16 May 2013

72-Hour Sourdough Bread

Super Simple Sourdough. There's nothing really difficult about sourdough. Making a sourdough starter is straightforward enough, but unless you're making a loaf or two every week, keeping a sourdough starter going is more trouble than keeping a cat! 

Update 18 Dec 14: If you'd like to make true sourdough bread with wild yeast, here's How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter

So I developed this easy method that works beautifully for those of us who just want to make the occasional loaf of sourdough. (I'd enjoy making bread everyday, but I'm a breadaholic, so it could get ugly.) Don't let the "72-Hour" bit scare you off. That's just the amount of time it takes to go from "I'm in the mood for sourdough" to your dinner table. You don't have to do much of anything during that time.

You don't need a heavy-duty stand mixer or strong arms for kneading. The only special equipment you need is either a pizza stone or the cast iron pan I use as a pizza stone. Now I'm going to sound like a shill for Lodge Manufacturing Company, but they haven't paid me a dime or given me a thing! Their Lodge Pro-Logic 14-Inch Cast Iron Pizza Pan is a wonder.

If you don't already own a pizza stone (or you need to replace your pizza stone because it cracked, as they will do), get this pan instead. Read Make "Real" Pizza at Home, Part One (my very first post on this blog!) to learn more about it. Lodge simply uses it like a pizza pan, but I use it like a pizza stone.

72-Hour Sourdough Bread - Super Simple Sourdough

(Makes one 2-pound round boule) 

Starter, Day One:

1/2 dip-and-sweep cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 fluid ounces/89 ml) water, room temperature 

Starter, Day Two:

1/2 dip-and-sweep cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 fluid ounces/89 ml) water, room temperature 

Final dough, Day Three:

3 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (17.5 ounces/496 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) water, room temperature 

1 Prepare starter 72 hours before you plan to serve the bread. In 1-quart bowl, stir together flour (I use Bob's Red Mill organic unbleached), yeast and water. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. 

2 After 24 hours, stir in the additional flour and water. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. 

3 Start final dough 24 hours before you plan to serve the bread. In medium bowl (I use a straight-sided 4-quart glass bowl so I can easily tell when the dough has doubled), whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add starter and water to flour and stir with dough whisk or large spoon until dough just comes together into a shaggy dough (fairly stiff, but still sticky). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 19 hours on countertop.

4 Place a square of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet (which will act as a "peel" later). Sprinkle 1/8 cup flour over the parchment. Scrape the dough out onto the floured parchment. Put a little of the flour on top of the dough and with floured hands, press dough lightly into a 10-inch square. Fold it in thirds like a letter; then fold that rectangle into thirds, forming a square. Pick up the ball of dough and tuck the edges under, forming the dough into a smooth ball. Place the ball back on the parchment. Turn a large glass bowl over it, or cover it loosely with an oiled or cooking-sprayed piece of plastic wrap.

5 Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It will spread as well as rise and not appear to rise very high. Not to worry! It will rise in the oven (called oven spring) and be a lovely, well-risen loaf.

6 When you’ve got about 30 to 45 minutes left, place oven rack in lower-middle position and place pizza stone or Lodge Pro-Logic 14-Inch Cast Iron Pizza Pan on rack. Preheat oven to 475 degrees for at least 30 minutes. 

7 Brush the excess flour off the parchment, cut a "+" about 1/4-inch deep on the top* and slide the boule on its parchment square onto the hot stone. Reduce temperature to 425. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf is 210 degrees. If it's getting too brown, cover loosely with foil.

8 Remove from oven, using the rimless baking sheet or pizza peel to lift the boule off the pizza stone. Let cool on wire rack for 1 1/2 hours. If not eating right away, you can re-crisp crust at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. It's best the day it is baked but can be kept, wrapped in foil, at room temperature for up to 2 days (makes great toast). Makes one loaf. 

9 My favorite way of slicing* a boule is to cut the loaf in half, turn the cut side down and slice, but you can make long slices if you like.

* Note: Use a very sharp knife to cut the "+"--I use my Wusthof Classic 3-1/2-Inch Paring Knife. For slicing, I use my Wusthof Classic 10-Inch Bread Knife



Richard Sheppard said...

