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I have been making this super simple bread recipe for almost 10 years now.
When I first started out with sourdough it was very hard to find instructions on how to use it to bake bread.
I had to learn how to make a good loaf on my own through trial and error. We are all so lucky now that there is so much information about it online these days.
I love that sourdough is made with simple whole ingredients.
It takes less then ten minutes to mix up, and since I use a starter that I bought from Cultures for Health, it rises fairly fast.
All you need is your starter, flour, water and salt but I like to add in a little bit of fat.
Fats such as olive oil or butter add a nice texture to the finished bread. You can use any other fat like coconut oil, or a lard. We prefer to stick to simple healthy fats and avoid fats like Canola oil. Healthy fats are a topic for another day.
It is worth noting that you will likely have to tinker with it just a little depending on your elevation, humidity, and starter strain.
1/2 cup starter
3 cups flour- we like organic unbleached white flour
1 cup filtered water
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil or butter
I mix my bread dough in a stand mixer.
I am not patient enough to mix it by hand. However you can knead it by hand if you don’t have an electric mixer with a dough hook. I know a lot of people who use a Bosch mixer and I have a Kitchen Aid.
Put all the ingredients in the mixer with the dough hook and mix until it becomes a smooth ball of dough.
Sourdough is a living breathing food and it responds to the temperature, and moisture in the air. Sometimes you will mix up this bread dough and it will be wet and sticky and you will have to add up to 1 cup more flour. Other times you will mix it up and it will be very firm and dry and you will have to add a tad more water.
You have to work with your starter to discover its subtle changes and learn how it works.
I prefer a stiff dough that holds its shape on the baking sheet. You achieve that with more flour then water when you are mixing it up. If you do feel like you need to add either flour or water, add them in slowly, just a little bit at a time. Keep in mind that most Kitchen Aid stand mixers have limits on how much flour you can use in a recipe to keep the motor from burning out.
Once your dough is mixed to a consistency you like, finish kneading it on the counter for 30 seconds and smooth it out into a ball.
Slash the dough across the top several times (score it) with a knife about 1/4 inch deep. place your dough on a cookie sheet. We use stoneware but any kind will work. Grease a large piece of Saran Wrap to cover it and let is raise for several hours. I normally spray my Saran Wrap with coconut oil.
Some people let their sourdough raise overnight.
If you have made your own starter from scratch you might need to have longer rising times since the starter may not be as vigorous. My stater will take 4-6 hours to rise depending on the season. I bought it here. If the dough is cracking it is falling and you need to bake it right away.
Once the dough has doubled in size put it in the cold oven and set it to 350 degrees.
Let the oven heat up with the bread inside so it evenly heats the dough and the baking sheet. When you put the bread in the oven uncover it and set the timer for 50 minutes.
Bake the bread until it is evenly browned.
This takes between 40 and 45 minutes (plus another 5 to heat the oven). The bread will rise a little more in the oven as it bakes.
You might be wondering why we use the unbleached white flour.
In our family the white flour is so much easier on our digestion. Wheat breads are so much more dense and coarse in the intestines. If you have read Nourishing Traditions or follow the Weston A Price Foundation you would have also learned about Phytic Acid.
Phytic Acid makes it hard for our bodies to digest the nutrients found in most grains.
The fermentation process helps immensely with this. However, when I pair the white flour with the fermentation of sourdough I feel pretty good about the nutrition content of our breads. It is mostly just my kids that eat the bread in our family and they are pretty picky eaters. They are not fans of the dense texture of whole wheat breads.
If you are new to sourdough be sure to check out my post about getting started with sourdough. I also have a great tutorial here on how to make your own starter. Don’t forget to check out my easy pancake recipe too!