How to Make Homemade Sourdough Bread
I don’t often make bread products but sourdough is the exception. After I watched the Cooked documentary on Netflix by Michael Pollan, I was immediately on the sourdough bread train. The sourdough bread recipe sounded simply amazing. The particular episode of Cooked, “Air” caught my attention because fermented sourdough, as bread was intended to be made, is easier for us to digest than regular bread. Who doesn’t wish bread was better for us? Modern bread is filled with preservatives and quickly risen, making it difficult for our bodies to use nutrients and digest. I make this about once per month and freeze one loaf for later use.
Why is sourdough better for us?
Sourdough bread is easier for us to digest and it neutralizes phytic acid. Phytic acid is known as an anti-nutrient because it binds important nutrients that we need. Fermentation can have the yeast bacteria break down this phytic acid and make nutrients more available for us to absorb. The sourdough is “fermenting” almost like a pre-digestion to help us break it down when we eat it. It also apparently does not contain much gluten. According to Michael Pollan, if you are gluten sensitive you may be able to eat this (not if you have Celiac, just if sensitive! Please don’t use that as advice) Just like some people can eat bread in Europe but not here in America.
The process is easy but is long. It is well worth the wait. You need white flour, whole grain wheat flour, rye flour, water, sea salt, ceramic casserole dish, and possibly yeast. It makes 2 loaves and takes approximately 9 hours for the fermentation process and 45 minutes for baking. I attempt to break it down to be as simple as possible.
Mix equal parts water and flour in a glass or wood bowl. I like to do 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water Cover with a towel and wait.
The flour should be unbleached. The water should be non-chlorinated. Apparently you can set out your your tap water for a few hours and this evaporates off. Use a glass bowl only. Avoid silverware or metal bowls or mixing utensils as reactions can occur. Set it in a somewhat warmer area so it has access to the air by covering with a towel or cheesecloth. You should be able to catch “wild” yeast. If not, add some yeast from a packet. You should see bubbles and smell yeast or alcohol.
Another option: Buy a sourdough bread starter =WORTH IT.
Each day, feed starter → discard half the starter and add equal parts flour and water. Continue this for 5 days before you begin sourdough bread making.
The next process happens overnight. On the night before sourdough bread making, you will be mixing two different concoctions together. Grab two glass bowls.
The Night Before Breadmas
First bowl: Leaven
- 100 g whole grain flour
- 100 g white unbleached flour
- 200 g warm water
- 35 g starter
Second bowl: Bread
- 600 g whole wheat
- 250 g white flour
- 150 g rye flour
- 900 g warm water
Mix each well. Cover both bowls and let them soak overnight
- Drop in a glass of warm water
- if floats→ leaven is ready
- if sinks→ add 1/2 packet yeast with 50 g warm water
- Add 1/2 the leaven to the bread mixture and let rest 20 minutes (should be soupy)
- The other 1/2 of the leaven is your new starter
Start Fermenting the Bread
- Add 25 g sea salt dissolved in warm water to leaven/bread mixture you already let sit for 20 minutes, use hands to mix
- Ferment 4-5 hours.. this means put a towel over it and let it sit
- Every 45-60 minutes, turn dough→ stretch and fold the dough about 3 times.
- The dough is ready to make sourdough bread when “billowy and cohesive”
- if it smells very sour→ ready to shape
- should smell yeasty and sour
Shaping and Rising
- Shape 2 globes and use additional flour if wet, cover, and rest 20 minutes (sometimes it’s not perfect but that’s okay)
- Shape to a sphere or rectangle and put each on a surface and cover, rest the shaped dough for 2-3 hours
- You can place in fridge overnight if you ran out of time to bake→ just leave out for 1 hour before baking to get to temperature
- Use ceramic casserole dish with lid for best results, with chewy center and crusty, crunchy crust (I have not tried any other way)
- Preheat oven to 500° with the ceramic dish inside the oven with the lid on
- Decrease the temperature for 450° and place bread in dish CAREFULLY. Feel free to “score” the top any way you like to make your sourdough bread look fancy.
- Bake 20 minutes with lid on
- Remove lid and bake an additional 23-25 minutes.
Brush with butter and enjoy! Let cool.
You can freeze one loaf for later use.
Michael Pollan’s Cooked
Cooked documentary on Netflix
First We Eat podcast “Sourdough”
Fresh Flavors: Sourdough bread is easy to make and your body will thank you.