Sourdough bread is a lovely, crispy crust and no yeast required kind of bread which can be a healthier alternative to regular whole wheat bread. Preparing Sourdough bread needs 25 minutes of hands-on time for leaven, but it’s worth it! The most important points are that: first, you will need a starter for baking Sourdough bread; the ingredients are simple but irreplaceable, and the dough needs to rest too much.
Sourdough bread starter –which is also known as wild yeast—is what makes your bread rise. It is a mixture of flour, water, and wild yeast. You can also buy a starter, then you will be sure to have a strong and active starter to start baking with confidence. Preparing the starter is not hard, but it needs you to be patient because the whole process typically takes 7 days. The last tip is that you will need a Dutch oven for baking.
For making the dough, pick a large bowl and mix the starter, water, and olive oil. Then, add the salt and flour. Knead by hand for about 10 minutes or in a mixer for 5 minutes until the flour is completely absorbed. The resulting dough will be sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Let it rest for about 3 hours to rise until it has doubled in size.
There is no exact time. It may take 3-12 hours, which depends on the temperature of your ingredients and environment, and the potentiality of your starter.
After at least 3 hours, you should gently start folding up the sides of your dough to strengthen it. So, grab the sides of the dough, stretch it upwards and fold towards the center. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat it several times. This process is optional! The folding process can help increase the volume of your bread.
After 2 hours, lightly dust your work surface with flour. Turn the bowl and remove the dough. Fold the dough over toward the center. Then, flip the dough over and fold over the next section. Repeat stretching and folding until you have a full circle.
Now it’s time for the second rise. Cover the bottom of the Dutch oven with cornmeal (or use parchment paper). Put the dough inside and score the dough with a knife. Again cover it with the pot lid or a damp towel. Leave it for at least 30 minutes. Your dough would be ready when it gets puffy.
Now it’s time to preheat your oven to 450 F (232 °C).
Put the dough into the oven and decrease the temperature to 400 F (204°C). First, bake it for 20 minutes (with the lid on). Then, uncover it and let it bake for 40 minutes (until it gets golden brown on top). Your Sourdough bread is ready!
After removing from the oven, let it cool for at least an hour before slicing to avoid sticky texture inside.
If your bread gets too dense, that’s because your dough was cold.
If your bread has too big holes, the reason is that it was rising too long.
If you have both big holes and too dense problems, it means your oven wasn’t hot enough.