Just Bread

If you’re one of the three people globally who didn’t make their own sourdough bread during the first Covid lockdowns, this is for you.

Contrary to popular belief, sourdough is neither difficult or complicated, it’s just time intensive, because if you want to make it, you need to start at least a week before. Or you buy sourdough starter. Whatever. About once a year I get the strong urge to make sourdough bread. I start my sourdough, bake breads for a couple of weeks, and then at some point my starter dies. I feel zero remorse over this.

To start your sourdough, mix 50g of flour with 50 g of lukewarm water in a mason jar, and put it somewhere not too cold. Repeat every day for at least 6 days. Some recipes will tell you it’s fine after three days, but in my experience, it takes at least a week to get a really active sourdough.

Once you have a nice starter, you can make bread. Start the day before your want the bread, best around early in the afternoon. Take:

1kg of flour, 22 g of salt, 200 to 300 g of starter, 400-500ml of water. You can add nuts, grains, seeds to your liking.

I’m not telling you which flour to use, it should work with most gluten containing flours, but you’ll have to find our how much water you need.

If you want to give it a headstart, you can make a “poolish”: feed your sourdough well (at least a double amount), take off your 200-300 g, put those in a nicely warm place (30-35°C) for an hour. This step is optional, but probably wise if you only start late in the afternoon.

Back to the non optional parts: put everything into your kitchen machine and knead for about 10 minutes. You can watch internet tutorials that will tell you how to do it by hand, insisting that those very movements, turns and folding techniques are absolutely necessary, but in my opinion, that’s nonsense. Once it’s done, cover with a damp cloth. Every 1.5 to 2 hours, you wet your hands and stretch and fold it, right until you want to go to bed. Then you fold it a last time, shape it into a ball, and put it either in a special bread basket liberally coated with flour, or a bowl, cover again with a damp cloth, put it somewhere cool but not cold (I use our stairway as it is pretty much lways between 15and 20 °C)and go to bed.

In the morning, you bake it. There are several options here: you can just use your cookie sheet, a pizza stone (my preferred method) or a dutch oven (put in baking paper), but it’s very important that you preheat to 200°C, especially when using a stone or dutch oven. These need to be 200° as well, so I usuall preheat at least 30 minutes. Put the bread upside down on your stone/sheet, dutch oven and  cut the top. If you’re using a dutch oven, cover it for the first 30 minutes, if not pour some water on the bottom of your oven (or use ice cubes) to create steam. If you use the dutch oven, remove the lid after 30 minutes, bake for about 1 h. Let it cool and enjoy.

A sourdough bread with a golden brown crust, cut in half

©Giliell, all rights reserved


  1. flex says

    With as much cooking as I do. I really need to get a kitchen scale.
    I grew up with cups, teaspoons, pinches, dashes, and dollops.
    It drives my wife crazy, because she wants to measure everything and I often just go by eye.

    I don’t expect anyone to translate for me, I can manage that.
    But everything in grams adds a little incentive to not try the recipe.

    It looks good though, and my birthday is coming up… maybe I’ll get myself a scale.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    I have been making bread for about 60 years (with my Mom for the first 10ish).
    Making sourdough bread for about 30 years.
    Before my ex killed it, my “starter” was about 25 years old.
    Humans have been making bread for thousands of years.
    There are no trophies available.

  3. says

    It’s actually not. Maybe 15 to 20 minutes? My main problem is the timing, so I make one big loaf on Sunday. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
    No trophies, just bread. I love bread.

  4. jrkrideau says

    I made my own sourdough bread but that was only because there were ravening hordes in the grocery stores buying all the yeast. I had not made a sourdough starter in decades.

    I just prefer a regular yeast bread.

    @ flex
    A scale is handy though generally I learned to bake with cups etc.

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