Sourdough bread is one of the simple joys in life, don’t you think? I still remember the first sourdough I ever ate and how intensely i loved it right from the start. Since then I’ve continued to expand my knowledge and learn new dough recipes. There are so many tiny tweaks that can be made to a recipe that bring gloriously different results. Sourdough really is magic. This is my go to weekend sourdough. Most of the bread that we eat regularly is this recipe. It takes a bit of time and a bit of practice, but learning a sourdough recipe to have in your repertoire is something you won’t regret.
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If you haven’t got a sourdough starter (aka; sourdough mother) pop over to my post on Making and Maintaining a Sourdough Starter. Once you have your starter made, you’re well on your way.
This is an overnight sourdough, so obviously it takes at least overnight to make. Duh. But there is a slight amount of planning involved in your timing. The morning that you plan to make your dough, you must feed your starter a bit more than usual and let it come to life over about 7-9 hours. Once it comes time to make the dough, you’ll want to give yourself about 5 hours of time for the mixing, folding, and bulk fermentation. Only after that can you put your dough to bed for the night. The night being about 12-15 hours later. So really make sure you have the day of baking off from work, as you might be staying up a bit late the night before, and baking slightly later in the morning.
So let’s get started!
This recipe comes from my absolute favourite bread book Flour Water Yeast Salt by Ken Forkish. This isn’t a paid promotion or anything, I just truly love the book. I actually got this recipe from a friend before getting his book. And after trying it out, I had to go buy it. Definitely worth a purchase if you want to continue to hone your sourdough skills.
For this bread, you will need:
- A scale
- A large mixing bowl
- A couple smaller bowls for weighing things like salt, starter, etc.
- A large 4 cup measuring cup
- A dough scraper
- 2 Banneton baskets
- A cast iron dutch oven
- Bread flour
- Whote wheat flour
- Koscher salt
- Dry active yeast
- Active sourdough starter
The Morning of Dough Mixing Day
I usually like to feed my starter at around 8am. For this feeding you will be making the sourdough starter a bit bigger, so that you can take away what you need later, without depleting your mother.
Discard all but 100g of your sourdough mother. Add to that 400g bread flour, 100g of whole wheat flour, and 400g of filtered, slightly warmer than room temperature water. Mix thoroughly to combine. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for 7-9 hours.
30 minutes before you are ready to use your sourdough starter, combine 740g bread flour, 60g whole wheat flour, and 620g slightly warmer than room temperature water in a large mixing bowl. This mix will be very sticky, that’s okay. Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes. This helps the dough develop flavour and makes sure the flours are nicely hydrated.
In a couple small bowls, weigh out 360g of sourdough starter, 21g koscher salt, and 2g of active dry yeast. Add these on top of your pre ferment mix. Fill your large measuring cup with cool filtered water. You’ll dip your mixing hand into the water often to help prevent the dough from sticking too badly to your hand. Dip your hand into the water, shake off some of the excess (so you aren’t adding too much water to the dough). Gently pull the edges of the dough up and over the starter, yeast and salt. Do this from all sides of the dough, like packing everything into a dough pouch.
Next you want to mix it until it’s well combined and salt is dissolved. This takes a few minutes and is best done through a series of folds and pinches. Wetting your hand often, start by grabbing the dough all the way around with your thumb and fingers in a sort of claw motion. Squeeze it until you claw the dough into two chunks. Do that one or two more times. Now start folding, grab an edge of the dough and stretch it up and over the chunks. Rotate the bowl about ¼ turn and repeat. Keep rotating and folding until your chunks are re combined. Than start again with pinching the dough into chunks, and folding them back together. Keep doing the pinches and folds until you can’t feel and salt granules. This can take 3-5 minutes if you’re practiced, but can take longer when you’re new, so don’t get worried or discouraged, be patient, and keep going. Bread can be quite forgiving at this stage.
Once it’s mixed, cover it for about 15 minutes.
