This is quite possibly the easiest but also one of the best sourdough recipes and it’s the one I most often frequent.
It’s relatively easy, doesn’t require a lot of skill or ingredients and only uses a single type of flour- strong white.
In most of my other recipes or posts, I usually mix flours to make loaves with different tastes and textures, as such, this is a great beginner loaf to continue getting used to the dough and how to work it. Unlike traditional bread dough, most of the sourdoughs we work with have a much higher hydration (water ratio compared with flour content) meaning they can be harder to work with.
Sometimes, using water as opposed to flour on our work surfaces can make a wet dough more manageable, although this may sound counterintuitive, it prevents the dough from sticking without reducing the moisture content which will consequently affect the crust and crumb of the bread. So during the stretch and fold stages, use a spray bottle to spray some water on your surface and hands, begin to use flour during the preshaping stage.
This recipe uses a total of 1kg of flour and is for 2 good-sized loaves. Feel free to half all ingredients if only making one loaf. The mixture is sitting at just above 70% hydration and so you should get a nice, light open crumb without the holes being too big so all your toppings fall out!
As always, you will need a mature starter, if you don’t have a starter, check out here for my recipe, or alternatively if you have a starter but aren’t sure if it’s ready yet, I summed up some ways to check in this post.
So let’s get to it!
- 150g mature starter
- 925g strong white bread flour
- 650g water
- 18g salt
Combine flour, water and salt and allow to sit (autolyse) for 30 minutes before incorporating the starter.
Allow to sit for a further 30 minutes with the starter and perform the first of 4 stretch and folds (you can do as little as 3 or I have done as many as 6, I find 4 to be a nice middle ground and reduces the time of the bulk ferment so can be more suited to if you’re in a rush).
Perform the 2nd, 3rd and 4th stretch and folds at 45 minute intervals before leaving to rest covered with a damp tea towel for another hour and 15 mins.
By this point, the total length of the bulk prove will have been 4 hours.
Tip the dough onto a flowered surface and split into two.
Preshape your loaves by following another a stretch and fold all the way around the dough before allowing to sit covered for an hour.
In the meantime, dust your bannetons or shaping vessels and set aside. Perform a final shaping of the dough by your preferred method to build surface tension on the top.
Place in the fridge (uncovered) and allow to retard for 12-15 hours.
You know the dough is at the right point to bake by doing the indent test- poke the dough and if it almost returns back to normal, they’re ready to bake.
Heat your Dutch oven for an hour at 250 C to preheat it.
Tip the dough onto a square of baking paper, score and bake in the Dutch oven covered for 30 minutes at 250 C and 25 minutes uncovered at 200 C.
When baked, place on wire rack and allow to fully cool before slicing.