Rising Dough and Raising Skills: Sourdough Breadmaking

(If you are here just for the recipe, it’s at the bottom!)

My cousin, Sherri, and I have both spent the last few months in a breadmaking extravaganza. Primarily, we have both been making sourdough breads. My family has wondered why I am making so much bread, and friends online have questioned whether my family can really eat this much bread (the answer is probably, but I’ve also been sharing with others).

But, making beautiful and excellent sourdough bread is a process. It requires patience – with the starter and with the loaves – and also practice. It’s hard to be a good sourdough baker from the start, because you have to learn the skills, but you also have to learn how the ingredients work in your unique environment. A warmer house will require a shorter proof, while a colder house will call for a longer one. More humidity in the air may mean that you have to cut back on the water in the recipe, but dry air may necessitate a little extra.

Sherri’s beautiful garlic loaf!
Look at the gorgeous ear that Sherri got on this loaf!
A pair of lovely loaves from Sherri’s kitchen

Not only have we worked on our baking skills and patience, but it has been a wonderful way to reconnect with one another. Almost every day, one (or both) of us are baking and sending images to the other. We talk about the trials and tribulations and plot our next bake. It’s been really sweet to develop our little bread partnership.

For someone who considers herself as a true lifelong learner, sourdough bread has presented an enjoyable opportunity to grow a skill, learn more about the science of bread and yeast, and study the different techniques used by the diverse array of bakers who present their recipes and processes online.

And, there is something about baking bread for others that feels like a very special kind of nurturing of body and spirit!

Ultimate Sourdough Recipe from Joshua Weissman

804g bread flour
75g whole wheat flour
740g water at 90*f
175g levain (35g starter, 35g whole wheat flour, 35g all purpose flour, 70g water)
18g non-iodized sea salt

  • Make your levain and allow it to double.
  • When you think that it is near the top of the rise, begin your autolyse by combining the flour and 660g of water. Allow to sit for 90 minutes.
  • Add the levain and a splash of water and mix, then slap and fold (or Rubaud knead) for 3-5 min. Allow to rest for 25 minutes.
  • Add salt and the remainder of water if the dough looks like it can handle it, then slap and fold (or Rubaud) 3 minute. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  • Stretch and fold, then rest for 15 minutes.
  • Stretch and fold, then rest for 30 minutes.
  • Stretch and fold, then rest for 30 minutes.
  • Stretch and fold, then rest for about 2 hours, watching for the dough to have rising at least 30%, be sort of marshmallowy on top, and show clear signs of fermentation.
  • Divide into 2 equal pieces and preshape. Bench rest for 30 minutes.
  • Final shape and place into floured bannetons or cloth-lined bowls.
  • Proof in the fridge for 12-16 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 500* for 1 hour. If baking in cast iron or on a pizza steel or stone, preheat that with the oven.
  • Remove loaf 1 from fridge, score and place in your baking receptacle with the lid on. Allow to bake 20 minutes, then remove lid.
  • Reduce temp to 450* and bake an additional 30-40 minutes.
  • Cool for at least 90 minutes before cutting.

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