Beginner Sourdough Bread
Flavourful, crusty sourdough bread, for the novice sourdough baker.
For the Sponge
- For the Dough
For the Sponge
- Stir starter and water together in a large bowl until fully combined.
- Stir in flour until combined.
- Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 2-3 hours. For the Dough
- Add water to the sponge and mix with wooden spoon to combine with.
- Add flour, 1/2 cup at a time and stir to combine until all flour is incorporated. You will need to mix with your hands for the last bit.
- Once all flour has been added, knead to form a ball, about 1 minute.
- Cover bowl tightly and let dough rest for 20 minutes.
- Use fingers to poke pockets in dough then sprinkle salt over dough.
- Knead for 8-10 minutes until salt is incorporated and dough is soft, smooth and moist (no longer sticky).
- Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl and cover bowl with plastic.
- Let dough rise until doubled in size about 3-5 hours. The ideal rising temperature for dough is between 70-78F. If the room is warmer than that, try to rise in a cooler, no cooler than 65F.
- Line rimmed baking sheet with 2 squares of parchment paper (one per loaf).
- Gently stretch dough as far as possible without tearing (to redistribute yeast), then fold it into thirds like a business letter.
- Divide dough in half crosswise, then loosely shape each piece into a ball, cover loosely with plastic, and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Cup hands stiffly around 1 piece of dough (keeping the other piece covered) and drag in short half-circular motions towards the edge of the counter, forming a smooth, taught surface. Pinch bottom seam closed and set loaf seam side down on one of the parchment sheets.
- Repeat with second set of dough.
- Spray loaves lightly with vegetable oil spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Remove loaves from fridge and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 3-4 hours. (Dough should barely spring back when poked with knuckle.)
- One hour before baking, adjust oven rack to lower middle position, place baking stones or cast iron pans on rack (one per loaf is best so they don’t join together), and heat oven to 500 F.
- Just before baking, dust top of loaves generously with flour then, using serrated knife, slash the surface of the loaves with lines 1/2 – 3/4 inch deep.
- Working quickly, spray loaves with water and slide loaves on parchment onto baking stones. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 450F.
- Bake, spraying loaves twice more during first 5 minutes of baking, until crust is a deep golden brown and loaves register 205-210F internally, about 30 minutes.
- Transfer loaves to wire rack, discard parchment and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Do not cut into the loaves before 2 hours of cooling or the texture will be gummy!
If not using all of the loaf the same day, the loaf can be sliced and frozen for storage.