Excited to try making my first loaf from the sourdough starter, I researched, read articles and watched various YouTube channels on how to make a loaf of sourdough bread. This process isn’t for the faint of heart. It can take 5 to 7 days to make a starter… or more. (see my previous post). Once your starter is ready, you are ready to make your loaf of delicious sourdough bread.
Bread making isn’t a plop all the ingredients and hit a button. Ok. Ok. It can be with a breadmaker. But if you want to make healthier bread, bread that is actually good for you, you do it by hand. Sourdough is that bread. The one that actually has health benefits. But… that isn’t what this is about. If you want to find out more about the benefits, please click here.
Now onto the bread making.
I was following this recipe from Vita Lives Free. The video on YouTube was easy to follow as she gave very detailed instructions. http://vitalivesfree.com/foolproof-sourdough-bread-recipe/
Sourdough takes two days to make. Day one is spent proofing and kneading and day two is baking. For those of you afraid of kneading for hours, it really isn’t a concern. The most kneading you do in one go is maybe ten minutes. The rest of the time is a stretch and folds that you do in 30-minute intervals, four times. Then if still needed, every 60 minutes till your dough is 30% larger. Then you pop it into the fridge for 12 hours for the final proofing. Since sourdough is made with natural or wild yeast, the proofing stage is much longer.
(not my photo, I forgot to take a picture)
I have to admit that my first time doing all the steps, I felt clumsy, especially with the knead and fold and then the tension and forming. It was my first time and with practice, I will get better. I ended up doing the first 4 times 30 minute intervals and then 3 times 60-minute intervals. I followed what the video said and did it till the dough felt right to me. (baking bread is all about going with your gut) I then put it in the fridge for about 12 hours.
Before baking, I did the poke test and felt it spring back the right way. I preheated the Dutch Oven, put in the dough and let it bake for the first 20 minutes. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit stressed out. What if there was no oven spring. When I went to take the lid off the Dutch Oven, I was actually holding my breath. But… you know what… it sprang! I literally jumped and down. I cooked it for another 20 minutes and took it out to cool.
Cutting in I noticed a few things. The crust is a bit tougher than I thought it would be, however, reading forums (http://www.thefreshloaf.com/), this seems normal. Next, I noticed large holes in a few places and the dough is a bit shiny in places. Again, not out of the ordinary and is due to the proofing time or using a bit too much water. I will work this out, it is all about practice. I think going forward, I am going to keep a bread making diary and keep notes, this way I will be able to come up with a perfect formula that works for me.
I am also working on a flour mix of bread flour, whole wheat flour, and rye flour. Once I have that formula down I will do another blog post with the full recipe, including my own technique. Once I have basic sourdough baking down, I am going to attempt sprouted flours, which has been a goal for a while now. We have been buying Ezekial bread because it is healthier, but in my quest to make everything from scratch, I want to eliminate that as well. Once I have sourdough bread baking aced, I am moving onto fermented Vegan cheese and vegan butter.