Bread-making was always so intimidating to me thanks to the intensive "Bread week" on The Great British Baking Show. Plus, I have been gluten-free since 2012, so "regular" bread was out of the picture for a long time. Thankfully, I discovered that long-fermented sourdough bread contains wild yeast that breaks down the gluten in bread, which means that I could eat it! In 2020 I decided to give sourdough bread a go, and haven't looked back since. Bread making has become somewhat therapeutic, a fun challenge and skill to learn, and a delicious way to creatively express myself.
For those of you who have not been raised in a home where you grew up cooking or baking from scratch, welcome to the club. You might have a very real fear of baking or cooking, but this is truly worth learning. What better time to try than now? Let's jump into it!
Note: I do not include making your own starter in this recipe. However, this is a very short explanation of how to feed your starter once you have one.
3-6 hours before you will be making your bread dough, feed your starter with 60 grams (1/4 cup) of water and 60 grams (1/2 cup) of all-purpose flour in a mason jar (combine it with a fork or spatula until completely mixed). Your starter should get bubbly and double in size, and it should have a fresh yogurt-like smell. Your starter is now "active" and ready to use in a recipe. You will repeat this process of "feeding" your starter after each time you use it in a recipe, so make sure to always keep a little bit of your starter for the next batch. I have included feeding your starter in the recipe as well.
There are many different sourdough bread recipes out there, but this is the one I have landed on that works best in my kitchen.
High Hydration, Long-Fermented Sourdough Bread Recipe
50 g starter
375 g filtered water, warmed slightly
500 g organic unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour
10 g sea salt
Two bowls, or one bowl and one proving basket
2-4 Clean tea towel or dish towels
Parchment paper that can withstand 450 degrees
Knife or bread Lame (scoring blade)
Directions Feed your Starter: about 3-4 hours before starting your dough, add 60 g (1/4 cup) water and 60 g (1/2 cup) flour to your starter with a clean fork. Cover and let rest for a couple of hours until it’s bubbling and double in size.
Making the Dough: Add 50 g (1/2 cup) starter 375 (1 1/2 cups) grams of warm filtered water to a bowl. Mix to combine using a fork or dough whisk. Add 500 g (around 2 cups) organic unbleached all-purpose flour or 10 grams (1 ¼ tsp) salt to the same bowl. Combine with a fork, dough whisk or your hands until it resembles a shaggy dough. Cover with a clean towel for 1 hour and let rest. Stretch and Fold: Stretch and fold every 30 minutes for a total of 4 times over the next 2-2.5 hours (to see how to do this, watch here). Cover with a clean damp towel. If you dip your hands in a little bit of water before stretching and folding, it keeps the dough moist and from sticking. At this point the dough should firm up a little bit and have a nice gluten structure.
Bulk Rise: Let your dough rest for 8-10 hours in the bowl on the counter or in a warm space. Cover with a clean damp towel.
Pre-shape: Before bed or in the morning after the bulk rise, pre-shape your dough after it’s risen about 30-50% by stretch and folding into a ball. Then in a proving bowl or regular bowl with a flour-covered towel inside, place your dough. Cover with another clean towel and let sit for another 30 minutes. Put in the fridge for a couple of days.
Long-Fermentation Rise in Fridge: For the longer fermentation process to eliminate 97% of gluten, keep your floured bowl or proofing basket in the fridge for 48-72 hours. You will want to cover with a damp towel to avoid dry/crusty dough, and after 24 hours I like to put a plastic bag around it for extra insulation. (Look at the ingredients for what I mean by oven bags). Preheat: After 72 hours (my preference), preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and preheat your Dutch oven inside the oven for 30 minutes before baking your bread.
Last Rise and Scoring: As the oven is preheating, take out your dough from the fridge and place the dough onto parchment paper. Score the top of the dough using a sharp knife or bread Lame with any design (such as an X, a ( or a + ) which will allow for the bread to expand as it goes in the oven.
Bake: When the Dutch oven is pre-heated, place the dough/parchment in the Dutch oven and cover with the Dutch oven lid. Bake for 20 minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, uncover your bread, place a cookie sheet underneath the Dutch oven (to prevent the bottom of the bread from becoming too dark) and reduce temp to 450 uncovered for 15 more minutes. Once your bread is cooked and has a nice desired color on top, remove it from the Dutch oven to sit on jus the parchment paper/counter and let cool for 1 hour before cutting into it. Enjoy!
Note: if you do not need your bread to be up to 95% gluten-free, you can always bake your bread immediately after the Bulk Rise or anytime within 3 days.
This recipe is adapted from recipes by Emilie Raffa, Michael Greenfield, and Carrie Vitt. Buy Emilie Raffa’s book called Artisan Sourdough Made Simple here on Amazon.