The dough now needs to rest for about 5 hours. During this time it will rise, develope flavour and build strength. Your job in this time is to help it build up strength. To do this, you need to stretch and fold it a few times. By doing that you’re allowing the gluten in the flours to become nice and stretchy. You want to do all your folds within the first hour, and you’ll be doing 3-4 times. I space my folds out at 15 minute intervals.
After your first 15 minutes, uncover the dough. Dip your mixing hand in water, and grab an edge of the dough. Gently but firmly pull it up and over the rest of the dough. Rotate the bowl slightly and repeat. I do this motion 4-5 times at each interval. Your dough with immediately feel more taught and springy. Cover again and repeat 2-3 more times at 15 minute intervals.
Prepare your Bannetons
You want to get your banneton baskets ready so that once you’ve divided the dough you can fill them immediately. If you use regular flour to dust the baskets, you might still get some sticking. This dough is quite a thirsty dough, and has a tendency to just absorb extra white flour. My suggestion is to use rice flour instead. There won’t be any weird flavour, and rice flour is much less readily absorbed by the dough. This means you won’t get sticking. Liberally dust each banneton and set aside.
Dividing the Dough
After your final fold, your dough with look noticeably more tight. Leave it covered on the counter for the remaining 4 hours. The next step is to divide the dough into two loaves. Using a dough scraper, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter. Sprinkle a line of flour down the center of your dough ball, and use the flat edge of your dough scraper to chop the down in half down your floured line.
With floured hands, start with your first piece. Gently stretch and fold the edges of the piece up and into the center of the dough. Repeat a few times until all sides have been folded over. Flip the now slightly tight ball over. Move to a less floured part of the counter and using both hands, move the dough in a circle on the counter, causing it to pinch and tighten up underneath itself. You don’t want to tear the top or be too rough, so if you are feeling unsure, just stop. That way you won’t over work the dough.
Place your dough balls seam side down into your prepared bannetons. Cover each basket tightly. I use a beeswax wrap secured with an elastic band. Then place them into the fridge.
The dough should hang out in the fridge for 12-15 hours. During this time you won’t see much of a change. They’ll rise a bit, but mostly this step will develop the flavour more by slowing down yeast activity.
I only have one dutch oven so I bake my loaves one at a time. Remove one loaf from the fridge and sit on the counter (still in it’s basket). Place your dutch oven into your oven and heat to 475F, allow it to heat up for about 45 minutes. Once the oven is good and hot, remove the dutch oven, and sprinkle a layer of cornmeal into the bottom. Gently flip your dough ball out on the counter, and carefully pick it up and transfer it to the dutch oven. Cover with the lid and place in the oven.
Now remove your second loaf from the fridge and let it come to room temp on the counter in it’s basket.
Bake your first loaf for 20 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid and bake for a further 20-25 minutes. Don’t be afraid of it getting some lovely brown colouring. If you take it out too soon, you won’t get as yummy a crust as you could potentially get.
Remove from the oven, and let the loaf cool full on a wire rack before cutting. Once you’ve transferred the first loaf onto a wire rack, flip out your second loaf, add it to the dutch oven, replace the lid and bake in the same way as the first.
Be Patient Before Slicing!
I find it nearly impossible to wait until the loaves are fully cooled before slicing off the ends to nibble. But they’re 100x easier to slice when they’re cool, so don’t be stubborn like me! Once they’re cooled, I usually put one in the freezer and one in the fridge. These loaves freeze really well, and have lasted us at least 3 weeks in the freezer, followed by 2 weeks in the fridge. Make sure they’re tightly wrapped, and you’ll have yummy bread whenever you want it.
If sourdough isn’t for you, check out my super easy, No Knead Bread. It’s still needs over night to sit and rise, but takes way less planning and effort. And it still results in a damn tasty loaf. In fact, it was my original go to loaf, and is still handy if a need bread in a pinch.