Sunrises with Sourdough
I began my sourdough journey as a way to root myself to a simple, ancestral morning tradition. I’d fallen into the nasty habit of starting every day with my cell phone and overwhelming amounts of not-so-mindful content. I felt drained before I’d even gotten out of bed.
Our gift of instant internet connectedness has a very valuable place in our communities, but we also need to balance such connectivity by tending to ourselves, our families, and our homes so we can make healthy decisions and differences once we step outside.
Baking bread became my way of anchoring to a tangible schedule void of screens and distance. It provided a necessary dedication to something greater than my own immediate satisfaction. Steady, consistent, delicious sourdough helped break through my involuntary evolution into a morning tech-addict and allowed me to focus my mind on the present. My hope is that by sharing my routine, sourdough baking can do the same for you.
The Making Of
To begin, I must wholeheartedly state – there are as many ways of baking sourdough as there are opinions on pizza toppings. This is simply how I make my sourdough. My routine is a modified version of Elaine Foodbod’s Master Recipe. It is her starter, Starr, that traveled all the way to my home from her dehydrated stores in England and became the base of my own starter, Snoopy.
My Tools & Ingredients
- Large glass bowl with a cover (I love using Pyrex for this)
- Liquid measuring cup
- Scale (with grams)
- Measuring cup
- Banneton with fabric cover (I bought mine off Amazon)
- Bread lame (mine came with my banneton)
- Bakeware (I use a clay bread dome, but a dutch oven or something similar works too)
- Sourdough starter in a glass bowl with lid
I could write a whole post on just starters, but I will try to summarize: I use a bowl instead of a jar for my starter because it’s easier for me to stir, measure, and store. I bought dehydrated starter and then re-activated it over the course of a week to strengthen it. I never take more than 50g of starter at a time and as you’ll read, I do not discard. I haven’t had a single issue with my starter – Snoopy – since his birth on March 2nd, 2020. You can also use some active starter from a friend. A starter is a living, breathing creature that needs tending and attention regularly…so be sure to give yours a name that makes you smile cuz you’re gonna be referencing your starter by name for the rest of your bread-baking life.
- King Arthur All-Purpose Flour (unbleached, non-organic – this is the ONLY flour that has worked for me. The right flour makes all the difference!!)
- Sea salt
- Rice flour
- Take Snoopy out of the fridge and set him on the counter, by my heater vent
**A note about room temperature – the heater vent is a must for me in spring, fall, and winter – my kitchen’s low temp doesn’t wake Snoopy up otherwise. I’ve also heard great things about folks using a closed oven with the oven light on to warm their starters (thank you @ervindalefarm) but I don’t have one of those and my warm grumpy house cat won’t sit still long enough to keep the bowl warm so …. the heater vent it is!
Mix 50g of woken-up starter with 350g water
**A note about waking up your starter – Snoopy takes over an hour or more 10 months of the Michigan year to “wake up” – I can tell he’s ready when he has little bubbles all over. He’s never, EVER been super bubbly in the morning. He doesn’t “talk” to me and make popping noises. He is a very chill guy and that’s just fine with me. You don’t need huge bubbles to make delicious sourdough.
Add 500g flour
Add some salt (I normally do 7g)
Add any other ingredients you want: I’ve added lemon, garlic, pumpkin, rosemary – don’t be afraid to get creative and remember to reduce or eliminate your water if you use anything liquidy like pumpkin puree
Stir with a spatula, pressing and folding to ensure even liquid distribution. Don’t worry about “overmixing” – this dough gets worked throughout the day
Grab Snoop-da-loop – time for his daily feeding!
Add 30g of water to starter bowl
Add 30g flour to starter bowl
Mix, cover, and let both the starter bowl and the bread dough sit in a warm spot
I give Snoop plenty of time to eat each day. Sometimes it takes an hour, sometimes more. I know he’s done when he gets all puffed up like I do on pizza or taco night.
Just Before Lunch
Put Snoopy in the fridge for the day
Grab your bread dough bowl and do the first lift-and-fold of the day – take one side, lift, fold it over to the other side, turn the bowl a little, and repeat over and over until you’ve gone all the way around the bowl. You’re folding in pockets of delicious air.
Cover and return the dough bowl to a warm, happy spot in the kitchen.
Throughout The Day
Repeat the lift-and-folds as many times as you want. Sometimes for me this is only 1 or 2 more times. Sometimes I go craaaaazy and do 5.
Sprinkle some rice flour in the banneton
Lift and fold the dough one last time, then hold the bowl over the banneton and gently let gravity release the dough into the banneton
Sprinkle rice flour around the sides and top of the dough so it doesn’t stick to the banneton or cover
Cover the dough-filled banneton
My banneton came with a fabric cover so that’s what I use but I’ve heard shower caps work here too
Place the covered dough-filled banneton in the fridge
Bribe someone else in the house to wash the empty, dirty bread dough bowl and lid
The Next Morning
Take the banneton out of the fridge and remove the cover
Flip the banneton over your bakeware and gently let gravity release the dough into the bakeware
I do not use any parchment paper or foil or anything with my bakes, just my plain ol’ clay bread dome
Score your bread dough using a lame
Cover your bakeware & place in a cold, non-preheated oven
Bake at 450 degrees F for 55 minutes (or longer if you want a darker color on your loaf)
Remove from the oven, take off the lid (BEST PART), admire your work, take all the pictures, show off your hard work on IG and be sure to tag @homesteadersofmichigan!!
I let my loaf cool to the touch before slicing and use a breadbox to keep the crust from getting too hard
Whew! So….I know that looks like a lot….but can I please say, after baking sourdough daily for almost a year now, this entire process takes me maybe 20 minutes of hands-on time TOTAL a day. Once you dive in and make adjustments for your kitchen, sourdough baking becomes incredibly intuitive and fun. I love how daily bread baking transformed my morning routine while giving my family and friends some deliciousness along the way.
Have you tried baking sourdough before? What are your challenges, tips, or fun tricks? And can someone please teach me how to score!?!
Written by Jen
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