I've been thinking about baking my own bread for awhile, so when I got a catalog from Portland Community College for its community (non-credit) classes and saw the Sourdough Bread Baking I was so excited to learn more! I recruited my best friend Lauren to join me on the adventure.
Baking sourdough bread can seem a little trickier than regular bread, but it is honestly so easy! I was very intimidated before the class, but I've been baking almost every week since the class and everything has turned out so well.
I'm sharing the advice we learned on caring for your sourdough, and a few of the recipes I've used and loved so far. If you don't already have a starter here is a recipe to try. We were lucky enough to get the starter at class, and I've heard starting it is one of the hardest parts, but I would say the great bread would be worth the struggle!
Raising Your Sourdough
Feeding your starter:
- Your starter needs to be fed every day if on the counter, or about once a week if you are storing it in the fridge.
- All your starter needs to survive is unbleached flour and warm water!
- I take a casual approach to feeding my sourdough- I just judge it by eye. I mix in unbleached flour to the starter so there are about equal parts. Then I mix it up while slowly adding warm water until the texture is smooth and easy to mix.
- If you want to measure by weight using a scale mix together equal parts starter, water and flour.
- Remove your sourdough starter from the fridge. Stir it to reincorporate any liquid that has separated. Feed the starter. Let sit overnight.
- Time to bake! If you do not have enough starter to make your chosen recipe, you may repeat day one and bake the following day.
- Use the amount of starter called for in your recipe. Be sure to conserve some starter to continue feeding- a 1/4 cup or more is safe. Pour off any excess starter, or use it to make something quick and tasty.
- Feed your remaining starter and return to the fridge, or allow it to sit out if you intend to bake the following day.
- I sometimes like to give my starter a few days on the counter, feeding it each day, even if I don't intend to bake with it. I feel that feeding it up in this way strengthens it up for future baking.
- You can, if need be, freeze your starter. Pour a 1/4 cup into a freezer safe container, remove as much air as possible, and label it with the date. The starter will be fine in the freezer for up to a month, and potentially longer.
- Do not pour off the liquid ("hooch") from the unfed starter. Simply stir to re-incorporate.
- Never put a tight lid on your starter! I keep mine in a mason jar with the lid lightly resting on top.
- It is best to keep the starter in glass or ceramic.
Baking with Sourdough
Below are some of the recipes that I received in class or have baked on my own. Tip: the longer the proof the stronger the sourdough flavor. So, the bread below will have a strong flavor, while the scones will not.
No Knead Sourdough Bread
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 cups warm water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- In a large mixing bowl, stir the starter into 2 cups warm water. Slowly stir in 3 cups of flour. Mix in the 3rd cup of water and the salt. Gently mix in the remaining 3 cups of flour until fully incorporated. The dough will be wet and formless.
- Place a cloth over the bowl and let sit in a warm place for 10-12 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Toss a handful of flour onto the dough and then punch down the dough, incorporating the flour by hand. Lightly grease two baking pans. Divide the dough evenly between the two pans.
- Cover and let sit 4 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 450. Cover each pan with aluminum foil and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake uncovered for 15 minutes, or until loaves are golden brown and cracking on top.
- Let sit in bread pans 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
Savory Sourdough Scones
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 stick cold butter
- 1 1/4 cups sourdough starter
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 1/3 cup finely chopped rosemary
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a knife or by hand until the moisture resembles coarse crumbs. Be careful not to handle too much- you don't want to melt the butter. Add the starter and mix by hand to form a soft dough. Just before the dough is completely mixed, add the cheese and rosemary and finish mixing.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Pat or roll each piece into a 1/2 inch thick round. Cut into 4 wedge shaped pieces and place the scones on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
- Bake until the scones just start to turn golden, 12 to 15 minutes.