Ben Starr

The Ultimate Food Geek

Simple Sourdough (old)

I don’t recommend this method any longer! I have devised an easier and more efficient method, so please USE THIS RECIPE. But if you like extra work, and a higher electricity or gas bill, you can use this older method.

Questions? Problems? Check this out!

The Dutch oven I use most often to bake this bread

(Note that this is an obscure brand and rare size, Amazon often runs out. The most important factor is the 4 quart size, so search for a 4 quart cast iron Dutch if this link doesn’t lead to a product that’s in stock. I prefer one that is raw cast iron on the interior, and those are even harder to find, but one that is fully enameled will also work just fine.)

My baking scale of choice.

Flour sack towels.

The oven gloves I love.

My Kitchen Toys!

I’m an Amazon affiliate. If you buy something from my links, I’ll get a few cents. Thanks!

The Recipe

In a large bowl, mix:

  • 4 oz (113g) sourdough starter at 100% hydration (No need to feed first. 100% hydration means you normally feed your starter with equal weights of flour and water)
  • 12 oz (340g) (ideally filtered) water (not warm)

Stir until the starter is fairly evenly mixed into the water. Then add:

  • 1 lb 4 oz (567g) flour (bread flour, unbleached, or All-Purpose. You may substitute up to 8 oz whole wheat/rye flour, and if you do, increase the water by 1 oz)
  • 3/4 oz (21g) non-iodized salt

Stir until all dry flour is gone. Ideally, knead for 10-15 seconds to bring mixture into a cohesive mound. Cover and rise 12-24 hours on countertop, or rise in oil-sprayed ziploc bag. Once dough has doubled in size, shape into loaf. Don’t worry about shaping it the INSTANT it reaches double! It can sit there for 4 or 5 hours after doubling without any harm. (If starter was recently fed, doubling will happen in as little as 12 hours. If starter was not recently fed, it may take a full 24 hours, or perhaps longer.

If your dough is too wet and sticky to handle, your starter is too wet. Discard all but 2 ounces of starter, feed with 4 ounces flour and 4 ounces of water, sit for 1 hour at room temp, then refrigerate. The next day, repeat this step. This will bring your starter closer to the 100% hydration rate that works for this recipe.)

Shape into loaf. If baking in loaf pan, let dough rise in oiled loaf pan. If baking in Dutch oven, let dough rise in a bowl of similar size to the Dutch oven, lined with soft cloth that has been heavily floured. (At this point, dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days for convenience or flavor development. If chilling, pull dough from fridge and let rest at room temp for 3-4 hours before baking, for best results.)

After shaping, rise 2-4 hours, or until double. (It’ll take longer if your starter wasn’t recently fed.)

About an hour before baking, preheat oven (with Dutch oven inside, if using) at 500F/260C with the rack on the 2nd-to-lowest position.

Score dough and carefully transfer into hot Dutch oven. Immediately turn temp down to 425F/220C. Bake in loaf pan 35 minutes, or in Dutch oven 30 minutes covered, 15 minutes uncovered, or until deeply browned. (Internal temp should be between 205F and 210F if you use a thermometer.) Cool fully before slicing.

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