You can relish the unique flavors and taste of Sourdough Bread by preparing it for yourself and family at home. It may seem difficult to prepare a Sourdough starter and bread initially. However, the process is quite simple and does not require much effort.
The only thing you need to keep in mind is the time factor. You need to plan when and how much of bread you would like to have ready. Because if you are going to prepare it from scratch by making first the Sourdough starter, you will need to begin a few days earlier.
Similarly, there are several other tips and tricks that you need to follow to make your own Sourdough Bread at home.
Read on to learn everything about baking Sourdough Bread. This ultimate guide will provide you not just the step-by-step recipes and ingredients needed to bake Sourdough Bread, but also answer common questions related to the process.
What is Sourdough Bread?
Sourdough bread is a baked product using a Sourdough Starter as a fermentation agent. Sourdough is a process of grain fermentation that had been followed traditionally for the preparation of baked products until packaged yeast was invented.
Sourdough bread is believed to have originated in Egypt at around 1,500 BC. It continued to be the customary form of leavening for bread until it was replaced by the baker’s yeast a few centuries ago.
The last few decades have witnessed a renewed interest in Sourdough bread primarily due to the number of health benefits it offers.
Sourdough bread is considered healthier than conventional bread. Another factor that makes Sourdough bread superior is the unique taste and flavor Sourdough Starter gives to it.
Since Sourdough Starter is fermented naturally by the wild yeast present in the air, the texture and flavors of the bread prepared from it are enhanced considerably.
Preparing your own Sourdough Starter and bread at home can allow you to enjoy the benefits of this healthy food while also satisfying your taste buds with its exceptional texture.
Benefits of Sourdough Bread
Sourdough bread offers several benefits that you would be left deprived of when you consume conventional bread. Here is a brief discussion about why Sourdough Bread is considered superior to conventional bread.
- It’s Nutritious
The flour used for the preparation of sourdough bread is usually the same as that used to prepare conventional bread. Yet, the wild yeast-based fermentation process of sourdough starter can enhance the nutritional content of sourdough bread in several ways.
For example, whole grain bread provides a good amount of nutrients including phosphate, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.
However, unfortunately, these minerals end up getting lost during the process of digestion due to which the body is deprived of the benefits of nutrients in whole grains.
The absorption of these nutrients is inhibited due to phytic acid present in grains. Phytates have a tendency to bind to minerals due to which your body’s ability to absorb and assimilate them is reduced.
Interestingly, sourdough bread can help you avoid this problem and enhance the body’s supply of nutrition. Sourdough bread contains lactic acid bacteria that can lower the pH level of bread and thus, render phytic acid ineffective. This would ensure the minerals in whole grains can be absorbed into the body in an efficient manner thereby promoting your nutritional status.
- Supports Antioxidant Activity
Replacing your conventional bread by sourdough bread could help protect your body against free radicals.
Lactic acid bacteria in sourdough bread possess the potential to release natural antioxidants during the fermentation process. These antioxidants can prevent damage to the healthy tissues caused due to free radicals thereby possibly reducing the risk of diabetes and cancer.
- Eases Digestion
Sourdough bread is easier to digest than conventional bread fermented with the baker’s yeast. This benefit of sourdough bread could be attributed to the prebiotics present in it as well as its probiotic properties.
Prebiotics in sourdough bread are non-digestible fibers. These fibers can support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut thereby enhancing the process of digestion.
At the same time, probiotics can improve gut health, ease digestion and reduce the risk of digestive disturbances.
- Controls Blood Sugar Levels
Switching to Sourdough bread may be beneficial for patients with diabetes. It has the ability to control blood sugar levels by modifying the structure of carbohydrate molecules.
It may reduce the glycemic index of bread and regulate the breakdown of sugars. This can help to prevent extremely low or high blood sugar levels thereby potentially controlling diabetes.
Some other benefits of Sourdough include:
- Contains dietary fibers
- Prevents constipation and indigestion
- Supports weight loss
- Creates a sense of fullness in the stomach
If you want the texture and flavors of your Sourdough bread to come out to be perfect, you can prepare it in a Dutch oven.
