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How to Make Sourdough Bread | Sourdough Bread Recipe | How to Shape Sourdough | Best Sourdough Loaf

Updated: Jan 25

I started my sourdough bread journey last year and have watched many videos on Youtube. I've also tried my own methods to see what works and what doesn't.


In the beginning, it was very stressful when my loaf wouldn't rise! I would get so upset! But I wasn't going to let this journey end like this! So I continued trying different things and I've finally found what works for me!


So if you're having trouble with your sourdough loaf, don't give up. It is a journey that has has it's ups and downs. But when you finally make an amazing loaf of sourdough bread, you'll be so glad you went through all the experiences.


I hope this video helps you bake the best sourdough loaf you've ever made! Happy Baking!


Sourdough Bread Recipe Cooking Time: 7 Hours (Approx)

Plus Overnight Starter Activation

INGREDIENTS

  • 210g Active Sourdough Starter (made with 70g starter, 70g flour, 70g water)

  • 280g Water (room Temperature)

  • 18-20g Sea Salt

  • 500g Bread Flour or Strong White Flour

  • Rice Flour to Dust


METHOD

Day 1 About 9pm:

In a sports cup (like in the video), mix the 70g sourdough starter with the 70g water and 70g and mix completely with a fork. The weights can be a few grams over, but not under. Cover lightly and place in a warm place to rise overnight. I put mine by my water heater.


Day 2 About 9am:

In the morning, your sourdough starter should have increased in size about 50%. You can do the float test to check it is active. Just take a teaspoon of activated starter and put it in a glass of water. If it floats, it’s ready.


In a large bowl (preferably with a lid), place the active starter: you should have at least 210g of active starter. Then add 280g room temperature water and 18g-20g salt together by hand. Make sure it’s mixed together well. It is always a good idea to FEEL the dough when mixing, as you ‘connect’ with it in this way.

Then add the 500g flour and mix this in completely by hand, breaking up any lumps and making sure there is no loose flour left. If you scrape the dough from your hands, make sure you mix this back in completely so that the dough is well combined. Dampen your hands slightly if needed. Let the dough rest for 30 minutes in a warm place.

Then start the folding process by wetting your hands, then taking the outside edge, pulling it, shaking gently and folding it to the middle. Do this for each of the four sides. This is one set of folds. Then cover and let this rest in a warm place for another 30 minutes. Repeat the set of folds 3 more times. After the final set of folds, flip the dough over.


Then the next set of folds will be coil folds. For a coil fold, wet both hands, then take both hands in the middle of the dough and lift it up, gently loosening the dough from the bowl if needed. Then fold one side under and overlap it with the middle of the dough. Then fold the other side under, making sure not to leave any gaps, (as any gaps will lead to a thin layer of dough). Turn 90º and repeat the process. Then let this rest for 30 minutes. Do this set of folds 2 more times resting for 30 minutes in between.

In the mean time, clean your counter-top.

For the final set of coil folds, take the dough from the bowl and place it on the counter-top. Do your coil folds and let the dough rest for a minute.


Then move the dough to top right-side of your counter top. Roll and tuck the dough ball to the bottom-left of your counter. This is to tighten the outer skin of the dough ball. Make sure you don’t over-tighten the skin, as it may tear. Just roll and tuck. When tucking, make sure you are tucking to the bottom middle, not just the bottom. This is very important in order for the final loaf to hold its shape.


Once shaped, let your dough sit for a minute. Then repeat the roll & tuck again. Now the outer skin should be fairly taught. Dust your loaf with rice flour and spread it on the outside with your hands.

Dust your bowl with rice flour. Then carefully place the ball upside down in the dusted container. Cover with a tea towel or cloth and let it proof in a warm place for about 2 hours. Again, I leave this by my water heater.

Set a timer for 1 1/2 hours as you will need to preheat the oven and your dutch-oven (with the lid) to 240ºC. Let the dutch-oven heat up for a good 30 minutes.

