Artisanal Sourdough Loaves

Are you a sourdough obsessed yet?  I am.

It started with a New Year’s resolution-not to eat less bread, but more.  It wasn’t going to be a year of boring bread.  

I had been thinking about sourdough for years, but every time I would read through a recipe and get to day five (!!!) I would get overwhelmed and run to the store to grab the most artisanal looking loaf I could find.  Let me tell you, any sourdough bread is amazing.  But homemade is better…SO much better!

My first starter began with a bit of King Arthur Flour’s fresh sourdough starter.  If you have a friend who can share, that is a great way to begin as well! 

My sourdough recipe is the perfect weekend project.  It requires about eight hours on day one (although most of that time is hands off) and a few hours on day two.  Don’t be scared by that!  All of the steps are simple and it is so worth it-by the end of the weekend you will have two delicious loaves of bread. 

step by step sourdough loaves

What you need:

Leaven

A leaven is the building block of this bread.  It begins with a small amount of sourdough starter and is fed with whole wheat flour and water.

Water

For best result, always use filtered water when making sourdough bread.  I have a Britta Water Filter Dispenser that I keep in my refrigerator-I top off a glass pitcher of water to store at room temperature for my daily starter feedings and submerge it in hot water so it’s at 80º F when I’m ready to start making bread.

Bread Flour

The bulk of this loaf is bread flour-the high protein content gives the bread a beautiful chewy texture.

whole-wheat flour

The whole-wheat flour is used in two ways.  First, it is used in the leaven to jump start the fermentation.  Whole-wheat flour contains more nutrients than all purpose or bread flour, so the yeast has more to eat.  Second, it lends a more robust flavor to the final bread.  

Salt

I use Mortons Coarse Kosher salt.  It takes a little time to work into the dough, but that isn’t a bad thing  If you are using a finer salt it will dissolve into the dough much faster.  

How to make the bread:

DAY ONE – making the sourdough

STEP 1

Mixing the leaven

The night before you begin, feed your starter so that it is refreshed and ready to build the leaven (about 8-12 hours ahead of time).  First, mix the starter and warm filtered water in a small bowl.  Add the flour and mix until there are no more dry lumps.  Cover and rest in a warm place for four hours.  The leaven is ready to use when it has doubled in size and the top is dotted throughout the surface with air holes.  

STEP 2

Mixing the dough

When the leaven is ready, make the bread dough.  In a large bowl, add the leaven and mix in 600 grams water.  Next, add in the two flours.  With your hands, mix together until there are no more dry bits of flour.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover, and rest for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle 18 grams of salt on the surface along with a little 1 tsp water and pinch the salt mixture into the dough.  Continue to mix until all of the salt is dissolved.  Cover again and rest in a warm spot for 4 hours of bulk fermentation.  

STEP 3

Bulk fermentation

While the dough in proofing, stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes.  With wet hands scoop one quarter of the dough from the bottom of the bowl, stretch upwards as far as it will naturally pull and then fold it back onto the center of the dough.  Rotate the bowl and repeat three more times, until all of the dough has been stretched.  Cover and place back in a warm spot to continue the proof.

STEP 4

Dividing the dough

After the four hours are up, the dough will have grown substantially and will have a very supple texture.  At this point, quickly scrape the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface with a bowl scraper.  Divide the dough in two with the bench scraper.  Starting with one half of the dough, bring the top, bottom, left, and right sides to the center-starting to form a ball.  Bring the remaining four corners to the center, tightening the shape.  Use the bench scraper to pick up the dough and flip over onto the seam.  Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

STEP 5

Shaping the dough

To form the dough into the final shape, flip it back over with a bench scraper.  Loosen the top and bottom corners to from more of a rectangular shape.  Pull the top edge of the dough towards the center, then bring a pinch from the left to the center, then the right to the center.  Overlap the dough as you work your way down, almost like you are braiding.  Starting at the bottom, roll the dough up into a log.  Use the bench scraper to swiftly slide the dough towards you with the goal of sealing the seam.  Sprinkle the top with flour, pick up from the board, and place seam side up into a well floured, lined proofing basket.  Cover with a cloth and plastic then place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

DAY TWO – baking the sourdough

STEP 6

Scoring

When you are ready to bake your bread, pre-heat your oven to 475º F.  About 20 minutes before baking, pre-heat your bread cloche (or dutch oven).  Just before the cloche is ready, pull one proofing basket from the refrigerator.  Flip the dough out onto a parchment paper round.  Sprinkle more flour on the top of the dough and gently massage into the surface.  Lightly score the decorations with a bread lame.  Quickly and confidently score one large slice from top to bottom at a 45º angle.  This will give the bread place to open and the angle will give the bread a tall ‘ear’.  Transfer the dough and parchment to the hot bread cloche or Dutch oven and immediately cover.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove the cover and lower the oven temperature to 450°F.  Bake for 10 more minutes, or the ideal color is reached.

