NOTE: I’m continually adding information to this post as I learn more about sourdough. This post details my overnight routine but you can also mix your dough in the morning and let it rise during the day, baking it just in time for dinner. Colder room temp will cause slower rising, warmer room temp will cause faster rising and a hungrier starter. It’s okay to feed your starter every 8-12 hours in hot and humid climates if you don’t refrigerate it. Above all else, just be flexible with it…a starter is a living pet and it can be killed, but it’s more forgiving than any other living thing I’ve cared for and when in doubt, feed it, let it sit for a few hours, and put it away in the fridge to put it on pause for a bit. Play around with it and find out what works for your climate and routine!
First the recipe:
1 cup sourdough starter
3 cups flour
3/4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
I've resurrected my sourdough routine! My last sourdough started died a quick death in the heat of May in the Bahamas last year, and oddly enough, the whole time we were in northern latitudes and out of the heat (I mean really out of it, as it was really cold), I didn't make a new one! I'm kind of disappointed in myself that I didn't keep it up, but we were obviously busy with other things.
Last week I was craving a good loaf of bread. Maybe the past four months in the Bahamas where you can only get really sweet white bread spurred that craving? I generally do not buy bread anywhere we are because it's something that I can make myself and I'd rather spend the money on a really good cheese. Now that we're sitting still for a few weeks, I decided sourdough would be my little addition to the kitchen routine. This time, I have a good strategy to battle the heat.
If you've never made sourdough, it's easy to be put off by the amount of work it appears to be. Honestly, it's not that much work! I promise.
Second the starter:
I used 1 cup of bread flour (organic, unbleached, unenriched), 1/2 cup warm water. I put that in a quart mason jar and cover it with a tea towel. Every day the started needs to be halved (remove half of the starter to use), and fed with 1/2 cup flour and a bit of water to make it the same wet, pancake batter consistency.
I recommend starting the culture in the morning so it can grow over the day. In the evening, I put mine in the fridge as the temperature rarely drops below 75 here, but if you have a cooler place to keep it, you may keep it out of the fridge overnight. Per my routine, I remove half of the starter and mix a tablespoon of flour and a bit of water in the starter about an hour before I put it in the fridge overnight. The extra tablespoon of flour feeds the starter a bit, and the amount that I've removed is used to prepare a loaf for the morning.
I do an overnight rise so that we have bread baked in the morning while the boat is cool and so we can eat it all day. With the starter that I take out of the jar each evening, I mix the above recipe and let it sit. No kneeding. I cover the mixing bowl with a towel and put the mason jar with the starter culture in the fridge.
Whole wheat flax sourdough
After rising…check out those bubbles!
A very wet cranberry loaf after shaping.
In the morning, or after about 8-9 hours of rising, the dough will be doubled. With wet hands, I scrape the dough from the bowl and turn it out onto a silicone baking sheet. Each corner is gently pulled and folded into the middle. Let it set for 30 minutes and do another turn of the dough by bringing the edges in from the outside to the center.
A dryer loaf after shaping
I place the shaped loaf on the silicone baking mat into a mixing bowl so it holds its shape as it’s rising a final time. As the dough is resting, I preheat the oven as hot as I can get it, usually around 400 degrees F, and place the Lodge Dutch Oven in there to heat. After another 30 minute rest, I flour the top, use a razor to slash a design, and place in the oven at 350 degrees and bake for 25-35 minutes.