Learn how to use your ripe Sourdough Starter to make this Basic Sourdough Bread. This beginner’s Sourdough Loaf is fail-proof and very simple to make!
As most of you are already aware, I made my Sourdough Starter successfully. Immediately after having a ripe starter, I was too excited to try out baking a bread and began looking for ways. I am still learning my ways with using sourdough starter. I wanted to try something very simple to begin with and made this Basic Sourdough Bread. As I started looking for recipes, the next confusion awaited me. I had 1/2 cup of ripe starter, but most recipes called for more than that. And if I used up all my starter, how do I save some for future use. I read extensively, going through many blogs, internet articles and then did something that seemed reasonable to me. Read on to know more.
How to increase the volume of your Sourdough Starter –
Before I share what I did, let me tell you that this has worked for me so far and I will continue to do follow this process for all my Sourdough experiments. I am no way claiming this to be authentic, just want to share this simple approach that worked for me. So, at the end of every feed I will have 1/2 cup of ripe starter. Obviously, I can’t use all of it for baking without saving any. I take off the usual 1/4 cup of discard from the starter but instead of adding it to the discard jar, I place it in a large glass bowl.
Now this 1/4 cup of ripe starter must be fed with equal amounts (1/4 cup) of flour & water. I covered it lightly with cling film and poked a few holes on top.
Within 4 hours, it had huge bubbles on top and doubled in volume. I had 1/2 cup ripe starter in the glass bowl.
I fed it with equal amounts of flour & water – this time 1/2 cup each. Mixed it without any lumps, covered it with lightly with kitchen towel (see the tape for marking the level).
This time I left it overnight, for more than 6 hours. By then, the starter began falling. You can see that from all those tiny bubbles and drop in volume around the bowl edges. This will make the bread slightly more sour than usual.
Now I had 1 cup ripe starter. For making any Sourdough Bread, it is always recommended to use Ripe – Fed Starter. If the Sourdough Starter is already falling, you can’t expect the bread to raise as much. So, I added flour & water ion equal measures – that is 1 cup each. I set the starter aside for 15-30 mins and yeast activity had already started. At the end of this, I had 2 cups of Ripe Fed Sourdough Starter. Since my original starter used Whole Wheat Flour, I continued to use the same for feeding all through the process. By the way, as I poured water, you can see that the starter floating – this is a good test to see if your starter is ripe.
Okay now that we know how to grow our starter, lets get on to this Basic Sourdough Bread recipe. When I started looking for beginner’s sourdough bread recipes, almost every recipe used commercial yeast along with the starter. As such sourdough could be an acquired taste for many. The bread is tangy and uses the natural yeast in the starter as the leavening agent. The sour taste of the bread itself comes from the healthy bacteria that grows in the starter. Since it is hard to generalize the starter consistency, potency and health, it is hard to provide a fail-proof recipe that just uses the sourdough starter and ensure same results. We use a small amount of commercial yeast in this Basic Sourdough Bread as recommended by King Arthur Flour and it has the right amount of tang to quality as Sourdough, raising beautifully.
Although I made my no-Knead Crusty White Bread as a Boule, I choose to make a loaf with the Basic Sourdough Bread. I wanted to use it for making sandwiches (recipe coming up soon) and a loaf seemed ideal. Considering my sourdough starter is based off of Whole Wheat Flour (Atta), I used all-purpose flour along with it making it 50%-50% whole wheat bread. I have made 100% whole wheat bread before and I must say that the texture of this sourdough loaf is unmatched. It has a very soft, loose crumb and a thin crust, making it perfect for toasts or sandwiches.
Look at this simple butter toast with homemade strawberry jam!
Here is another thing about bread making. If you want a soft, well-risen loaf of bread – you must work the gluten in the dough. All purpose flour has a lot more gluten than whole wheat flour. In this recipe of Basic Sourdough Bread, we use the starter + commercial yeast and there is definite guarantee that the bread will raise. To ensure that it is soft, it must kneaded for 15 minutes by hand at the minimum. Follow the kneading techniques that I mentioned in my White Sandwich Bread recipe. My hands are not the same anymore, so I ended up using my Kitchen-aid Stand mixer and I had to knead the dough for 7 minutes. Look at the raise!
When you go through the recipe, you will realize that there is no oil or butter in the dough and yet, it gets us fluffy, soft bread that slices beautifully. I drizzle off olive oil and lightly toast it before sprinkling some herbs, chilli flakes and grated garlic on top. Some parmesan cheese, if I want to indulge. It makes such a light snack to go with your tea/coffee!
The dough for this Sourdough Loaf is slightly sticky but it did raise double in volume within 40 mins. I shaped it and let it proof for another hour. As the bread rose for a couple of inches above the rim, I baked it. It resulted a golden delicious large loaf of bread that stayed well for over a week outside in an airtight container.
How to make Basic Sourdough Bread | Beginner’s Sourdough Loaf –
1 cup = 250ml, 1 tbsp = 15ml, 1 tsp = 5ml
Detailed step-wise picture recipe of making Basic Sourdough Bread | Beginner’s Sourdough Loaf –
In a large mixing bowl or your Kitchen-aid mixing bowl add all purpose flour, salt (I used pink Himalayan rock salt), sugar and active instant dry yeast.
Next add the 2 cups of ripe fed sourdough starter.
Roughly mix them and bring them together using your hand. If using stand mixer, use the dough hook and run it for a minute to bring it together.
Now add the luke warm water and knead the dough using your palm heals for 15 minutes at the least. If using stand mixer, run it on lowest speed for 7 mins. The dough will stick to the hook and the bottom of the mixing bowl.
Scrap out the dough and bring it together. Keep it covered for an hour to double up in volume.
In about an hour, the dough should have doubled up in volume. Grease the 10.5″x4″x4″ loaf pan with oil in the meanwhile.
Slowly punch it down and overturn it onto a floured kitchen counter.
Now gently fold it a few times and pat it flat approximately to the length of your loaf pan.
Start shaping the dough by folding the lengthy side that’s farther away from you, towards you.
Fold the shorter edges inward on both the sides.
Now fold the lengthy side that’s closer to you towards the center.
Pinch both the ends together sealing off the edges.
Carefully place the shaped loaf into the pan. If there are cracks on the top, adjust them by tucking the dough on the sides (I missed this step and hence some cracks on top) Add a few drops of oil to prevent the top from drying out.
Let the loaf proof for an hour or until it is doubled in volume, with 2 inches of the loaf above the rim of the bread loaf pan. Don’t let it over proof, as it might fall while baking.
In the last 15-20 mins of the loaf proofing, preheat the oven at 180°C. Place the bread loaf pan in the middle rack on bake mode for 35-40 mins at 180°C. In the last 5 mins, place it on toast mode to get some color on top. When the bread tin is tapped at the bottom, it should sound hollow – that’s the test to check if the bread is baked.
Remove the bread from oven and within 5 mins, invert it onto a wire rack.
Let it cool down completely for an hour or two before slicing the bread. Store the bread in an airtight container for 4-5 days outside or for over a week in fridge. Serve the bread toasted or as sandwiches.
- For all sourdough starter queries, refer to this detailed blog post by Anita.
- You can half the recipe to make a smaller loaf or shape it round to make a boule.
- Keep a close eye on the bread near the 30 min mark as all ovens are not the same and could vary in temperature or baking times.
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