Preparing Sourdough bread requires you to maintain a specific temperature around the dough while also keeping the contents protected against moisture in the air.
A Dutch oven can help to create this environment and ease the process of making Sourdough bread.
It can create a moisture-sealed chamber with an evenly intense radiative heat. The thicker cast iron walls of a Dutch oven would also offer adequate thermal mass suitable for a temperature-stable baking environment.
- Dutch oven
- Cast from molten iron in individual sand molds
- Porcelain surface eliminates the need to season cast iron
Its sealed interior would trap the steam thereby allowing your bread to rise.
Using a Dutch oven will also deepen the crust color, add a kind of shininess to its exterior and increase the spectrum of colors on its crust.
So, if possible, always bake your bread in a Dutch oven for better results.
A kitchen scale could be a good option to invest in if you plan to bake sourdough bread at home on a regular basis. The recipes need a perfect measure of ingredients. By weighing the ingredients on a kitchen scale you will improve the chances that your bread rises well and tastes just as expected.
- 11 lb capacity Scale measures ingredients in 1/8 oz (US) and 1 g (metric) increments for remarkable precision
- Zero function allows you to tare Scale before adding additional ingredients, ensuring accurate measurements for every recipe
- Easy to read display features large digital numbers with optional backlight, and a convenient meter shows how much of the Scale's 11 lb capacity remains
- Innovative Display pulls away from base to prevent shadowing from large plates or bowls, thin profile allows for easy storage. Removable stainless steel platform can be hand washed
- Cord free design makes for a no fuss setup, 4 AAA batteries included
Adding ingredients after weighing them on a kitchen scale each time will also help you maintain consistency in all batches of bread.
And you can, of course, also use the scale while preparing other dishes in the kitchen. It will be a great addition to your kitchen tools to improve your cooking skills.
What flour should you use for Sourdough Bread?
You can use any grain-based flour to bake sourdough bread. Whole wheat flour, Rye flour, Rice flour, Spelt flour, Sprouted flour, and Barley flour work well for the recipe.
However, it is advisable to feed the sourdough starter sourdough starter you want to use for baking bread on bread flours or unbleached, all-purpose flour as these are remarkably resilient. These types of flours can also rise well and offer a mildly sour and pleasant flavor to the bread.
Using a sourdough starter fed on whole grain flours for baking bread may develop off flavors, and become skunky over time.
So, the best flour to use for the starter would still be bread flour or unbleached, all-purpose flour.
For baking bread, you may use the following flours depending on the kind of results you are expecting:
- Whole-wheat flour: Whole-wheat flour is rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals. It is preferred by health-conscious people for its high nutritional value.
- All-purpose flour: it offers a blend of soft and hard wheat and could make your bread airier like baguettes.
- Bread flour: Bread flour contains more proteins compared to all-purpose flour. It is also sturdier and suitable for baking rustic loaves with a great chew. It may also provide a darker color to the bread, which could be the result of being ground with its bran and wheat germ intact.
- Rye flour: Rye flour can absorb water more effectively than whole-wheat flour thus creating a sturdier loaf of bread. You can also use Rye flour for preparing sourdough starters as it can attract more wild yeast compared to other flours.
- Spelt flour: Spelt flour is stone-ground flour with low gluten content. It has a rich protein content and is suitable for baking a denser loaf.
You can choose any of these flours depending on your preferences and the kind of bread texture you like.
Read my post How to Make Sourdough Starter first, if you want to make your own.Print
Sourdough bread is made from flour, salt, and water with no added yeast. You can prepare Sourdough bread at home and relish its delicious flavors.
You can choose to bake it in smaller quantities sufficient for one family meal or prepare it in a larger batch and store the excess for future use.
- 500 grams flour of your choice
- 200 grams of active sourdough starter
- 240 ml water, lukewarm
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well-like dip in the center.
- Combine sourdough starter and lukewarm water separately in another smaller bowl. Pour this mixture on to the well you made in the flour and mix well.
