During this lockdown I’ve been coping by learning to do new things, like doing new recipes in the kitchen. It keeps my mind focused on the present, while working with my hands to make something that my family can enjoy. I guess it’s my language of love for my family.
One of the things that I’ve always been too scared to do it bake bread. I really wanted to do sourdough because it’s healthier for our gut than instant yeasted bread, but it’s super challenging and complicated so this was my game plan!
- Bake the easiest possible bread recipe to have a small win: Olive Oil Bread from my favorite food blogger, Joey.
- Bake something in between the easy bread and sourdough: Pan Rustico recipe share with me by my bread guru, Det of Not So Jewish Bakery
- Then finally do a beginner’s sourdough recipe!
So how did my game plan work? See for yourself below!
This yeasted recipe was super easy because I was also lucky enough to be talked through it by my favorite foodblogger, Joey! I shouldn’t have slashed it on top. This loaf does not need to be slashed.
I was so ginger with the kneading because the first video on kneading that comes up when you search “how to knead bread” was so delicate with it. But after Det told me “no knead to be so gentle” and I saw this video on how to knead by Bake with Jack, I’m now more confident!
I also love that he doesn’t use dough! But it’s important to have a scraper. I didn’t have a bowl or bench scrapers, so I used a scraper I had for decals and it’s been working marvelously. It’s Enhanced Communit Quarantine time so we all have to make do with what we have. You can also use a spatula temporarily!
I used too much for this recipe and his no flour technique is gamechanging!
The crust is supposed to have a little more color, but I always like to underbake because my son DiploBaby hates the crust. So he loved this one coz it was soft and basically crust-less. I was so happy he ate everything! Normally he removes the crust.
If you want to make an easy white bread recipe this olive oil bread definitely worth looking at!
I was excited to do another recipe but not quite ready yet for sourdough. My bread guru Det gave me this yeasted recipe which is in between the olive oil bread and the sourdough in difficulty.
The yeast we used was super active! Look at it go!
I didn’t realize how big this bread would come out. It smelled amazing and tasted sooooo delicious! I wish I took better photos but this is how big it looked in my cookie pan. I always use an oven thermometer while baking because I don’t trust the knobs.
It came out almost as big as the cookie tray and definitely as big as my bread board LOL!
I was really happy with the taste of this bread!
In fact I made it again after I did the sourdough, but this time using the sourdough starter and splitting it into two smaller more manageable loaves!
BEST OF THE BEST VIDEOS
I watched a lot of videos during my journey to baking my first pieces of bread – some were great and really helpful and some were just time wasters. So here I’d like to compile the most helpful videos that really helped simplify baking bread for me.
It took me about 5 days to stabilize your starter so if you want to bake sourdough on a certain day, do your starter 6 days before because sourdough usually takes 2 days.
I just use all purpose flour for my starter and will probably later feed it some Rye or Whole Wheat when I get my hands on it. According to Bake with Jack, using organic flour is good because we want the bacteria to grow and ferment, and flour that has pesticide wich kills everything is counter to what we want to achieve. I super agree but have yet to get my hand on organic flour!
Before it got to this point I experienced:
- The starter “dying” or losing all the volume so I decided to start feeding it 2x a day and it was much better.
- Having hooch for 2 days, so Det advised me to feed without water and this made me realize I prefer a drier starter. For 2 days I did not feed it with any water. And on the third day I fed it with a little water, but not the same grams as the flour.
I don’t like having discard so I followed the technique of Jack below. Gamechanger!
How to feed it your starter
Making a starter without any discard:
Your starter is not dead!
Actually according to Jack, your starter is NOT DEAD. Yup!
The first ever sourdough that I made was an adapted version of this recipe which Det forwarded to me. What I did different was I used normal all-purpose flour for the starter because that’s all I had. I used Jack’s way of doing the starter (above).
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 150g all-purpose flour starter (rye is better)
- 350g water
- 11g fine sea salt or himalayan salt
- Cast-iron casserole (Dutch oven)
- Small sharp knife (a blade is better but I’m too scared)
1. Before using the starter, feed with 75g of flour and 75g of water (or whatever volume your recipe requires) and leave at room temperature for 8 hours.