Looks and sounds delicious Jean! I love sourdough bread and your pizza pan looks interesting. I have a pizza stone and several individual size cast iron pans I use depending on what I'm in the mood for or whether we have company. My stone is slightly cracked (12 years of weekly use) so I might be in the market for another one—or this pan. Your sourdough looks divine!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Richard, thank you! You should definitely give this pan a try before you buy another stone. You know, I really should be making pizza more often. I might have to adopt your family tradition of a weekly pizza night!

Cranberry Morning said...

Boy, if I could eat wheat, I would definitely give this a try! I really miss 'real' bread. It looks amazing, Jean.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Judy! And, not to worry -- I'll eventually get around to a GF version.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

You read my mind, Jean! I was just talking with a co-worker about finding that sourdough starter recipe--and Voila`--there you have it. Thanks! I'm sending it on to her and I will make a batch myself!

TONY said...

Jean I have just clicked on my reading list to find my link to your blog. When I click on the title of your blog , as you know, I am presented with a whole list of your recent posts and all your posts going back into the mists of time.
It is a poetic experience to read them all. The imagery your titles conjure up is ,"delicious." A moving experience.

Anyway, to the point. Sourdough bread;love it. Great eating experince. I absolutely hate the manufactured white bread you get on supermarket shelves. The only convenience bread Marilyn and I buy is whole grain bread. At least it's real bread to certain extent.

Another great article Jean.

All the best,

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Susan, thank you! I hope you both like it as much as we do. AND do tell ALL your co-workers, friends, relatives and mere acquaintances to read my blog!!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Tony! I'm flattered to have such a good writer and photographer as you reading my blog.

Whole grain bread is our everyday bread, but homemade white breads, including sourdough, are an occasional treat.

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

72 hours? I could forget my name, where I live, and what my mother looked like in 72 hours! Put that much time between my first craving for sourdough and seeing that amorphous mass on my cutting board and I’d probably scream “Wazzat?” and beat it with a flyswatter. This is why I gave up being a chemical engineer – too impatient to wait for the Big Bang. On the other hand, your sourdough (particularly slathered with butter) looks like it could make the cut for exceptions to my no-bread habit. Delicious looking…and sounding, Jeani!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Well, that's quite an endorsement, coming from you! Wish I had a no-bread habit - as you know, I am a breadaholic (which was fine until I became a woman of a certain age)!

Sippity Sup said...

Bring on the bread! GREG

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Greg, it's a must - there could be three main dishes and seven sides on the table and my dad wouldn't consider it a meal if there was no bread on the table!

Charles said...

lol Jean, didn't you just comment on my blog recently that you need to cut back on the bread. Then I come here and find this delightful looking loaf! I never made sourdough yet. I want to make a starter but, sigh - it's finding the time for it all isn't it?!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Yes, Charles, I keep *trying* to cut back on the bread, but ... LOL

Emanuelle said...

This looks so delicious and I've never actually made sourdough bread before!! Will definitely be trying this!!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Emanuelle. Let me know how it turns out for you.

Unknown said...

Looks like a gorgeous loaf of bread, Jean! I love sourdough... but have never made it myself. This looks like the recipe to try! Thanks for sharing.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jenn. You won't find an easier recipe for sourdough bread! Let me know how it works for you.

Angie's Recipes said...

Jean, this is one fine artisan bread. I am going to get a pan too as I bake bread so often..so practical.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

That's a wonderful compliment, Angie, coming from such a fine bread baker as yourself!

Trish said...

What a beautiful looking loaf! I will have to give this a try...

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Trish! I hope you'll try it soon. And DO let me know how it turns out!

Unknown said...

Such a helpful blog!
I am new to baking and was wondering if any of you have ever used any starters from Sourdough's International.. I have a friend who loves it but I'm looking for some more opinions.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Rachael, thank you. I don't have any experience with purchased starters. I've always thought if I were going to get one, I'd probably get one from King Arthur Flour. But the company you're looking at might be good too, I don't know. I don't make sourdough often enough to want to bother with maintaining a starter, which is why I came up with THIS method.

Sandy from TX said...

Can I make this in a bread pan for loaves-1 or 2 bread pans?

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sandy, this would take one 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 and continue baking for about 30 minutes or until crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf registers 210 degrees on instant-read thermometer. Do let me know how it turns out for you.