© 2013 Mel IMG_5151

Whole Wheat Sourdough

I can’t believe how little I’ve talked about bread on here! I actually adore it. Like, really love the whole bread-making process. Its kind of a little bit of magic. Yeastiness, fresh bread smell, the way every dough is a little different in how it feels and behaves. Ya. I’m a huge bread nerd.

Meet my sourdough starter! Look at the bubbles! Its so happy.

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Its been taking over my kitchen for the last few weeks. The difference between maintaining a starter at home and maintaining one in a bakery is that the one in the bakery is larger, therefore has a larger home and doesn’t try to escape, gets used more, and therefore doesn’t grow unnecesarily the way one at home does. Its been a bit of a messy experiment but worth it to be able to produce bakery style sourdough at home.

Yup, creating and making your own sourdough starter is a bit of work, but totally worth it!

Here’s what you need.

  • A kitchen scale. Measuring by weight is a bit essential here.
  • 250 g bread flour, for initial starter
  • 250 g water, at room temperature
  • 1500 g bread flour for “feeding”
  • a 2L container with a lid, or a medium bowl and some plastic wrap to cover. I tried this with a 1L container initially. What a mess. Get a 2L vessel. Trust me.

Okay, now you’re ready to grow some yeast!

Place the container that you plan to house your starter on the scale. Zero it and add 250 g bread flour and 250 g water. Give it a stir until it comes together. It will be goopy. Place the lid or plastic on (but not sealed, it needs air!) and leave for 24 hours at room temperature.

After 24 hours…..

Take 150 g of your starter and place it in a new container or bowl. Discard the rest. Add another 250 g water and 250 g flour to your starter. Give it a stir. Leave at room temperature.

After 12 hours…

Your starter should have little bubbles forming on top! That means its happy and growing! Repeat the process of 150g starter, 250 g water, 250 g flour

You’ll need to repeat the above process 6 times, every 12 hours until your starter is fully developed and ready to use.

Once it is fully developed, you’ll need to maintain your starter by feeding it every 24 hours. I know. High maintenance. But totally worth it!

If at any time you don’t plan on using your starter for an extended period of time, you can refrigerate it. At this time its still alive, just dormant. Then, when you want to use it again, just take it out of the fridge a day or two ahead (2 days is optimal, 1 day still works), feed it a couple of times and you’re good to go!

Okay, so now you’re ready to use your starter to bake delicious sourdough bread!!!

Whole Wheat Sourdough

Adapted from The Bouchon Bakery Cookbook 

  • 230 g Bread flour
  • 255 g Whole Wheat bread flour
  • 32 g Rye flour
  • 1/8 tsp instant yeast
  • 169 g sourdough starter
  • 322 g water at room temperature
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flours, yeast, sourdough starter, and water. Using the dough hook, mix on low until the dough is just combined and hydrated. Now cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to hang out in the bowl for 20 minutes. This is referred to as autolyse. During this time, the dough is hydrating and the yeast is starting to do its job, without the salt getting in the way. This will enhance the flavor of the finished bread!

2. After 20 minutes, sprinkle the salt over the dough and then knead on medium low speed for approximately 5 minutes, until the dough is nice and smooth and elastic. Transfer your dough ball onto a floured surface and knead it a few times to form into a round ball. Place it in a clean, lightly oiled bowl covered in plastic wrap for 3 hours.

3. At the end of the 3 hour fermentation stage, turn the dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead it a few times to get all of the air out, and at the same time, pull all of the corners in tight to form a nice smooth, round boule (aka a round ball of dough). Make sure you pinch all of the ends in tight! The boule should be smooth and round.

4. Take a clean tea towel and dust it quite heavily with flour. Now place it in a bowl that is large enough to give your boule room to grow and proof. Place your boule seam side UP in the bowl and cover with the towel. Let it proof in a warm place for about  2 hours.

5. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 460 F. I like to put a 9×13 pan on the bottom rack of my oven to act as a steam pan.

What does that mean? Fancy professional ovens have a steam function that releases steam into the oven after you put your bread in. The purpose of it is to keep the crust of the bread from forming too soon. Steaming delays the crust formation allowing the bread to rise, THEN the beautiful, crisp, brown crust forms LATER in the baking process. So, since I don’t have a fancy professional oven at home, I just preheat a pan in the oven, then throw about a cup of cold water into the pan immediately after putting the bread in the oven. This produces steam, just like in the professional ovens!

6. Once your oven is preheated and your loaf has proofed, turn the proofed loaf onto a sheet pan sprinkled lightly with cornmeal. Now, using a paring knife, score (aka make slashes approx 2 cm deep in the top of the loaf in a desired pattern). Here, I chose four separate slashes in a square border pattern to create the pattern you see on the top of the loaf. The slashes should be deep enough to allow steam to escape as the bread rises in the oven.

7. Place the loaf in the oven, pour about a cup of water into the steam pan and shut the oven door quickly! Bake for about 30 minutes, until the internal temperature of the loaf reads 200F, is nice and golden brown, and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom. Allow to cool slightly (if possible lol) before enjoying!

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One Trackback

  1. By Raisin Walnut Sourdough | freshly grated nutmeg on April 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    [...] *For details on how to make a sourdough starter see this post. [...]

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