Sourdough bread how-to


The following information and recipe has been provided by Dace Corlett, Owner of Crumb Bakery in San Diego, CA:


Activating Dehydrated Sourdough Starter

Day 1 Step 1: Combine the following: 5g dehydrated starter 10g filtered water Mix well and rest for 30 mins Step 2: Add 5g flour Mix well to combine. Cover loosely, leave in warm place for 24 hours. Day 2 Starter should have some small bubbles. Add the following to your jar: 10g water 10g flour Mix well, cover loosely and let rest for 18-24 hours. Day 3 Morning Starter should be looking more active snd bubbly. You will be feeding your starter 3 x today. Morning, mid-day and evening. Transfer 5g to a clean jar. Now we are going to switch to a ratio method of feeding. 5g starter 10g water 10g flour This is referred to as 1:2:2 feeding. 1 part starter to 2 parts water and 2 parts flour. Mix well, cover loosely and rest 8 hours Mid-day Discard all but 5g of starter, feed 1:2:2. 5g starter 10g water 10g flour Evening We are going to give the starter a heavier feed this time to carry it through the night. 1:4:4 5g starter 20g water 20g flour Mix well, cover loosely, rest over night. Day 4 Your starter is ready to build a levain to use in baking. From here on out you will feed your starter 2-3 times per day dependent on your baking schedule.


Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the difference between starter and levain? The only difference is the intent of use. The levain is what you will be using in your recipe, the starter is what you maintain day to day, it is your to ‘start’ your levain. Personally, I build my levain at night before bed so that I can make my dough first thing in the morning. I use what I need for my dough, and feed what is left. The freshly fed starter rests until the evening when I build my levain again for use the next morning. If you do not bake frequently your starter can be fed and placed in the refrigerator, then pull it out and give a couple of feedings before using. Alternately, you can build your levain anytime that suits you. You can do it as part of the morning feed, remove what you will need for your recipe, feed what is left 1:2:2, and in the evening discard and feed 1:4:4. Feeding ratios - These ratios can be used with any volume of starter. Standard feed is 1:2:2 and over night is 1:4:4. If you want your starter to be ready to use more quickly, feed 1:1:1, if you want it to reach it’s peak later, increase the ratios. The ratios of water and flour that are used directly relate to how long the starter takes to peak…more food = more time, less food = less time. What to do with your discard? DO NOT PUT IT IN THE SINK. Sourdough starter dries like concrete, you do not want a clogged drain. Put it into the trash if you do not want to keep it. However, there are a ton of great discard recipes on the internet: pancakes, waffles, cookies, english muffins, etc. I pour all of my excess into a Tupperware type container that I keep in my refrigerator and we make waffles every Saturday morning, and extra waffles go into the freezer for the week ahead. I don’t suggest keeping discard for longer than a week. You do not need to maintain a large amount of starter, that is a waste of flour (unless you plan to use the discard). You can discard all but 5g of starter and feed it a minimum of 10g flour/10g water (1:2:2). Personally I keep about 125g on hand (25g starter fed at 1:2:2 ratio) but that is because I often need around 100 grams in the evening to build my levain, it is common for me to build top 1,000 grams or more. When building a levain, look at what your recipe calls for and crunch the numbers. If the recipe calls for 100g starter, deduct the amount of starter that you plan to start with. A good example is to begin with 25g of starter and feed it 50g water & 50g flour this will create 125g of levain, 100 for your dough and 25 to feed and keep. If you build your levain at night and you need 8-10 hours, lower the amount of starter to be less working with the 1:4:4 ratio. Mix it all in a larger container than you have been using up to now and follow the same procedure of covering it loosely and letting it rest for several hours. Use a dry erase marker or a rubber band to mark the volume of your levain immediately after creating it. It will be ready to use when it has doubled, also referred to as ‘at peak’. Ideally you want to let it rise as long as possible, keeping an eye on it and using it just when the center starts to sink a tiny bit. Sometimes a levain will triple in volume, so keep an eye on it so that you can learn the characteristics of it and how it behaves with different feeding ratios. Water- always use filtered as chlorine can kill the microbes in your starter. Some people simply use tap but let it sit for 24 hours before use to allow the chlorine to dissipate. Sourdough microbes like minerals so hard water is beneficial. Flour- while you can bake with any variety of flour there are a few simple rules to understand. Microbes do not like bleached flour so avoid that. Bread flour (BF) has a higher protein content than all purpose flour (AP) and provides a better gluten network and structure to your bread. Many people add in a percentage of whole wheat (WW) or rye flour to give a loaf more structure and flavor. The higher your ratios of whole grains (WW, rye, spelt etc) the heavier your loaf will be and the more water it will require. A safe bet for beginner bakers is about 10% whole grain flour. Feeding your starter- you should feed a ratio of 90% BF/10% WW or rye for an active healthy starter as a starting point. You can always adjust the ratio as you get comfortable with the process, I personally feed 70/30. The microbes in your starter thrive on the complexity of rye and whole wheat. If you do not want to feed your starter and bake daily, you can store it in the refrigerator. Get your new starter to day 4 and if you do not want to bake put it in the refrigerator. When you do want to bake it will need to come out the day prior and will need 3 feedings to become vigorous enough to rise your bread.