- Stir the mixture slowly to work the flour to form a soft dough. You may add extra water if the dough feels crumbly and dry or some extra flour if the dough feels sticky.
- Sprinkle some flour on the work surface and place the dough on it. Knead it well for 10 to 15 minutes or until it becomes elastic and pliable.
- Place the dough back into the large glass bowl. Cover it with a muslin cloth or a tea towel.
- Allow it to rest at room temperature for about 3 to 8 hours until the dough rises to double its original size.
- Dust the work surface lightly with flour and place the risen dough on it. Press and knock the dough with your knuckles to bring it to its original size.
- Then, cup your hands gently around the ball of dough and slowly, bring them closer underneath the dough. Shape it using gentle pressure to form a tight ball.
- Cover it with a tea towel and leave it to rise for another 2 to 6 hours or until doubled in size.
- Put a cast-iron pot with a lid in the oven, about 30 minutes before the rise is over. Preheat the oven to 220°C keeping the fan on.
- Once the final rise is over, remove the cast-iron pot from the oven. Transfer the dough from the bowl to the pot gently while supporting it with your hands.
- Cut 2 to 4 shallow slashes on the dough using a sharp knife to allow the bread to rise during baking. Place the lid on the pot and keep it back in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes on 200°C keeping the fan on.
- Remove the lid and continue baking for another 15 minutes or until the crust appears golden brown.
- Once done, leave the bread on a wire rack and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.
- Serve it once it cools to a temperature suitable for consumption or store it for future use. You can store the bread for up to 5 days.
If you prefer to avoid the labor-intensive process of kneading the dough by hand or in a stand mixer, you can try this recipe for no-knead sourdough bread. It can help you do away with the kneading process and also give the bread a better structure with a good network of holes.
- 1 cup of active sourdough starter
- 1 3/4 cups of lukewarm water
- 5 cups of any flour of your choice
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Combine the flour, salt, lukewarm water, and sourdough starter in a large mixing bowl and mix well.
- Stir together gently using a dough whisk or big spoon to form a rough and sticky dough. You can also beat the mixture at a medium speed in a stand mixer for about 30 to 60 seconds.
- Leave the dough in the bowl and cover it with a piece of plastic wrap or tea lid. Let it rise for about 1 hour.
- Pick up the dough gently and fold it over itself several times. Cover it again and allow to rise for another hour.
- Repeat the folding-rising process one more time and fold it again after the third hour.
- Place the bowl in the refrigerator and let it rest for a minimum of 8 hours. For better results, let it rest for a longer duration of up to 48 hours.
- When you are ready to bake bread, remove the dough from the refrigerator and keep it on a well-floured surface on the kitchen counter. Shape it gently to make a rough ball.
- Place it on the surface with its seam-side up, and cover it. Let it rest on the floured surface for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Shape the dough such that it fits the vessel in which you plan to bake it. Grease the base of the vessel lightly or dust it with semolina. Place the well-shaped dough into it. Cover the vessel with a lid.
- Leave the dough at room temperature for about 2 to 3 hours to allow it to become warm and rise.
- Preheat the oven to 500°F about one hour before you are ready to bake. Position the rack in the middle.
- Dust the dough gently with a fine coat of flour and make one or two deep slashes through its upper surface using a sharp knife. If you are baking a longer loaf, you can make one arched slash along the length of the loaf. If you are baking a round loaf, a crisscross or crosshatch pattern works better.
- Cover the baking vessel with a lid and keep it in the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 450°F and bake it for about 40 to 45 minutes.
- Remove the lid of the vessel and continue baking the bread for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the bread from the oven once it appears deep golden brown in color. Transfer it to a rack and allow to cool completely.
- Serving it once it cools to a temperature suitable for consumption or store it for future use.
Here are some baking tips that will help you develop the skills to prepare a flavorful Sourdough Bread and even add a twist to it by modifying ingredients.