2. Day 1: Place the flour in a large mixing bowl.
3. In another bowl, add starter to water and mix (your starter should float in the water).
4. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the liquid.
5. With a spatula, gently bring the dough together (don’t overmix – just until flour combines)
6. Cover and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.
7. Uncover the dough and place salt on top.
8. Sprinkle a little water over the salt, then gently start pulling the salt through the dough. This should take about 30 seconds, at which point you should feel your dough start to tighten up a little.
9. Cover and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
10. Day 2: Take dough from fridge and uncover. It will be firmer and starting to resemble a fully mixed dough.
11. Now we need to fold the dough to develop the gluten, reactivate the yeast and put air pockets into the dough. This is the video that I follow for folding:
12. After following the folding method of Jack, flip the whole dough over, so the bottom becomes the top.
13. Cover with a tea towel and rest it for 30mins.
14. Remove dough from the bowl and give it a gentle pre-shape (cup your hands and tuck the sides of the dough underneath until your hands meet, then rotate the dough clockwise, repeating the tuck, and rotate until a full circle is reached. It doesn’t need to look pretty).
15. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
16. Heavily dust your proving basket with flour (I use a bowl with a tea towel, dust the tea towel well!)
17. Shape your dough into a nice tight round by bringing the edges of your hands together (palms facing up) underneath the loaf as you turn it on your work surface. This will create good tension in the loaf.
18. Place the dough upside down (seam-side up) in the proving basket and leave to prove for 1 hour at room temperature.
19. Cover and place in the fridge for another 8-12 hours.
20. Day 3: Take your dough out of the fridge and leave it to rise for about 2 hours.
21. Pre-heat your oven to 250C / fan 230C / gas 10, or as hot as it will go.
22. Once your oven is ready, put a Dutch oven (cast iron casserole) in to heat up for about 30mins.
23. Very carefully take out the Dutch oven and place on a trivet/cloth so as not to burn your surface. I found this tricky so this video really helped me:
24. Sprinkle the loaf with flour (I didn’t have semolina) and gently place seam side down in the Dutch oven.
25. Using a small sharp knife (or razor blade), cut two slashes in the dough.
26. Put the lid on, place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes
27. Remove the lid and bake for a further 25 minutes.
28. Take out the Dutch oven and carefully remove the loaf
29. Put the loaf back into the oven, directly on the oven shelf, and bake for 10 more minutes, depending on how brown you like it to be.
30. Once baked, place on a rack to cool.
I honestly had a difficult time placing the dough into the hot dutch oven because I made the mistake of slashing it before it was in, so it was a bit of a mess when it plopped into the dutch oven. It’s not obvious from the top, but you can see it in the bottom.
I am still pretty happy with my very first ever sourdough bread! My son loved it because doesn’t have the super sour taste. According to Jack, this sour taste is not necessary for sourdough. It’s part of his video on sourdough myths!
BEGINNER SOURDOUGH VIDEO
If you prefer to follow a video from start to finish, these are great beginner sourdough videos:
Personally I like to also have a written recipe to look at so here is the written recipe of the Bake with Jack video above: SOURDOUGH LOAF FOR BEGINNERS
I also like this video because it’s also pretty simple to follow. I use an ordinary tea towel to cover my bread instead of using single-use cling wrap. Here are other options for covering bowls without cling wrap.
As you can see there are many ways to do sourdough. The important thing is to figure out what works for you and your schedule.
I’m excited to keep on baking and become better and better at this. Practice will only help us refine our technique, handling of the dough and getting to know our starters!
MY NEXT GOAL
My next goal is to mix in some nuts and seeds into my bread! This is a great video of how!
I’m going to admit, sourdough baking might not be for everyone. After my husband found out the process, he told me to just buy it. If you want the healthy yummy benefits of sourdough – good for your gut health, gluten is digested by the long process – but you don’t have the time or energy to do it, there is no shame in buying from other bakers. Supporting small businesses is so important right now! Below are my favorite sourdough bakers that you can order from: