Baking Sourdough Bread

Baking Sourdough bread is actually quite easy.
All it takes is flour, water and salt.
No baker’s yeast is required. Actually, baker’s yeast is counterproductive and shouldn’t ever be used to make sourdough bread, no matter what some recipes say.
Obviously, there are hundreds of different recipes out there and most bakers claim that theirs is the only true recipe. If you ask five people, you’ll probably get eight opinions.
My recipe is the one that works best for me. It’s a basic recipe that will work with most kinds of flour.
First of all you take your sourdough starter (to find out how to get that, please read my blog-entry on this topic).
For five days in a row, add 100g of flour plus 100g of water every day.
Stir with a wooden spoon.

Once the jar is nearly full, pour the dough over into a large bowl.
Reserve about 100g of dough in the original jar. This will be your new starter for the next sourdough bread.

Stirring the sourdough in a large bowl. Observe the bubbles in the dough,

When stirring the sourdough in the large bowl, you’ll notice that bubbles have formed within the dough. This is exactly what you want to see.
The lactic acids as well as the naturla yeasts in the flour are dong their work.

On the sixth day, you add about 200g of flour plus 20g of salt.
It’s very important to wait until the last day before adding the salt.
Salt has the effect of slowing down the fermentation process. If you add it too early, the bacteria will be very slow and your sourdough won’t rise properly.
Basically, this is all you need for a perfect sourdough bread.
Personally though, I find it a bit boring so I always add some seeds.
My favourites are pumpkin-, sunflower- and chia-seeds.

My favourite seeds

I add the seeds plus the additional 200g of flour and 20g of salt to the dough.

I then let my machine do the work. You can also do this by hand but it’s a heck of a lot of work if you do.
I carefully add more flour until the dough doesn’t stick to the sides of the bowl anymore.

The machine does the work

For baking, the dough is then placed into a special basket.

A standard baking basket. These come in different shapes and sizes.

To prevent the dough from sticking to the basket, I use baking-paper which I shape the same way the basket is shaped.

The basket, clad out with baking-paper

I then cover the dough with flour and put it into the basket.

The dough is then covered with the baking paper and is set aside in a warm location (25C – 28C are perfect) for between 6 and 12 hours.
During this time, it’ll rise nicely.

The dough has risen in the basket

I then turn it upside down on a thin wooden bard with which I will later push it into the oven.

To make sure it will keep the right shape when it rises in the oven (it will rise a little bit because the air inside the bubbles will slight expand through the heat), I cut some stripes in the top of the loaf.

Cutting stripes into the loaf

I put a so-called pizza-stone into the oven.
In addition, a bowl of water is placed at the bottom of the oven.
This water is needed to give the bread its traditional crust. It evaporates and the steam goeas onto the dough, causing it to form a crust.
The oven is the heated to 230 Degress Celsuis.
Once it has reached that temperature, the loaf is put onto the hot pizza-stone.
Be careful when opening the oven. Keep your face back a bit as otherwise you’ll catch a load of boiling hot steam. You wouldn’t want that, trust me.

The loaf is in the oven

After 20 minutes, turn down the temperature to 180C and remove the bowl of water.
I think I don’t need to mention that this bowl is extremely hot, so be very careful.

Keep the bread in the oven at 180 Degrees for 50 more minutes, then remove it and place it on a metal grate to cool out evenly from all sides.

Letting the bread cool down on a metal grate.

Finally, after cooling down, the first slice is cut.
In this case I used spelt because I didn’t have any rye flour left, that’s why the colour is rather light.

As this is the first cut, the crust looks rather thick. Another two cuts and it’ll be normal.

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