Sourdough bread made at home (natural yeast)
Read to be baked!
Making bread with natural yeast, also known as sourdough, is a rewarding and traditional process. Natural yeast is a mixture of flour and water that captures wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria from the environment. This yeast mixture also called a "starter" or "levain" is used as the leavening agent in sourdough bread. Here's a basic step-by-step guide on how to make bread with natural yeast at home:
- 1 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour (for the starter)
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water (chlorine-free)
- A kitchen scale
- A clean glass or plastic container with a lid
- A kitchen thermometer
- Additional flour and water for the bread dough
- Salt (for flavor)
Day 1: Creating the Starter
- In a clean glass or plastic container, mix 1/2 cup of lukewarm water (around 80-85°F or 27-29°C) with 1/2 cup of all-purpose or whole wheat flour. Mix until you have a thick, smooth paste.
- Cover the container loosely with a lid, cloth, or plastic wrap. Let it sit at room temperature (around 70-75°F or 21-24°C) for 24 hours.
Day 2: Feeding the Starter 3. After 24 hours, check the starter. It should have some bubbles and a slightly sour aroma.
- Discard half of the starter (about 1/2 cup). Then, add 1/2 cup of lukewarm water and 1/2 cup of flour. Mix well, cover, and let it sit at room temperature for another 24 hours.
Days 3-7: Continue Feeding 5. Repeat the feeding process (discarding half and adding equal parts water and flour) daily for several days, or until your starter becomes active. It may take anywhere from 3 to 7 days for your starter to be ready. You'll know it's ready when it consistently doubles in size within 4-6 hours of feeding, is bubbly, and has a pleasant, tangy aroma.
Making the Bread: 6. To make the bread, combine 1 cup of the active starter with about 3 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water. Add 1-2 teaspoons of salt for flavor.
- Knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic. Let it rise in a covered bowl at room temperature for 4-12 hours or until it has doubled in size.
- Shape the dough into a loaf, place it in a well-floured proofing basket or bowl, and let it rise for another 2-4 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F (232°C) with a cast-iron Dutch oven or a baking stone inside.
- Once the oven is hot, carefully transfer the risen dough into the hot pot or onto the hot stone. Score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.
- Bake with the lid on for 20-30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing.
Remember that sourdough baking can be a bit of trial and error, and it may take a few attempts to perfect your technique. Enjoy the process, experiment with different flours and techniques, and soon you'll be baking delicious sourdough bread at home.