Tips and Tricks: • Bakers use percentages. Most recipes will be in percents 20% levain, 10-20% whole grain flour, 2% salt, and hydration % is amount of water. All of these numbers and ingredients can be played with. The higher percentage of levain the quicker your dough will rise. • The higher the hydration level the more complicated the dough is. High hydration doughs (75% and up) lend themselves to a more open crumb and thinner crust, but also tend to not have as much oven spring. • Standard hydration for sourdough is probably 60-73% which leads to a medium crumb and a slightly softer texture. • 100% hydration starter - if you feed your starter equal parts water and flour it is called a 100%hydration starter. • Autolyse is the act of hydrating your flour. Many recipes call for a 30min- 2 hour autolyse. This is simply mixing the flour and water together, in advance of inoculating the dough, to allow the flour to fully absorb the water before adding in the levain and salt. • Coil folds, slap & fold, and stretch & fold are all kneading techniques used in sourdough. Go to YouTube and look them up. Coil folds are primarily used with high hydration doughs (above 75%) • Bulk fermenting is the process of fermenting your dough which begins when you inoculate your dough by adding the levain to the autolyse. Typically in the first 2 hours is when you perform the folds, the rest of the time the dough is fermenting untouched until shaping. • Shaping is done after the bulk ferment is nearing it’s end you will shape your dough (again, visit YouTube!). If you are an inexperienced baker this will feel challenging, but it just takes practice. You will find many techniques, choose one that you like and stick with it! • Bannetons are lovely baskets that you proof (rest) dough in overnight and they leave beautiful lines in your dough. This is totally unnecessary, alternately you can use bowls lined with a tea towel, dusted with rice flour (any gluten free flour will prevent sticking). A deep bowl that is not wide is preferable. • Plastic shower caps are great covers for your dough as they are stretchy and reusable. I buy a brand called CoverMate, you can find them at Target in the food storage section or on Amazon. • A a dutch oven is VERY helpful in getting nice oven spring in your loaf. This is because it holds in the moisture from the bread, allowing it to expand to it’s full potential before the crust begins hardening. An enamel DO can be used (pay attention to the lid, if it has a plastic knob that will need to be removed) but the enamel will get ruined. There is a very good cast iron DO set made by Lodge, I think it runs about $40. 5.5 quart is a good size. • A Lame is a tool featuring a razor blade and is used to score the dough before cooking. • Scoring can be used to create pretty designs and creates a designated exit point for steam, preventing blow outs in random areas of your dough as it bakes. Again, YouTube scoring for ideas. • I highly suggest a kitchen scale that has a tare feature, a digital thermometer, a small rubber spatula for mixing your starter, small jars (I use mason jars for my starter, scoop out what I want, mix in a bowl and put into a clean jar), shower caps, a round 2 quart Cambro food storage container with lid, and a dry erase marker. I use this to make notes on the lid of my cambro and to mark the side of the container as it goes into the second half of bulk ferment so that I can see when my dough has risen sufficiently.•


Overview of the method of making sourdough: Autolyse, inoculation/salt, S&F (stretch and fold) 4 times, rest covered for the balance of the bulk, when dough is looking fluffy and has increased in volume (increased by 50%), pre-shape, shape, place into banneton, cover and refrigerate overnight. Pre-heat oven to 500* with DO inside. Once it gets up to temp wait 15 more minutes. Turn dough out onto parchment, dust with flour, score, gently drop into DO, cover and follow recipe instructions.


