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!)