Weekly sourdough bread recipe

We love sourdough bread. And there is nothing quite like the smell of fresh baked bread. This bread recipe is adapted from the clever carrot blog. The creator of the clever carrot blog, Emilie, has great information on making a sourdough starter and how to feed and maintain it.

Adapted from: The Clever Carrot
Serves: 1 large loaf or 2 small loaves

This is a low-hydration recipe (bread has “tight” crumb aka small holes) and is great for peanut butter on top of toast and for sandwiches.

200 g active, fed starter
250 g warm water
25 g olive oil
10 g (2 tsp) Himalayan salt, ground finely
2.5 g (½ tsp) granulated sugar
5 g (1 tsp) baking soda
5 g (1 tsp) instant yeast
500-600 g bread flour*
fine ground cornmeal, for dusting Dutch oven

*Use bread flour, not all purpose flour. The amount of flour used will depend on the humidity of your environment.

Mix: Using a fork or whisk, combine the starter, water, and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the salt, sugar, baking soda, and yeast then stir to combine. Add the flour, only 100 g at a time. At around 300 g of flour, you’ll need to switch from using your fork or whisk to using your hands to mix. Combine by squishing and kneading until all of the flour is absorbed. The dough will look rough and shaggy at this point. And you’ll doubt your bread baking abilities and this recipe. Please don’t do either. Just roll with it. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and a kitchen towel.

Autolyze: Let the dough rest for 30 minutes. Then, work the dough around the bowl into a tight ball (about 15-20 seconds).

Bulk fermentation: Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Leave it in a warm spot to rise for 3-12 hours. The bulk fermentation is done when the dough has doubled in its original size.

Optional stretching and folding during bulk fermentation: After at least an hour of rising (or up to 10 hours of rising), stretch and fold the dough. To do this, stretch the dough upwards, then fold it in half over itself. Rotate the bowl 45°, repeat the stretch and fold. Do this until you’ve gone in a full 360° circle. Recover with the saran wrap and kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise again.

After 1 hour of rising, stretch and fold again as described above. Recover again and allow the dough to continue rising for another hour.

Note: You can make this into two small loaves of bread or one larger sized loaf of bread. We like a larger loaf. If making two loaves, split into two before shaping (below) for the second rise.

Shaping: Lightly flour your clean counter (I also dust my hands with some flour) while keeping some counter space clean from flour. Transfer the dough from the bowl to your floured spot on the counter. If making two loaves, split the dough into two equal parts. Then transfer the dough (or one of the portions of dough) to the clean section of the counter. Starting at the top (the 12 o’clock position on a clock), fold the dough over toward the center. Rotate the dough 45° and fold the dough over toward the center. Continue rotating and folding until you’ve gone in a full 360° circle. Flip the dough over, so the seams are “face down”. Using your hands, cup the sides of the dough and rotate it in a circular motion. Repeat this until you’re happy with the dough’s circular appearance. Repeat for the other portion if making two loaves of bread.

Second rise: Sprinkle a thin, even layer of fine cornmeal on the bottom of your Dutch oven (no need to preheat your Dutch oven). Place the dough into the Dutch oven, seam side down. Cover your Dutch oven with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise again for about 1-2 hours.

Baking: Preheat your oven to 450°F (232°C) when you’re ready to bake. Make a shallow slash about 2 inches long in the center of the dough using a very sharp knife. Remove the plastic wrap, place the lid on the Dutch oven, then place it in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 400°F (205°C). Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and continue to bake (uncovered) for 30-40 minutes (until the bread has a deep, golden brown crust).

Note: We’ve noticed that if the oven just barely reaches 450°F and we’re Johnny on the spot (err…quick for all of my foreign friends) about putting in the bread to bake, then it takes a bit longer for the bread to bake. However, if the oven is up to temperature for awhile (say 10 minutes while you’re wrestling with an alligator a baby during a diaper change), then you’ll need less bake time overall.

Cooling: Remove the bread from the oven and from the Dutch oven. Cool the bread on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing into it (resist the urge to cut into it right away!)