To bake a beautifully risen loaf, be sure to have a dutch oven that has a diameter only 2-3cm or 1 inch larger than your proofing container. This encourages the loaf to rise upwards, rather than outwards & sideways which results in a flatter loaf.


The dough will be proofed when there is about a finger width between the side of the dough and the side of the container. Over proofing leads to a flat loaf. You want some spring in the loaf as well as the rise from proofing.

Place the proofed dough into the hot dutch-oven. Score the top of the loaf at least 1cm deep in a circular ‘V’. The scoring does make a difference, so score the loaf to allow it to rise the best. Then cover it with the lid and bake it for 20 minutes with the lid on.


After 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake for a further 20-30 minutes, until the bread is a deep brown colour with a little black charr.

Once the dough is baked, remove it from the dutch oven and place it on a rack to cool for 45-60 minutes. This is because the loaf is still cooking inside.

Once it has cooled, cut the loaf in half, and then into quarters to slice it. You can freeze portions or leave the loaf (putting the quarters together) covered with a tea towel for a day or two. Then it is best to place it into a plastic bag or wrap it in beeswax wrap o keep it fresher.

Tips:

1 - Mix your initial dough mixture completely by hand so that it is smooth, without any clumps of dough. This will lead to a better texture in your final loaf;


2 - Make sure your folds are done properly, stretching and pulling to strengthen the dough. This ensures a wonderful texture also.


3 - Make sure your coil folds are done so that there are no gaps when folding. This means that you must ensure the sides that are folded to the middle stick to the middle. Otherwise the loaf will not have a tight skin, nor be even on top when shaping. It will have some dips in the loaf.


4 - Make sure you pull and tuck by hand. This way, you can feel as you tuck into the centre of the loaf. Shape the dough once. Let it rest for a minute. Shape again. This helps get a tighter outer skin, which helps the dough ball keep its shape.


5 - Pull and stick the underside of the dough together after placing it in the bowl to ensure the taught skin stays in place. Hold it and twist so that it stays.


6 - Leave the dough to proof in a deep container vs a flat one. This helps ensure a better shape.


7 - Let the dough proof in a warm spot, but don't let it overproof. The dough should rise some but still have some spring to it. the spring means that the dough still has some rising to do. Overproofing will lead to a flatter loaf when baked.


8 - Score the loaf to allow the best burst and rise. You want the top of the dough to open up. If you score the sides and not the top, the dough will expand sideways, leading to a flatter loaf.


9 - Ensure a hot oven. I increased my baking temperature from 220º to 240º and it makes a big difference. Make sure your oven and cast iron pot are properly preheated. Start the preheating process earlier if needed.


10 - Choose a cast iron pot that is only 2cm-3cm or 1" bigger than your proofing bowl or banneton. This way, the loaf is 'forced' to rise upwards rather than sideways and it holds its shape around the sides.


11 - Bake your loaf until it is a deep brown colour with some black charr. This ensures your loaf is cooked through and gives the loaf a wonderful crust and flavour. It may look dark to you, but once you taste it, you'll enjoy the deep flavours of your loaf.


12 - Don't cut your loaf while it is hot. This is because the loaf is still cooking inside. I've made this mistake many times! But wait and you will be rewarded with a delicious, fully cooked, warm loaf of fresh sourdough bread!


13 - You can partially bake this loaf by only cooking the loaf for 20 minutes with the lid on and about 15 minutes with he lid off. Then cool the loaf and store it in the fridge until you are ready to finish the baking. To finish the baking, run the loaf under the tap and place it in a preheated oven to 230º for about 10 minutes. Leave it to cool for about 20 minutes before cutting into your crusty loaf. The longer the loaf is left in the fridge, the more complex the flavours of the bread.


14 - DON'T GIVE UP!!! Baking sourdough bread is a journey. It is NOT easy. So enjoy the process and don't give up if your loaf doesn't turn out right. See where you may have gone wring and keep trying. When it works, you'll be the happiest person in the world! And so will I!!


HAPPY BAKING!!




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