- Begin with simple recipes
Though preparing a Sourdough Bread is not too difficult, it is advisable to begin with trying simple recipes initially. You may be able to master the recipes in one to three attempts. You can stick to trying the basic Sourdough Bread recipes until you gain experience and try variations later once you feel confident.
- Switch between flours
The fact is how ever good your Sourdough Bread would come to be, you and your family would get bored of eating the same stuff each time you prepare it.
You can cater to the desire of your taste buds for a variety by switching between different flours. You just need to keep the amount of flour used and its proportion to water and other ingredients the same.
Using a different flavor each time you prepare a batch of bread will offer a wider variety in your dishes and keep your taste buds contended.
- Adjusting the time
If you are short of time and cannot give 8 hours of lead time to let the dough rise, you can speed up the process by adding a pinch of baker’s yeast. It will help the dough rise in a shorter duration without interfering with the complex flavors of sourdough.
- Don’t forget slashing
Slashing the loaves with a sharp knife is a crucial step in baking Sourdough Bread. Do not think this step is meant only to make the bread appear tempting.
When you place the dough in a hot oven, the higher temperature causes the wild yeast in it to work extra hard before they go dormant. This heavy work results in what is called ‘even spring’, which causes the bread to rise a bit more thus giving it a nice texture.
Slashing the loaf before placing it in the oven will give it a correct direction to spring evenly such that the final shape of the bread is controlled. Hence, make sure you do not miss the step of slashing the loaf.
- Test for doneness
You must always test the loaf for doneness to check if it has come out well. There are a couple of ways of testing whether the loaf is baked properly:
To test, turn the loaf over and gently flick it with your fingers. If it sounds hollow, you can consider it as done.
- Wait before slicing
Never hurry up once you remove the bread from the oven. Let it cool at least 15 minutes before you slice it.
- Bake in a Dutch oven
If possible, use a Dutch oven for baking Sourdough Bread as it can create the moist, and humid environment needed for baking during the first few minutes. It can give a good rise to the dough and develop the crust perfectly by preventing the moisture from evaporating from the bread.
- Slow your rise
If you have enough time, you can have pauses in the steps of the recipes and put the dough or the loaf in the fridge for a few hours. This extra time in the fridge would help enhance the flavors in the dough further!
How to Store Sourdough Bread?
If you have baked a larger batch of sourdough bread, you can store the excess loaf to be used later.
The usual shelf life of sourdough bread is about 5 days. You can improve the shelf life by storing it in a correct way as mentioned beneath:
- Cool Sourdough bread thoroughly before storing it. Once it cools, you can place it in a breadbox or plastic storage bag and store at room temperature. Alternatively, you can wrap it in foil.
- Store sourdough bread at a cool and dry place away from excessive moisture or heat.
- Avoid storing Sourdough bread in a refrigerator as it may cause the bread to dry out and lose its flavors.
- If you must refrigerate your sourdough bread for reasons like lack of storage space or extremely hot and humid room conditions, use it up within 2 to 3 days.
- You can also opt to store sourdough bread in a freezer. You can store the entire loaf as a whole or slice it before storing. Wrap it tightly with plastic freezer wrap or aluminium foil or keep it in a freezer bag before storing in a freezer. If properly stored, Sourdough bread will maintain its quality for about three months. Though it may start losing its texture and flavors thereafter, it will still remain safe for consumption for a few more months provided it has been frozen continuously at 0°F.
- Discard the stored sourdough bread if mold appears on its surface, or it has an off smell or appearance.
If the outcome of your bread-making experience turns out to be not as you had expected, read this sourdough bread troubleshooting section to find the possible causes and solutions.
- The bread rises only horizontally, resulting in a flat loaf
The reason could be your dough was a bit moister. You can try using special floured bannetons or colanders lined with floured towels to give support to the dough so that it rises evenly.
To prevent the dough from spreading horizontally, place the baking loaf in a well-preheated oven so that it has an oven spring.
Switch to using a high-protein flour like whole grain flour so that you get a chewier crumb that is stronger and spreads less.
