White sourdough bread

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Beginner recipe and process

This is my most basic sourdough recipe. By basic I mean, the simplest. This is a good every day recipe or could be a go-to recipe. As usual I don’t stick too much with measurements as bread making is sensory.  In saying that, I didn’t mean to ditch the recipe completely but to use it as a guideline. This is  especially true when it comes to adding water to make the dough.

So this recipe uses 100% bread flour. Bread flour gives structure to bread and that strong, chewy crumb with a crispy crust we love. So I recommend, using a strong flour (with a higher gluten %) if you want good results.

If you use all purpose flour, you will end up with slightly varying results. The bread will have a much softer crumb and the crust won’t as crusty as you would expect. But it will still be a decent loaf.

white sourdough bread
white sourdough

First things first! Lets get the starter ready, shall we. So if you keep your starter in the fridge like me, the process has to start the day before you intend to make your bread. Get your starter out in the morning and let it come to room temperature and let it get activated for a few hours. If you have been neglecting the starter, give it a feeding(1:5:5) and observe! If your starter doubles in 6-8 hours(or sooner in warm temperatures) then it is active.

starter: flour: water

eg: 1:5:5 means
1 part starter 5 parts flour and 5 parts water
10g starter : 50g flour : 50g water (20% starter in this case)

So you can give it another feeding(1:10:10) in the night and let it sit in a cool place for about 10 -12 hours and this would be ready to use in the morning. The starter to feed ratio will decide the time it will take to ripe.

How to know when starter is ripe?
You can clock your starer using a diagram. To do this, feed your starer with 1:5:5 ratio and place it in a tall transparent container and mark the height. Place in a warm place and observe. Your starter will start to grow. Take the height measurement every hour or half an hour and mark it on the chart below. Do this a couple of times for accuracy. And by looking at the chart, you can now tell the exact time it takes for your starter to ripe. Marked in read id the ideal best stage to use a starer for optimal results. But in real life it is heard to do this every time and it is absolutely okay to use a starter when it is visibly ready ( bubbly, active and doubled in volume is good enough)

If your kitchen is warm, you might want to be creative here. I usually place the fed stater  in the fridge for couple of hours before setting it on the counter-top. That way, it slows down a bit and would be ready by morning.
When you know your starter, this process becomes second nature. You would be able to predict the activity and the exact time the starter would be in it’s peak. 

Using a fresh starter is the key to reduce or eliminate strong sour flavor in the final product. And by using the starter at it’s prime stage, we get the maximum activity and hence a good rise to the loaf later.

The rest of the process it easy. Follow the steps. I have mentioned key things to remember in each step. And when adding water, do it gradually. If you think the dough is tough(dry), it is okay to add more water, but make a note of how much you added, so you know next time. 

For a bread shaping video check this link

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