Now for the hardest part…wait until the bread is completely cool before slicing!  I know, it is so tempting.  Once it is cool, it will have a thick crust and a tender interior with a beautiful open crumb signature tang!  Get baking!

 

Artisanal sourdough loaves recipe

Artisanal Sourdough Loaves

Step-by-step guide to making delicious sourdough loaves.
Prep Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Proofing/Fermenting Time: 1 day 8 hours
Course: Side Dish
Keyword: sourdough
Makes: 2 loaves
Author: Corey Grimsley

Equipment

  • Bread cloche or dutch oven

Ingredients

Leaven

  • 25 grams sourdough starter fed and still at peak
  • 50 grams whole-wheat flour
  • 50 grams water filtered, 80º F

Bread Dough

  • 125 grams leaven as prepared above
  • 600 grams water filtered, 80º F
  • 625 grams bread flour
  • 175 grams whole-wheat flour
  • 18 grams salt I use Mortons Coarse Kosher

Instructions

Day 1 - Making the Sourdough

  • Prepare the leaven. 
    Mix the starter and water in a small jar or bowl.  Add the flour and mix until there are no more dry lumps.  Cover and proof at 80ºF for four hours.  The leaven is ready to use when it has doubled in size and the top is dotted throughout the surface with air holes.
  • When the leaven is ready, make the bread dough
    In a large bowl, add the leaven and mix in 600 grams water.  Add in the two remaining flours and mix together until there are no more dry bits of flour.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover, and rest for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle 18 grams of salt on the surface along with a little 1 tsp water and pinch the mixture into the dough.  Continue to mix until all of the salt is dissolved.  Cover again and rest in a warm spot for 4 hours of bulk fermentation.  
  • Bulk fermentation.
    During the 4 hour bulk fermentation, stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes.  With a wet hand scoop one quarter of the dough from the bottom of the bowl, stretch upwards as far as it will naturally pull and fold it back onto the center of the dough.  Rotate the bowl and repeat three more times, so that all of the dough has been stretched.  Cover, put back in a warm spot to continue the proofing, and set a 30 minute timer for the next stretch and fold.
  • Dividing the dough.
    After the four hours are up, the dough will have grown substantially and will have a very supple texture.  At this point, quickly scrape the dough from the bowl onto a floured surface with a bowl scraper.  Divide the dough in two with the bench scraper.  Starting with one half of the dough, bring the top, bottom, left, and right sides to the center- starting to form a ball.  Bring the remaining four corners to the center, tightening the shape.  Use the bench scraper to pick up the dough and flip over onto the seam.  Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Repeat with the other half.
  • Shaping the dough.
    To form the dough into the final shape, flip it back over with a bench scraper.  Pull the top edge of the dough towards the center, then bring a pinch of dough from the left to the center and a pinch of dough from the right to the center.  Overlap the dough as you work your way down, like you are braiding.  Next, start at the bottom and roll the dough up into a log.  Use the bench scraper to swiftly slide the dough towards you and seal the seam.  Sprinkle the top with flour, pick up from the board, and place seam side up into a well floured, proofing basket.  Cover with a cloth and plastic and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Day 2 - Baking the Sourdough

  • Scoring and baking the bread.
    When you are ready to bake your bread, pre-heat your oven to 475º F.  About 20 minutes before baking, pre-heat your bread cloche (or dutch oven).  Take one of the loaves from the refrigerator and flip the dough out of the proofing basket onto a parchment paper round.  Sprinkle more flour on the top of the dough and gently massage into the surface.  Lightly score the decorations with a bread lame.  Quickly and confidently score one large slice from top to bottom at a 45º angle.  Transfer the dough and parchment to the hot bread cloche or Dutch oven and immediately cover.  Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove the cover and lower the oven temperature to 450°F.  Bake for 10 more minutes, or the ideal color is reached.

Notes

  • For best results, feed your starter 8 hours before making the leaven.
  • Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.  
Did you try this recipe?Let me know how it was!

 

 

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About me

Corey Grimsley

I’m an artist and art restorer who spends an equal amount of time in the kitchen. Follow along as I put an artisanal touch on all of my bakes!

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