. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes, then fold as you see in the video. Repeat this step for a total of 4 times with a break of 30 minutes each time. Let it rise for a couple of hours.

Day 1, 10:30 pm – Step 5</strong >: shape the loaf and put it in the proofing basket with the sealing upside – see the video – then put it in the fridge overnight.

Day 2, 7:30 am – Step 6 : pre-heat the oven to 475° F (250° C) with the lid part of the combo cooker – read below – inside. When it reaches the temperature, remove the proofing basket from the fridge, turn it upside down to drop the loaf into the hot cast iron pan/lid and score it using a razor blade – I use this fancy one to avoid cutting my fingers because I’m not the most careful baker, ahem. Cover with the other part of the cast iron set and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the upper part and bake for another 25 minutes.

Your sourdough is ready! Let it cool for at least 1 hour – otherwise, something happens with the starch and the crumb will seem like it’s not completely baked.

Find some useful Q&A after the video.

Do I have to be so precise with the schedule?
Not at all! Find one you feel comfortable with. It also depends on the temperature of your kitchen: the warmer the quicker the process will be, while the fridge is perfect to slow it down. It’s not a problem if you extend the rest times. Sometimes I can’t fold the dough every 30 minutes because I’m taking a shower/grocery shopping/anything else, so I let the dough rest for even 1 hour before doing the third fold, for instance. Don’t worry too much!

What kind of flour for the starter?
It depends on what starter do you have. I strongly suggest not starting by zero with your own starter: it’s way easier and cheaper ask for a tbsp of old and strong starter from a friend or a bakery.

What if I use whole grain flours?
You can use whatever flours and grains you like. The dough will slightly change in texture, wetness, and shape-holding, but the result, once baked, will be awesome. I once used 100 g of buckwheat flour in the mix and I had no issues at all. I only suggest using 450 ml of water instead of 400 only when using 100% whole wheat flour – for 100% whole-spelt flour, keep the 400 ml amount.

Can I use himalayan salt?
Josey‘s bakers suggest using only sea salt since the himalayan type could interfere with the leavening.

Why do you suggest using the combo cooker by Lodge
It’s important for the bread to have a closed environment to bake, so the humidity it develops allows a better result in both the crust and the crumb. I suggest using this instead of a dutch oven because using the lid as the bottom and the skillet as lid you’ll have a shallow freaking hot cast iron ring to drop your dough – fewer burning risks! – and the dough itself will have a smaller impact trauma.

I think I covered all the basics, but for any other question or doubt, you know where to find me! Talk soon, xoxo

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  • LOVED the video! So playful and instructive. I’ve always been quite intimidated by sourdough baking because I imagine it being so fuzzy? But this video made it feel so much simpler! Too bad I’m gluten intolerant thought… 😉 Gonna have to learn how to do it with rice sourdough <3

    • Thanks so much! I know that it looks fuzzy and challenging when you read the process, but it’s way easier when someone shows you how to do it. I feel the same when I read about how to make your own kombucha 😀 Anyway, there are a lot of gluten-free starter + sourdough on the web, I think the steps are gonna be really similar, just amounts and timetable will be different.

  • This bread is STUNNING! I’ve been dying to make my own sourdough and just haven’t brought myself to do it. This is very motivating!

  • I killed my starter so many times that at some point I gave up. I miss all the process of making my own bread though. I used to make the Tartine’s one, the one you make for a whole day and I loved it. At least once a week and then I was eating it for a week. It was one big loaf. Thank you for the video. I hope it will motivate me to make my own starter again 🙂

    • I killed so many starters in the past 😛 With this recipe I obtain a 850g loaf (sometimes 825, sometimes 875 g, depending on the flours or the weather) and it lasts for an entire week! In the first days I slice and slightly toast it to make it perfect again, and when it becomes to hard to chew, I chop and cook it in a wok with juicy veggies (as fresh tomatoes or even with kale, maybe adding some water)…so delicious!
      I haven’t baked this week and I kinda miss it.

      • Scusami Vale, mi sto mettendo al lavoro e ho qualche difficoltà perché ho la pasta madre solida. Pensavo di fare un rinfresco con uguale quantità di acqua e farina. Secondo te quanti grammi devo far venir fuori? (Non mi sembra tu abbia dato indicazioni sulla quantità di pasta madre che rinfreschi, giusto? O mi è sfuggito?)

        • “Giorno 1, 7:30 – Step 1 : tirate fuori la pasta madre dal frigorifero.
          Giorno 1, 9:30 – Step 2 : rinfrescatela aggiungendo 1/4 cup (60 ml) di farina e lo stesso volume d’acqua. Laciatela riposare per 2-4 ore, dopo le quali dovrebbe presentare piccole bollicine e dovrebbe essere cresciuta un pochino in volume.”
          E questo processo fa venir fuori una pasta madre piuttosto liquida. Recentemente però ho cambiato le dosi per ottenerne una + solida, quindi rinfresco con 90 ML di farina e 60 ml d’acqua 🙂
          Comunque io rinfresco tutta la pasta madre che ho, butto via gli eccessi dopo!

  • Yum! The first time I made sourdough starter it took forever (as in 2 weeks ;-)), but the second time it was up and running in 4 days! I think baking yeasted bread makes the yeasties go everywhere. Your loaf is truly gorgeous, mine never look that good.