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I learned how to make sourdough bread several years ago. I started out with an Alaskan Sourdough Starter Culture and got right to learning about sourdough bread.
Once one had a reliable starter they would maintain it constantly, sometimes throughout generations. Some of those starters still exist in the same families, hundreds of years later. That’s pretty cool as far as I’m concerned.
Sourdough is a very traditional bread. Some of today’s sourdoughs are not “true” sourdoughs as they have yeast added to make them rise quickly. Making sourdough in a traditional method with long rise times gives the dough time to ferment and do its job. The fermentation process causes the bread to be more digestible, more nutrient dense, and in my opinion, more filling.
The natural yeasts break down the gluten in the bread and many people with gluten intolerance can eat true sourdough without a problem. The fermentation also breaks down the sugars in the flour so they do not react so extremely with your blood sugar levels.
We have been enjoying this ever since I learned how to make sourdough bread. It tastes so good and is so much healthier than breads baked with commercial yeasts. This has been a great option for our family. I have been making bread 1-2 times a week. I refrigerate my sourdough starter in between bread days so I do not have to feed it as often.
I set it out to warm up and feed it 2-3 times before I’m ready to bake with it. I have been using organic unbleached flour most of the time with my starter. I bought my Alaskan Sourdough Starter and it requires the white flour for feedings. I have used fresh ground wheat with the starter for my bread but have found that it is a much stronger flavor and my family doesn’t particularly enjoy it. I will just stick with the white flour until I can work on making it milder with the whole wheat.
Update: Since writing this post, we have switched to using spelt wheat and will be making sourdough with it soon.
How to Make Sourdough Bread
My recipe and method for making sourdough bread.
(Note: I make 4 loaves at a time but this recipe could be halved for 2 loaves at a time)
I start out by mixing up my sponge which consists of 2 cups of active starter, 3 cups of room temperature water, and 6 cups of flour in a very large glass bowl. I mix this all together very well to be sure everything is incorporated. Let stand covered (I set mine in the unheated oven) for 2-8 hours. I usually stick to about 2 or so hours. When it is ready it should have expanded and be actively bubbling.
After the sponge is ready, I pour it into my mixer and add 2 tablespoons each sea salt and demerara sugar. I let that mix in and then slowly add 4 cups of flour. I allow this to knead in my mixer for 3-4 minutes. I oil the bowl (with olive oil or coconut oil) from the sponge and place my dough in the bowl, turning it to coat with oil. I allow this to stand loosely covered for 1-2 hours until almost doubled in size.
Once my dough is close to double in size, it is now ready to be formed into loaves and placed in the oiled loaf pans. This time, I allow it to rise 1-2 hours or until dough is about 1 inch above the bread pan at its peak.
I bake it in a pre-heated 450° oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. I found that in my oven I have to lower the rack to one level below the center rack in order to keep the tops of the loaves from cracking and getting too brown like in the photo below.
This may seem like quite the process but it really is simple. I just set my timer for each rise time and get other things done in between. I am so happy that we decided to start using sourdough all of the time. I hope you will try your own sourdough and share you progress with me!
- 2 Cups active sourdough starter
- 3 Cups warm water
- 10 Cups of flour (divided)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 TB demerara sugar
- Mix Sourdough starter, water, and 6 cups of flour thoroughly in large bowl. Allow to sit for 2-8 hours until actively bubbling. Pour sponge into mixing bowl, add sea salt and sugar. Slowly knead in remaining 4 cups of flour and continue to knead for 3-4 minutes. Place dough in well oiled bowl, turn to coat dough with oil. Set aside to rise for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size. Form dough into 4 loaves and place in oiled loaf pans. Set to rise 1-2 hours until dough is about 1 inch above the pan sides. Place in preheated 450º oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
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