Is there any better smell than fresh baking bread?
I can not get enough! I’ve been living off of sourdough bread and tea the last week. Not the most well rounded diet by any means, but with a slight cold and no husband to cook for, this week’s menu is S-I-M-P-L-E!
I do make try and provide the young one some solid meal options, but he loves warm bread as much as his mama, so throw in some cucumber and cheese slices, and you’ve got a happy boy.
This round of sourdough baking has been going exceptionally well in comparison to the flatter or harder/ or denser loaves I’ve made in the past few months. The art of sourdough is truly an art of experience; the more I’ve baked the more I’ve encountered some very subtle hacks and mishaps.
So this is truly baking with love. Want to try?
Step 1: Prep that Starter!
-feed your active start the day or at least the night before you plan on working your dough. Drain off all of the liquid in your starter except one cup, then stir 1/2 of distilled water and 1/2 cup of flour (staying consistent with the type your starter is made with-wheat, spelt, unbleached, whatever). Make sure to use a wooden spoon or your hands-no metal (it prohibits bacterial growth, which we want in this fermented bread).
Step 2: Work that Dough!
-The next day, when your starter is bubbly and ready to roll, dissolve 2-3 tablespoons of starter into 3 cups of water. Pour this water/starter mixture into 6 cups of flour in a plastic or glass bowl, and work mixture with wooden spoon or your hands until a shaggy, biscuit-like dough is formed. Let this sticky bowl of love sit for about thirty minutes so the flour has time to be completely saturated, then add in 2-4 tablespoons of salt (depending of preference).
-For the next 3 hours, stretch and fold the dough to allow the gluten strands to build and stretch and encourage air into the dough. Use wet hands to avoid dough sticking all over you. From the bottom, lift dough, stretch it upwards, then fold it over the dough ball, for all four sides, making a rounded package of dough after each folding. Do this about every half hour during the 3 hour period (or whenever you can get to it if you are chasing a baby/husband/dog/career around. Then let it sit until you get enough time to clear a space to flour and work the dough (1-17 hours later).
Step 3: Shape Those Loaves!
-Once the dough is a bit bubbly again, wipe down some counter space and flour a 2 foot radius. Sprinkle flour around the edge of the dough and your hands, then work the dough carefully out of the bowl and onto the counter. Then sprinkle a line of flour down the center of the massive dough bowl, marking where you will separate the dough into two loaves. Use a wooden spatula or dough cutter if you’re fancy, to separate dough into two loaves.
-Now that there are two loaves, work additional flour carefully into the dough by gently turning and rolling the dough until it is a glossy, not sticky consistency and doesn’t completely melt out of shape in your hands.
-Let the dough rest in floured cheesecloth or dish towels inside of two colanders or baskets (to let air flow), but if you’re in a pinch, just use any pan to help it hold shape. Wrap both loaves in plastic bags and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
Step 4: Bake that Bread!
-Crank the oven as high as it can go (500? 550?) and throw your dutch oven in there to warm up for 20 minnutes. Once the Dutchie is warm, remove one loaf from the fridge and gently turn out the cool dough onto the warm cast iron. cut a slit in the top of the dough with knife or scissors (to vent the steam) put the lid back on the Dutch oven and bake for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, remove the lid and bake the bread for another 15 minutes.
-Repeat this process (including the high temp preheating of the Dutch oven) for the other loaf.
Step 5: Bask in your Awesomeness and Smells of Comfort
-Look at you, you badass little homemaker you.