Country Loaf Recipe

  • 200g starter at peak

  • 950g AP flour

  • 200g ww

  • 765g water 22g salt

  • 69%hydration

*This is for, 2- 1051g loaves

Single loaf-

100g starter

475g AP flour

100g ww

382g water

11g salt

The day before In the morning take your starter from fridge,

remove 10g and feed @ 7am 1:2:2 = 50g total,

put the rest of your starter back in fridge for the next bake..

@ 2pm take 10g and feed 1:2:2 = 50g total.. Save extra starter in a container, in the fridge, for making pancakes in 5-6 days

@ 9pm take 10g and feed 1:5:5 = 110g total.. Save extra starter in a container, in the fridge, for making pancakes in 5-6 days

^^^ This gets your starter super active and ready for that last feed in the morning to bake, I promise you wont be disappointeAt 7 am the next morning, take 67g (or 33g of each for single loaf) starter, feed with 67g water and 67g flour, let sit 2 hours, then start your flour and water autolyse..just mix it till there is no dry flour bits in your bowl, cover and let sit 2 hours..

Dump your starter on top of this dough ball, this is the start of Bulk ferment.. Mix that starter in by poking and dimpling the dough, massage it in really well and fold it up into a ball, cover and let sit 30 minutes

Dump it out gently, sprinkle the salt over the surface massaging and folding into your dough, cover and wait 30 minutes.

(you are now at 1 hour of bulk ferment.)

**Try to keep dough at a constant 70-73 degree temp this whole process..

Do your first round of stretch and folds, this first set should be 15-18 pulls, pull from one side gently strait up and across dough to other side. turn a smidge repeat, all the way around until you start to see resistance about 15-18 times..Flip seam side down, cover and let rest 45 minutes.

Next do a set of coil folds, wet hands pick up dough and stretch up let top half fold over bottom half, repeat this 4-6 times till you get resistance, do not tear dough.. cover and wait 45 minutes..

Next do a set of coil folds, wet hands pick up dough and stretch up let top half fold over bottom half, repeat this 4-6 times till you get resistance, do not tear dough.. cover and wait 45 minutes..

Next do a set of coil folds, wet hands pick up dough and stretch up let top half fold over bottom half, repeat this 4-6 times till you get resistance, do not tear dough.. cover and wait 45 minutes..

( You are now at 4 hours bulk ferment)

Let dough rest another 1.5-2.5 hours until just about double..keeping with the 70-73 deg dough. The dough should look floofy and domed.

Pre-shape on counter, no flour to get good surface tension, let rest 10minutes.

toss about 1 tbsp flour onto surface of dough and dust off around edges.. using your bench scraper softly scrape the flour under the edges.. Pulling the dough towards you and softly spinning to make the tension.. do not over do this as you will tear your gluten.. let rest 10 minutes.

prepare your proofing vessel with floured cloth or floured banneton I use either cornmeal or a rice flour/cornmeal mix.. place dough in, let rest another 30-40 minutes...

cover with plastic , then get into fridge.. 36-38* top shelf of fridge..

Proof in fridge 10-24 hours.

Preheat oven to 500*

When it beeps give it another 10-20 minutes.

Take dough out of fridge invert onto parchment score place into DO(I drop 3-4 small ice cubes down the sides of parchment) and cover put directly into oven and lower temp to 485, bake 20 minutes.. Crack lid lower heat 465 and bake 20 minutes.. Remove lid and bake uncovered 10 minutes until internal temp of bread reads 210..

remove from pan and wait to cut 2-3 hours for it to fully finish baking and setting up.

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