Westy Blonde Clone

Westvleteren 12 is said to be one of the best trappist beers in the world. It is produced by the Trappist Abbey of Saint Sixtus in Vleteren, Belgium. On our last European adventure (and second adventure with Oliver), we visited the abbey-owned cafe and visitor centre called In de Vrede, which is across the street from the monastery.
We have tried all three of the beers: the blonde (5.6% ABV), the Westvleteren 8 (formerly called Extra; 8% ABV), and the Westvleteren 12 (formerly called Abc; 10.2% ABV). I personally love the Westvleteren Blonde the best. Due to my preference and because both the Westvleteren 8 and Westvleteren 12 are bottle conditioned (something we have yet to attempt), our next beer on the docket was to attempt to clone the Westvleteren Blonde.

This brew was adapted from The Mad Fermentationist and BeerSmith recipes.


Westvleteren Blonde Clone

6 lbs Belgium Pale Ale
3 lbs Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt
½ lb Weyermann Acidulated Malt
1 oz German Northern Brewer (5.3 aa)
1 oz German Hallertau (2.7 aa)
2 oz Styrian Goldings (5.7 aa)
¾ lb granulated sugar
Yeast: Safale BE-134 Belgian (dry)
1 tablet whirlflock
Gypsum, if needed

Total grain bill: 9.5 lbs (10.25 lbs with sugar)


  1. Heat 4 gallons of water at 147°F (63.9°C)
  2. Mash for 60 minutes
  3. Check pH during mash, adjust pH to 5.2-5.5 using acidulated malt and gypsum
  4. Mashout at 165°F (73.9°C) for 20 minutes
  5. Sparge 3.5 gallons (13.25 L) to 6.5 gallons (24.6 L).
    Target SG=1.053
    If SG is a bit lower (1.047), add sugar to increase the SG.
    In our experience, 0.25 lbs of sugar increased SG by ~0.0025
  6. Boil for 75 minutes
    Hop 1 @ 60 minutes: 1 oz German Northern Brewer
    Hop 2 @ 20 minutes: 1 oz German Hallertau
    Hop 3 @ 12 minutes: 2 oz Styrian Goldings
    Target OG=1.063
  7. Rehydrate 1 sachet of yeast in 1 cup (250 mL) room temperature water
  8. Oxygenate wort in fermentation vessel as much as possible
  9. Pitch yeast at 68°F (20°C). Target volume = 5.5 gallons (20.8 L)
  10. Allow fermentation vessel to warm up to 76°F (24.4°C)
  11. Primary for 1 week, secondary for 2 weeks

BrewDay Notes:
We accidentally added 1 lb of acidulated malt to the water (good thing it was the first thing we put in the tank). We scooped out what we thought was half of the malt.
We therefore ended up with a pH of 3.2.
We sparged with 2¾ gallons (10.4 L) because we were concerned about hitting a specific SG. We sparged to 5.5 gallons (21 L) with a SG=1.054.
We transferred 4.25 gallons (17 L) of wort into the fermentation vessel with an OG=1.063.
After 5 days in fermentation vessel, we transferred beer into a corny keg and force carbonated to 7 psi. We then placed the keg into the kegerator for its secondary.

Tasting Notes:
Nose: banana, wheat, almond, hint of footy
Palate: pleasant sweetness, hint of clove, orchard fruit (apple, pear)
Finish: fairly dry, bit of “funk” though not unpleasant, no lingering flavors
7% ABV

Final Thoughts:
We love this beer. It is not exactly Westvleteren Blonde, but it is a great tribute and has a nice Belgian flavor to it. 
The ABV is a bit on the high side, but the beer is still an easy-drinker. 
We’d love another go at this. Next time, we would sparge with 3.75 gallons 

DIY Kombucha

I love kombucha. I was introduced to it (and hated it) when I was an undergrad. My friend John re-introduced me to it several years ago in graduate school. That’s when I fell in love with ‘bootch and discovered two things:
1) you can get a small discount at Whole Foods if you buy a case of it at a time and
2) I love kombucha with chia seeds floating around in it. I’m kind of a weirdo that likes that texture.
Drinking the probiotic elixir daily didn’t last long; it was an expensive habit that took up a lot of fridge space. 

Skip ahead to the DIY Kombucha Recipe below.

