Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Homemade Artisan Sourdough Bread

I love sourdough bread. The slighly sour taste mixed with hot melted butter is heaven to my taste buds. Since starting a sourdough starter over a year ago, I have been trying to perfect this artisan loaf. I have to say, it has the best texture and crust of any I have tried! Real artisan sourdough is often cooked in a brick oven in a terracotta dish, but I believe this version is perfect for the everyday chef.

This is my sourdough starter. It is in its second year of living in my refrigerator, and it has worked hard for me. I have made sourdough bagels, sourdough pancakes, and sourdough bread, all from this one magical, bubbly mess! You will need at least 1/2 c of starter for this recipe.

These are the only two vessels needed for making this sourdough. The glass bowl is for mixing, and the round casserole dish (with a lid) is needed for baking.

The first mixture is the most important part of this recipe. If you don't get the texture right, your bread could fall flat! For this mixture, you will need:

1/2 c sourdough starter (I sometimes throw in a bit more)

3 c flour- this time, I used 1 1/2 c unbleached and 1 1/2 c spelt. The more whole grain flour, the denser your bread will be. I find that the 50-50 ratio makes a great loaf.

1 t sea salt

1 1/2 c water

Mix everything in a glass bowl. If the mixture is runny, add more flour. The dough should be firm but wet, as in the picture above.

Since the dough will need to sit out for a long period of time, start the dough with respect to the meal with which you will eat it. For a lunch loaf, start the dough around 5pm the night before. For a dinner loaf, start it around 10pm the night before.

Next comes the waiting... as with many traditionally-made foods, sourdough requires a long fermentation. I let it sit on my counter, covered with a wet towel, for 12 to 15 hours. The timing all depends on the temperature of your home. Since it's been fairly warm in my home lately, I let my dough ferment for 13 hours. The picture shows how much it has risen overnight.

When your dough is ready, you need to "flip" it. I call it this because it is kind of like flipping pancakes :) Get your hands really floury, and sprinkle the top with a few pinches of flour, then flip it from the side to the center of the bowl. I usually turn the bowl 2 or 3 times while I'm flipping to make sure I get it all unstuck from the bowl.


When you have flipped your dough, turn it out on a lightly floured surface while you clean and grease the bowl. This picture shows my dough after having been flipped and back in the glass bowl. I coated my bowl generously with virgin coconut oil.

Re-cover the dough with a wet cloth and let it sit for the second rise. This rise could range anywhere from 2 to 4 hours. Today, mine took 2.5 hrs.

Here's my dough, ready for baking! If you let the dough go too long, you might see large bubbles coming to the surface and popping. If this happens, don't fret- just get that loaf in the oven pronto!

To bake your sourdough, preheat the oven and the lidded baking dish to 450 degrees F. I have tried baking at a lower temp, but the crust just isn't the same! When oven and baking dish are heated, carefully remove the lid and pour in your dough. You may need to use your hands or a stiff spatula to help the dough along. Cut some 1" slits in the top of the dough with some kitchen scissors and replace the lid.

Bake 30 minutes with the lid ON.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes with the lid OFF.


Here's what you will pull out of the oven! A crusty loaf fit for a French boulangerie. It is fantastic with a large dollop of butter or dipped in your favorite seasoned olive oil! Artisan quality, and oh so delicious!

Here's a cross section of the bread to show you the fluffy goodness you'll find under that crispy crust! My kids ate the other half... If you are not satisfied with the rise of this loaf, you can always use 100% unbleached flour for an amazingly fluffy bread.

This post was shared on Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist