Sourdough Bread Loaf- Easy and Efficient

This sourdough bread is delicious whilst keeping the method as simple as possible. It is flavourful with a delicious crust. With its tight crum it is the ideal sourdough bread for sandwiches. With some good planning you can even bake two loaves at once, making efficient use of the oven.  

After two lengthy posts now we can finally bake some delicious sourdough bread. Since I started baking sourdough I have tried to simplify the overall procedure. Most sourdough recipes are quite involved and create quite the mess, which I have reduced by using a stand mixer and skipping the autolyse stage. Honestly once you have developed the gluten well enough in the dough through kneading, it really does not make much of a difference. It also makes it easier to control the hydration rate of the dough, which can differ wildly depending on what type of flour you use. Often people also just bake a single loaf of bread at a time, which is not the most efficient use of the oven. I bake two big loaves at once. The following day I slice, portion and freeze the bread. This way I have bread for over a week before having to bake again.You can also use the method below to bake any bread with a sourdough starter instead of yeast. I have made baguette and burger/hot dog buns. The trick is just to get a feeling for the method and the ratios.

Unfortunately it is really hard for me to take photos when baking by myself because it is quite messy. Maybe eventually I figure out how to demonstrate the shaping and until then here are some resources to demonstrate what I was trying to explain.

How to Shape a Boule (weekendbakery.com)

How to Shape a Batard (theperfectloaf.com)

The Slap and Fold Method (theperfectloaf.com)

I have also gathered a lot of information on how to get started making sourdough bread in my last two blog posts.

Easy Sourdough Bread Guide Part One – From Scratch Sourdough Starter and the Benefits of Sourdough Bread

Easy Sourdough Bread Guide Part Two- Baker’s Percentages, Equipment, Proving and Sourdough Dictionary

Sourdough Bread

Yield: 1 loaf* Difficulty: 3/5 Time: 1 hour working time + proof time + 1 hour baking time

Ingredients:

  • sourdough starter (5%, 10% or 15%)**
  • 450 gr luke-warm water (60% hydration)***
  • 750 gr bread flour (wheat or spelt, can use part whole wheat)
  • 13 gr kosher salt (1.8%)

Instructions:

  1. Making the Dough: Mix the flour and salt in a bowl until well combined. In the bottom of the mixing bowl dissolve the sourdough starter in 350 gr luke-warm water and add the flour mixture. Begin kneading the sourdough with the dough hook attachment, adding the rest of the water as needed until a smooth and homogenous dough has formed. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and be a little tacky without being too wet. Keep kneading the dough for 7-10 minutes. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes before proceeding to slap and fold.
  2. Slap and Fold: Develop the gluten of the dough further by stretching one side of the dough and folding it over to the other side four times. Repeat this step all thirty minutes for 2-3 hours until it passes the window pane test (dough stretches until see through without tearing).
  3. Bulk Rise: Leave the dough to prove until it has visibly grown in volume. Don’t rely on it doubling in size but rather test whether the dough springs back when being poked. Well proven dough will spring back about halfway, if it bounces back fully it is under-proofed. If the indentation fully remains it is over-proofed.
  4. Shaping of the Dough: Preshape the loaf by lightly flattening out the dough and rolling it over itself. Let the dough relax for 30 minutes. Prepare a proving basket (or bowl) with a lined dish towel and flour it well. Shape the sourdough loaf on a lightly floured surface by stretching the dough out and folding in the sides and before folding in top and bottom. Stitch the seams together before flipping the dough over. Either with a bench scraper or your hands shape the dough into a round (boule) or oval (batard) shape. Flip the dough over and place it with the bottom up in the proving basket, sprinkle the top with some flour and fold the tea towel over. Let it prove for its final rise until it has grown in volume and it passes the proving test above. 
  5. Baking the Sourdough: Preheat the oven to 250°C with a Dutch oven (if you don’t have one you can bake it in a preheated baking dish or on a baking sheet) inside for 30-45 minutes. Flip the sourdough onto a piece of baking parchment and slash the top with a sharp knife. Transfer the dough into the Dutch oven with the help of the baking paper and put the lid back on. Bake it for 10 minutes at maximum heat before reducing the heat to 200°C. After 20 minutes remove the lid and keep baking for another 40 minutes until the crust has achieved the desired colour. Turn the oven off and open the oven door, let the sourdough bread cool inside the oven. Don’t slice the bread before it has fully cooled.

*By baking two oval loaves or one round and one oval loaf you can fit two loaves of bread into the oven at once. 

**Make sure to use your starter at peak after feeding. To check you can make the float test by putting one teaspoon starter into a bowl of water. If it floats your starter is ready to be used. You can use more or less starter depending on how much time you have, less starter equals a longer rise. The kitchen temperature also influences how fast or slow it will rise.

***You can add more hydration for sourdough loaf with a looser crum. Different types of flour have different hydration rates, so it is easier to hold some water back and add more as needed while kneading.   


So, there you have an easy recipe for sourdough bread. It is as easy as sourdough bread making can be. Once you’ve got the feeling for it it is as easy as baking any other bread. I guess for now we will take a little bread break because that was a lot longer than I had anticipated. I hope you enjoyed this post and have a great day. Stay safe and wear a mask!  

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