Why has it taken me this long to share my sourdough bread recipe? I’ve gone and shared how I make banana bread, strawberry scones, bostock, but not my beloved bread? Seriously though, this is my favorite thing to bake. I have consistently made bread from scratch since learning how in January of 2018. Bread baking is one of my true loves in this world. And knowing how to bake sourdough bread from scratch is more important now than ever before.
We live in a world where highly-processed wheat is causing an inflammatory epidemic that has been linked to conditions such as autoimmune diseases and autism. Our gut microbiomes are off-kilter because processed foods are anything but nutritious. I have studied microbiology in Chile, gone through medical training in dental school, talked to farmers preserving ancient heritage grain, worked in a sourdough bread bakery, got my hands dirty volunteering on a farm for six months, and read multiple studies and books. All of this has lead me repeatedly to the following truths:
- More people need to be making their meals at home.
- We need to source ingredients that are local.
- It is imperative to avoid anything packaged in plastic or pre-processed.
Look at the ingredient lists. Nix the preservatives. Be a part of the process. You can start this entire journey just by baking your own bread.
There are many recipes out there and I welcome you to try all of them as I have. Treat this one as a guideline rather than stone-etched truth. Even I change my ratios all the time! It depends on how me and my starter are feeling that day, or what my schedule looks like. My best recommendation is to approach it like you would a science project. And just have fun!
My Sourdough Bread Recipe
Ingredients to Make Sourdough Bread:
- 650 g water
- 200 g starter – ours is self-made from scratch, using the Tartine Bread’s method.
- 200 g whole wheat flour – my favorite is Red Fife, Rye, or Sonora from Tehachipi Grain Project in Southern California
- 800 g bread flour – my favorite brands are Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur
- 20 g Salt
- Additional 50 g water
- Rice flour for dusting
A word on ingredients: High-quality ingredients lead to high-quality bread. It isn’t rocket science. When I started out, I was buying low quality flour which never translated to decent bread. It wasn’t until I started buying fresh grains and then milling the grains myself into flour that I saw a big difference. I bought the Mockmill which is perfect for a household that bakes often. I used grains from a local farmer and had to pick up bags of ancient heritage grain from a farmer’s market in Long Beach. But I understand that a personal mill is quite the investment. Luckily, the popularization of microbakeries and microfarms providing freshly milled flour has occurred since I first started making bread. I recommend Rye Goods and Ecology Center for my Southern California audience.
- Silicone bench scraper
- Metal bench scraper
- 2 Round bread proofing baskets with Liners
- Cast Iron Combo Cooker
- Heat-Proof Gloves That Work (Regular baking gloves won’t do! You need grilling or BBQ gloves)
- Marble pastry slab (optional)
- Kitchen Aid Pro 6500 (optional)
- Glass mixing bowl (if you don’t have a Kitchen Aid Mixer Bowl)
- Shaving blade with a bread lame (optional)
- Kitchen Scale
A word on products: I got all of my materials from Williams Sonoma, which happens to be my favorite cooking store. I sincerely like the quality of goods there, and find that the higher price of some of these products are worth the splurge. I have kept all of my materials since day one, and have yet to find the need to replace them.
The Process of Making Sourdough Bread:
- Place the mixing bowl (either glass if you don’t have a Kitchen Aid or the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl) onto the kitchen scale and tare it to 0. Have the kitchen scale setting to grams.
- In the bowl, add 650 g of water, 200 g of starter, 200 g of whole wheat flour and 800 g of bread flour.
- Using the dough attachment, mix the ingredients in your Kitchen Aid Mixer. If you don’t have an electric mixer, you can hand mix the dough. It takes a lot of work, but it’s actually kind of satisfying! Use the plastic bench scraper to scrape the dough from the sides of the bowl and move it to the center – so that no doughy bits stick to the sides. If it has mixed thoroughly enough in the stand mixer, the dough should pull away from the sides on its own.
- Let the dough rest in the mixing bowl for 30 minutes.
- Add 20 g of salt and 50 g of water to the mixing bowl. Mix until integrated, by hand or using the electric mixer.
- Let rest for 30 minutes.
- Turn the dough every 30 minutes for 3-4 hours. The amount of time depends on the temperature of your space. The warmer the temperature, the sooner the dough will finish fermenting. Likewise, the more active the starter, the quicker the dough will be ready. The most important thing is to look for texture. The dough should double in size and have an airy state. Turning the dough means scooping up the underbelly of the dough and folding it over itself. I do this 3 times with each “turn”, going around the bowl to make sure the dough is turned on all sides.
- When the dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out from the mixing bowl onto a marble pastry slab. A wooden countertop works well too.
- Flour the top part of the dough using either rice flour or bread flour. Using a metal bench scraper, cut the dough in half.
- Take one of the halves. Flip the dough so that the floured side is down and the unfloured side is facing up. Gently fold half of the dough over itself so now a floured surface is on top and on the bottom. Using a metal bench scraper, shape the dough into a ball by dragging the dough towards you, then turning it a quarter turn and dragging it towards you again. Keep doing this until you get a boule shaped dough. Repeat with the other dough half.
- Let the two boules rest on the pastry slab for 15 to 20 minutes before final shaping.
- I like to shape these guys into batards. I do that by flouring the top of the dough, then flipping it over so the unfloured surface is exposed again. I proceed to make an envelope out of the dough. I grab the bottom section and fold it 2/3rd of the way up. I then extend the left and right sides of the dough and fold them to the midline. Then, I take the top part of the “envelope” and fold it to the midline. I then grab the left and right sides of the dough and “braid” them toward the center. Lastly, I roll the farthest part of the dough at the top towards the bottom, and flip the dough over. This is all too confusing, so I do recommend watching videos online on how to shape a batard! It is super helpful.
- Once you’ve shaped your dough, I let it rest for a minute and then place them in their bread basket, with the seams facing up.
- I place the bread babies in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Make sure to cover the tops of the bread with a double-lined linen napkin to prevent the cold air from forming a tough layer. The longer you keep it in the fridge, the more sour it will get as the bread ferments for longer.
- When you are ready to bake, turn on the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the combo cooker in the oven so it preheats with the oven. You need a hot combo cooker to make the bread rise!
- After the oven has preheated for 45 minutes, remove combo cooker (shorter pan) from the oven using really thick gloves (please don’t burn yourself!) and sprinkle rice flour on the bottom to prevent dough from sticking. Invert the bread baby from the basket onto the combo cooker. Take a blade and score the bread by making one big slash down the midline – you want to go about 1/8th the depth of your dough. Slash it with precision and confidence!
- Place the taller pan of the combo cooker on top as a lid, then place the entire combo cooker in the oven.
- Bake bread for 25-30 minutes. I have baked bread in 4 different ovens since starting my journey and I can tell you that each one has a different baking time! If you’ve got a strong oven, definitely go on the quicker side.
- Remove the top lid of the combo cooker and bake the bread for another 3-5 minutes. This will brown the crust of the bread.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
- I recommend eating fresh bread within 2 days. Store in an air-tight container, away from cold drafts which makes the bread stale quicker. If you can’t finish a loaf of bread that quickly, I rec slicing it up and freezing them in a freezer proof bag.
I am a self-taught bread baker and I truly believe anyone can make gut-friendly bread in the comforts of their home. My recipe works for me 100% of the time. The challenge lies in technique and understanding the dough. Practice will only make you better. My starter has become my most loyal and trustworthy companion. It never fails me and I depend on it whole-heartedly. After you learn the nuances of bread baking and tasted the difference in fresh bread, you will never go back.