I baked my first ever loaf of sourdough bread this past week and it surprisingly turned out really well! A few weeks ago when I ordered the Nigari for tofu making from Cultures for Health, I also ordered a few other things including a culture for San Francisco sourdough. This stuff is pretty neat; it comes in a little package with some really nicely designed instructions, and once you get it going you have access to an endless supply. I fished a nice jar out of the recycling at GIRO and started it up on my counter.
Here’s how you do it:
Add the packet of starter to 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon of water in a large jar and stir until totally mixed. Cover the jar with a coffee filter or folded layers of cheesecloth and leave it in a warm place for 12-24 hours. After 12-24 hours feed the starter with 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of water, again mixing thoroughly. Continue feeding the starter every 12-24 hours, with the next feeding being with 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of water. Stir vigorously.
The next feeding is with 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water but you first want to discard down to 1/2 cup of starter. Stir vigorously again. Repeat this every 12-24 hours until your starter is bubbly and happy.
After about a week you will want to keep feeding your starter using 1 part starter, 1 part water and 2 parts flour every 12-24 hours (I do it every morning). The instructions suggest you keep discarding down to 1/2 cup starter, but if you want to bake bread you need to build up the quantity so I didn’t discard any. You’ll need a large jar or tub by this point.
Once you have a large quantity of starter here’s the super easy recipe:
2 1/3 cup sourdough starter
3 1/3 cup white flour
1 to 1 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon salt
Mix the starter, flour and salt together. Add 1 cup of water and mix until you have a moist dough. If you need to add more water or flour you can play with the proportions.
Knead the dough for about 20 minutes until it passes the “window pane test” where a small piece of dough stretched between your fingers gets thin enough to see light through without tearing.
Shape the dough into a round or a loaf and place it in a pan, proofing basket, or on a board. (I put it in a pan greased with coconut oil). Cover the dough lightly with a clean towel and allow to proof/rise for 4-24 hours.
Once risen slice an X or a line in the top with a razor blade and bake at 400 deg. F. for 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of your loaf, until the internal temperature reaches 210 deg. F. (use a meat thermometer stuck into the side or bottom of the loaf). Allow to cool on a rack before slicing.
As you can see after 12 hours my dough had risen super high and spilled out of the pan. Next time if I use a pan I would divide it into two smaller loaves, or just make a single round on a board instead (I like this artisan style of bread better anyhow)
It turned out really well, it was light and fluffy inside and the crust was nice and firm. Not bad for my first loaf of bread!! I’m definitely looking forward to baking more of them.