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how to make sourdough bread

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www.thatsusanwilliams.com
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Servings: 2

Cost: $8.29 /serving

Ingredients

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Instructions

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Step 1

MAKE THE SPONGE: With a half of a cup of bubbly, fully refreshed starter (that was last refreshed no more than 12 hours earlier), you're going to make the "sponge". In a bowl, with at least a 1 quart capacity, stir together the 1/2 c. (4 1/2 ounces) of starter with 1/2 c. filtered water, until fully combined. Then stir in 1 c. (5 oz.) flour. The mixture will be like super-thick, lumpy pancake batter. Lumps are OK, in other words. Cover bowl with plastic, and let rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours.

Step 2

MAKE THE DOUGH: Add water and sponge to the bowl of a standing mixer. Using a dough hook, with mixer running at lowest speed, add the flour, 1/2 of a cup at a time. Once all flour has been added in, continue to mix until dough forms a ball, and then let the mixer run one minute longer. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and allow dough to rest for 20 minutes.

Step 3

KNEAD THE DOUGH: Using your fingers, make a little pocket in the dough and add the salt to that pocket. Knead dough on low speed until it is smooth, soft, and moist, about 5 minutes. You are going to love the way the dough feels: just like a baby's behind! Transfer dough to clean work surface and knead for a minute by hand, until dough forms a firm ball.

Step 4

LET THE DOUGH RISE: Spray a 4qt. capacity bowl with non-stick cooking spray and place dough in bowl. Then spray top of dough with cooking spray as well, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand until dough doubles in size, 3-5 hours.

Step 5

STRETCH AND FOLD THE DOUGH: Scrape dough out onto clean work surface. Gently stretch dough to redistribute and refresh yeast, as far as you can, without tearing it, and then fold dough into thirds, like a letter.

Step 6

DIVIDE AND SHAPE THE LOAVES: Using a bench scraper or a knife, divide dough in half. Each piece should weigh about 1 1/2 lbs. Form each half into a ball or an oval, depending on the shape of the loaf you want, and cover with plastic wrap, allowing the dough to relax for 15 minutes. Continue to form the shape you want, and place each loaf seam side down on a separate sheet of parchment paper. I place them each on top of an upside down jelly roll pan, spray each loaf with cooking spray, and cover with plastic wrap.

Step 7

REFRIGERATE THE LOAVES OVERNIGHT: Place the cookie sheet with the loaves on parchment paper, covered in plastic wrap, in the refrigerator overnight, between 8-12 hours.

Step 8

PROOF THE LOAVES: Remove the loaves from the refrigerator and from off the jelly roll pan, and place on the kitchen counter. Loosen plastic wrap slightly and let rise until doubled in size, for 3-4 hours, being sure that loaves are at least 6" apart. After 3 hours, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position, and place pizza stone/baking stone on rack. Preheat oven to 500º. Slide loaves one at a time onto upside down jelly roll pan. (You can use a baker's peel for this if you have one, but I don't.) Using a knife tip held at a 45º angle, slash surface of loaves, two or three times, about 1/2" deep. Working quickly, spray the surface of the loaves with water.

Step 9

BAKE THE BREAD: Slide the parchment paper and the loaves of bread onto the baking stone. Immediately close the oven door, and lower the oven temperature to 450º. Set the timer for two minutes. Quickly open the oven door when the timer goes off, and spray the loaves with water, being careful not to spray the oven light, which could shatter. Close the oven door, and set the timer for two more minutes. Open the oven door and spray the loaves one last time, closing the door quickly. Set the timer for 25 minutes. Bake until deep golden brown. (If you want to be sure your bread is done, you are looking for an internal temperature of 210º with an instant read thermometer, but I have found that the exterior color of the crust is a good guide.) Bread will need an approximate 30 minutes total in most ovens, but keep an eye on things, since your mileage may vary, depending on your oven. Remove bread (and parchment paper) from oven, and transfer the loaves without the parchment paper to a cooling rack. Bread takes around 2 hours to cool, at which point you can cut it more easily, without squishing it or tearing it. Good luck waiting that long.

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