- The bread turns brown and crusty before it rises
Make sure you catch the sponge at its peak before you add it to the other ingredients of bread.
Alternatively, add about 1/8 teaspoon of ascorbic acid to the dough. This may help the dough rise well, especially if your sourdough starter is not active.
- The bread is not adequately chewy
It may indicate the starter has not fermented for long enough. To avoid this problem, you can place the dough in a plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator for 7 to 8 hours to allow it to rise more before you punch it down and shape.
Alternatively, use a high-protein flour to make it chewy.
- The bread is not crispy or does not brown properly
Use steam to keep the bread in a humid environment for the first 5 to 7 minutes of baking. This would ensure a crispy and crunchy crust forms on the surface of the bread during baking.
- The bread tastes too sour
It indicates the dough has fermented for a longer duration. Reduce the rising time or avoid adding Rye flour to the recipe.
Baker’s Percentage for Sourdough Bread
Here is the formula for Sourdough Bread in baker’s percentage. You can use this formula to prepare varying quantities of Sourdough Bread by increasing or decreasing the quantity of all ingredients while keeping their percentage unchanged:
- 100% flour
- 48% lukewarm water
- 40% young, ripe sourdough starter
- 2% salt
Sourdough Bread FAQs
Is Sourdough Bread gluten free?
Sourdough bread has a lower Gluten content than conventional bread. The fermentation process involved in the preparation of Sourdough bread can degrade gluten more effectively thereby protecting you against the symptoms of gluten sensitivity to some extent.
However, if you have gluten sensitivity, it is advisable to choose gluten-free options of flour to ensure you do not develop any undesirable symptoms.
Is Sourdough Bread healthy?
Yes, Sourdough bread offers a healthier alternative to conventional bread. It can help to reduce digestive troubles like indigestion and constipation by improving healthy bacterial flora in the intestine. It can also regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetic complications.
Is Sourdough Bread vegan?
Sourdough Bread is considered vegan. A typical sourdough loaf has ingredients derived from non-animal sources. Even wild yeast and lactobacillus bacteria used for the preparation of Sourdough starter are perfectly fine for a vegan diet, though there still exists a debatable opinion about the same.
If you plan to buy Sourdough Bread, it is advisable to ask the baker or check the label as, in some recipes, milk is added to the starter.
Does Sourdough Bread have yeast?
Sourdough bread contains sourdough starter that is prepared with the help of wild yeast present in the air. Hence, you can say, sourdough bread does contain yeast. However, it is different from the baker’s yeast that is commonly used in conventional baking.
Is Sourdough Bread low carb?
The carbohydrate content of sourdough bread is lower than that of conventional bread as the sourdough starter tends to consume some of the carbohydrates in the flour.
However, it cannot be considered to have a carbohydrate content low enough to be suitable for consumption for people on a keto diet or any other low-carb diet.
Does Sourdough Bread have dairy?
If you prepare your own sourdough bread at home, you can choose not to add milk or other dairy foods. The basic recipe of sourdough bread does not require the addition of milk or yogurt.
However, you may add a small amount of yogurt to the starter if you want to speed up the process of fermentation. Also, store-bought sourdough bread may have milk in it.
Is Sourdough Bread good for your gut?
Yes, sourdough bread uses a sourdough starter that is fermented by using a lactobacillus culture, which is a probiotic. It can improve the natural bacterial flora in the intestine and support the process of digestion.
Is Sourdough Bread good for diabetics?
Sourdough bread has a low glycemic index, which means it can help to maintain stable blood sugar levels and prevent drastic fluctuations. Hence, it is considered suitable for patients with diabetes.
How long does Sourdough Bread last?
Sourdough bread usually lasts for about 5 days when stored at room temperature away from heat and moisture. You may prolong the shelf life by storing it in a freezer as discussed earlier.
The process of making Sourdough bread may seem to be tedious initially. However, it will be equally satisfying to make your own sourdough bread at home with your kitchen emanating a fresh baking-smell.
You and your family will not be able to wait to have a bite of the brown, crusty loaf full of rich flavors!