The origin of bread has been a difficult thing to nail down. Afterall, every culture eats bread in one form or another. Sourdough is most likely one of the first risen breads due to the natural fermentation process of yeast collected from the air. The oldest sourdough bread was found in Switzerland in 3700 BC. Now, sourdough is sold throughout grocery stores with brand names such as Sara Lee and Panera bread but not all are true sourdoughs. Some ingredient lists do not include a starter. One piece of culture that speaks to the core of Feasting on Fusion is the French impression on the San Francisco bread. Sourdough was brought during the Gold Rush and now SF has amazing bakeries such as Boudin Bakery.*
I truly believe that made-from-scratch sourdough is a gratifying art form and the time put in to learn it, purchase the correct tools and make it are worth it.
Total Time: Many hours
- pastry scraper
- plastic wrap
- 1 large bowl
- bread peel
- bread couche
- scale (grams)
- water spritzer
- lame or razor blade to allow release of steam in dough while baking
- 3 qt dutch oven (or whatever size you have)
- Note: the size depends on how many loaves you will make with this recipe
- 150g sourdough starter (see my recipe) + 2 tbsp water (if your starter is thick)
- 500g water
- 575g all purpose flour
- 87g whole wheat flour
- 38g wheat gluten
- 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp salt + 25g water mixture
- Olive oil (for rubbing on the pastry scraper)
- Extra all-purpose flour for flouring surfaces & couche
Leave out discarded starter for 24-72 hours in room temp (70-75 F)
Mix starter + water, flour, wheat gluten, yeast and sugar together until shaggy dough forms. Scrape sides to form wet, shaggy, loose dough.
Take your 1 tbsp of salt + 25g of water and mix and let sit.
Let this dough sit at room temp for 4 hours, covering the top of the bowl in plastic wrap. It should look like this after:
Pour your salt water mixture over your dough.
Now, every 30 mins for 2.5 hours, fold your dough clockwise 4 times. This will be a total of 5 times that you are folding your dough. Make sure to cover in plastic wrap again after each folding session. It should look tighter and smoother as you fold. Once done, it should look like this:
Let dough rise for 30 minutes, covered in plastic wrap. It should look larger, but not double.
Get your bread peel and flour the surface. Slide your dough onto it and flour the top of the dough. This would be the time to evenly divide your dough into how many loaves you want to make. I typically make 2-3 small ones but it can also depend on what will fit inside your dutch oven.
With your oiled pastry scraper, shape dough by slipping scraper under the edge of the dough and pull the bottom edge to the center and do for all sides.
Let rest for 20 minutes, covered in plastic wrap.
Prepare the couche(s) while you wait. Make sure to flour the couche heavily (more than you think you will need) so that the dough does not stick to the couche once it is time to overturn it into the dutch oven.
Shape the loaves again using the pastry scraper. Transfer to couche. Make sure to dust all sides of the dough with flour, even the top. Cover with plastic wrap.
Let rise for 3 hours in room temp or in fridge for 8+ hours. They will rise.
Heat oven to 500°F with the dutch oven inside.
Transfer the loaf to the dutch oven, seam-side down.
Score with the lame (at least 1 large cut in center).
Put the lid back on and put the dutch oven back in, and shut the oven door. Let bake at 500°F for 20 minutes.
Then, lower the oven temperature to 450°F for 10 minutes. This is a good time to lift the lid and spritz a couple of times on the top of the dough and put the lid back on. This ensures a hearty, crunchy crust.
Then, bake at 450°F for 15 minutes without the lid.
Check to make sure the bread is done by knocking on the bottom. It should sound hollow.
Transfer to a cooling rack and wait until room temperature to cut into them.
Where should I buy these ingredients?
We get our whole wheat flour locally from Carolina Ground Flour in Asheville, NC. Our all-purpose is either the King Arthur’s brand or Trader Joe’s.
If you want to try good sourdough first, I recommend finding a highly rated French bakery near you and tasting their bread and ask where they source their flour from.
How many does it serve?
Makes 2 medium sized loaves in a 3 qt dutch oven
What does this pair well with?
Literally anything you want to eat bread with
How long can it last?
This bread is meant to last a week and then you should be using your discarded starter each week to be making bread! Why waste such a beautiful thing?