Fast forward to the end of September. My in-laws were in town visiting us Oliver. And I somehow convinced my mother-in-law and one of my sister-in-laws to go to the kombucha class with me at Grain to Glass in North Kansas City. Grain to Glass is a fun little homebrew shop that has a little bit of everything: supplies for brewing (beer, cider, wine), a bar with rotating beers on tap, and a few fridges with bottled beer. It also hosts brewing competitions, beer tastings, and classes for all things related to brewing.

Both my mother-in-law and sister-in-law already make their own kombucha, but their interests were still peaked to learn more from a guy named Keith who has been making kombucha for years and teaching others to do the same. The bonus features of this class were that you had the opportunity to try his homemade kombucha, receive a SCOBY (more below on this), see his “SCOBY Hotel”, and acquire some of his kombucha knowledge. Grain to Glass also had kombucha kits available for purchase (for $12, I believe) that included everything you needed (minus the SCOBY) to get started. 

Now that I’ve successfully made three batches of kombucha at home and feel a bit more comfortable with the process, I’ve also made a post with some knowledge that I learned from Keith, the internet, and making my own kombucha. I also answer the questions I get the most at kombucha on that post.


DIY Kombucha
Serves 14
1 serving of kombucha is 1 cup (~250 mL)
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 5 min
56 calories
14 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
277 g
10 g
14 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 56
Calories from Fat 0
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 10mg
Total Carbohydrates 14g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 14g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 14 cups (3.5 L) water
  2. 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  3. 8 tea bags
  4. 1 SCOBY
  5. 1-2 cups (250-500 mL) kombucha (starter tea)
  6. Coffee filter or muslin cloth
  7. 1 thick rubber band
  8. 1 gallon glass jar (4 L glass jar)
  9. Soda straw
  10. Tongs
  11. Plate
  1. 1. Bring 2 cups (500 mL) of water to boil.
  2. 2. Remove water from heat and add sugar, stirring to dissolve.
  3. 3. Bring another 12 cups (3 L) of water to a boil. Remove from heat and add 6-8 tea bags. Allow them to steep*
  4. 4. Let the tea and sugar water to cool to room temperature (at least 1 hour, but up to overnight).
  5. 5. Add the room temperature sugar water and tea to the 1 gallon glass jar.
  6. 6. Add the 1-2 cups (250-500 mL) of kombucha (starter tea from the previous batch of finished kombucha**) to the jar.
  7. 7. Add 1 SCOBY to the jar.
  8. 8. Cover the jar with a coffee filter. Secure filter with the rubber band. Set the lid aside as it is unneeded.
  9. 9. Let the sweetened tea + SCOBY sit at room temperature in normal lighting*** for at least 5 days and up to 1 month.
  10. 10. At the 5 day point, draw up a sample of the freshly fermented kombucha using the straw. Taste for desired sweetness/tartness. Fermentation may take longer than 5 days (or up to 4 weeks), depending on desired taste. The longer you allow the tea to ferment, the more tart and tangy it becomes.
  11. 11. When brewed to you desired taste, remove the original SCOBY and the newly generated SCOBY with a pair of tongs and place them on a clean plate.
  12. 12. Check the SCOBYs for green or black mold. If you find mold, discard the SCOBY and the kombucha/tea - start over with fresh ingredients!
  13. Remember that brown or stringy bits are totally normal as are shades of brown.
  14. 13. Set aside 2 cups (500 mL) of newly finished kombucha and one SCOBY to begin you next batch of kombucha.
  15. 14. Pour the remaining kombucha into bottles. If you'd like to carbonate or flavor your kombucha, then now is the time. To flavor your kombucha, add fruit, juice, herbs, or additional tea. If you'd like to carbonate your kombucha, cap the bottles and set on the counter for 1-3 additional days.
  16. 15. Chill the bottles before opening.
  17. 16. Take care when first opening your kombucha as the contents will be under pressure.
  1. *I usually allow my tea to steep for 5-10 minutes. You can steep the tea bags overnight.
  2. **You can use unfiltered, unsweetened, commercial kombucha as the starter tea.
  3. ***Keep the solution out of direct sunlight, but don't keep in a cupboard or out of the sun.
Adapted from from Keith Krieger
Adapted from from Keith Krieger
The Adventures of El and Jen http://www.elandjen.com/