This month’s theme with The Recipe Redux is “Bake Some Bread”! I bake all the quick breads in my kitchen but when it comes to the yeast breads, that’s my husband’s jurisdiction! And most of the time it is artisan sourdough!
There are just some things that my husband makes better than me and he enjoys making them. And to tell you the truth, if he wants to make them and I get to enjoy eating them, I kindly let him. Two of these things include his famous Super Hero Chili that you may already have tried and his mouth watering sourdough bread. Many years ago, he and I attempted to nurture a sourdough starter and did not succeed in keeping it alive but eleven years ago, our son gave my husband a starter for his birthday. And I am happy to share that he has keep it a live every since! If you don’t have access to a sourdough starter, you can make one and Maurizio from The Perfect Loaf has some great steps on how to create your own!
For ten years, my husband was perfectly content making his sourdough bread and with the mixer kneading it and adding lots of flour to it and we liked it just fine. It tasted really good but it didn’t have those big air holes that some of those sourdough breads had. It was a little dense sometimes. Then last summer my husband got to reading The Perfect Loaf blog and then he started kneading the dough less and the dough was very wet. He bought some special baskets, dish cloths and a big iron skillet with the lid. He also has borrowed one of my food scales and weighs instead of measures all of his ingredients. This new way of making bread was very foreign to me and I wondered after all of this time, why he was changing what he had been making it. And the first few times, did not always turn out how he intended but after the third time, he got the hang of it and now he makes some wonderful artisan, sourdough loaves. With that perfect chewy crust and those bubbles on the inside.
Here are some things that I learned from him while writing this post and also from a recent class that we attended here in Asheville at The Secrets to Sourdough Bread.
- If you keep the starter on the counter and use every day, it needs to be fed every day. However, my husband keeps his in the fridge so he does not have to feed it daily since he is only baking on the Sundays. He gets the starter out on Thursday morning and feeds it morning and night. Then he feeds it again Friday morning and night.
- So my question is: “How Do You Feed It?” He then said “Feed it equal parts of flour and water”. Which for him is 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water.
- Then on Saturday he makes his “levain” with 60 grams of his sourdough starter, 60 grams of flour and 60 grams water. Then he mixes and shapes the dough which is very wet. Then he puts his cotton dish cloth in his proofing basket. Adds the dough and then covers them with them with the cloth. He then adds one of my mixing bowls on top of it. He puts them in the fridge and lets it rest there overnight.
- Another question that I have for him: “Why do you have sourdough that you need to get rid of? And how do you know that it is time to get rid of it?” His answer “When you feed your starter and your container gets too full, you need to either throw away some or find another place to recycle it”
- “Why do you need the skillet with the lid?” My husband “Because it makes steam”. Maurizio from The Perfect Loaf explains why you need some steam to make that perfect sourdough bread.
Making bread this way takes more time but it has been a great project for him and I wanted to share with you the steps that he takes to make the bread in case you are interested in trying to make it yourself. And he was very gracious to share one of his recipes with me to give you and since his mom has named him after a well-known super hero, I had to name it:
Super Hero Sourdough Bread
My husband has several recipes that he uses with his sourdough starter, here is one of his more recent creations.
Makes 2 large round sourdough loaves
943 grams flour
720 grams water (flour selection is very important, you can read more about flour selection for your sourdough bread here)
18-20 grams salt
160 grams of levain (sourdough starter-See question number 3 above to see how to make it.)
Rice flour for shaping
My husband uses the 10 inch cast iron Dutch oven method to bake and provide the bread steam
About 8 hours before you build your dough, make your levain in very large plastic bowl. Cover it with plastic and allow it to get to room temperature. ( The Perfect Loaf has some great tips about temperature and sourdough bread making).
When the levain is bubbly and active, add water and stir. Add flour, salt and mix with your hand on a lightly floured counter until it is moist and no lumps remain. Allow it to “bulk proof” for about 3-4 hours and fold every 3-4 hours.
After the dough has gone through the bulk proofing, (the dough should be almost double what it was when you first made it) place onto a lightly floured surface and divide into half and shape into loaves. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest again for about 30 minutes.
Place the loaves into the proof baskets that have had the cotton dish cloth added that has been sprinkled with a little rice flour. Sprinkle the top with a little bit of rice flour and then wrap the top of the dish cloth over the towel. You can also add an additional piece of plastic wrap but as I mentioned this is where my husband adds those big mixing bowls and allows the bread to refrigerate for 8-12 hours overnight.
To bake the next morning. Get the first loaf out and allow it to be at room temperature. While it is doing that, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and place the Dutch oven in there and heat for 20 minutes with the lid on. Cut parchment paper bigger than the loaf but small enough to fit just enough to go over the sides of the Dutch oven and would be enough to grab onto to pull the loaf out of there. Sprinkle with rice flour before adding the loaf.
Carefully score (cutting a long slash across the top of the loaf) with a sharp knife. When the Dutch oven has been in there 20 minutes. With plenty of hot pads, carefully remove the lid of the Dutch oven and place the bread in the bottom. Add the top back on the top and bake for 20 minutes at 500 degrees which would be with steam. Carefully remove the top of the lid and allow the bread to bake another 25-35 minutes at 450 degrees. (at this time he takes out the other loaf out of fridge and starts the whole parchment with the rice flour and scoring steps all over again. See above).
My husband carefully takes the bread out by the parchment paper with plenty of pot holders and allows it to cool on a baker’s rack.
At this time, he puts the lid back on there and heats the Dutch oven again for 20 minutes at 500 degrees. Then it will be time to bake that second loaf.
Here are some other great resources to help get you started making your first loaves of sourdough bread:
A book that my husband also has learned a lot about his new technique includes a book Classic Sourdough by Ed and Jean Wood
I also like the guidelines from Emma Christensen from the Kitchn and my friend Maia who is a baker recently shared a lovely book called Sourdough by Sarah Owens which has some great ideas on how to use that little bit of leftover sourdough that could not make it back into the container.
I hope that some of this post help uncover the mysteries of making sourdough bread and that you may be enticed to give it a try or maybe if your significant other can make it for you! I am a registered dietitian nutritionist living in Asheville, NC and I love to share recipes to make living a richer experience (even when I share someone else’s recipe with permission). This recipe takes a little bit of time but if you are looking for authentic sourdough bread, this is the way to make it! You can also find a lot of great recipes from my friends with The Recipe Redux at the link below: