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Sourdough bread

Rye Sourdough from the scratch!

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Start with the right Tools:

You don't have to buy these exact things, but anyone who works will tell you if you want the job done right, you should use the right tools for the job. Here is a quick list of things I would suggest you buy if you don't have their equivalent in your kitchen.
A good scale
Jars for your Starter - Get pack of 2
A Bread Knife
A Dutch Oven
Obviously there are many tiers of these tools. You can get a better quality oven or knife if you want, but anything will work for starters. The jars and scale is exactly what I bought, and I am extremely pleased with them. Make sure to get 2 jars.

Your Materials:
Everyone says get high quality, high protein flours. For beginners, you don't care about this. If you have King Arthur flour and feel like spending the extra few bucks on it, then go for it. Otherwise any kind of Unbleached white or bread flour will work (either is fine in my experience.) If you want to grab a whole wheat flour just to mix some in, you can - but not needed while you are learning. Keep it simple. Make sure you have some Kosher salt on hand. (Yes, Kosher salt. Not table salt.)

The Receipe Part 1 - Sourdough Starter:
Once you have your materials and your tools, you are ready to go. You'll want to start this a few weeks before your first bake. I pushed it and only waited a week, and my starter was unable to give my bread the bounce and fluff I wanted in the final product. You can check my earlier posts - the bread was good, but more dense than it should have been. USE YOUR SCALE! One of the biggest mistakes I see is people not measuring and winding up with too thick or too runny starter which never seems to take off. You get the scale so you don't have to guess and use imperfect measuring tools!
Add to one of your jars:
4oz Water
4oz Flour
Mix it up good. The jars above have a rubber insert gasket that can help seal them when closed - you DO NOT want to use this. Remove it and close the jar after you've mixed it with a spoon or fork and then leave it for 24hours.
Every 24 hours, you are going to:
Mix the starter in the jar.
Remove 4oz from the existing jar, and add it to the new (clean) jar.
Add 4oz Flour to the new jar.
Add 4oz water to the new jar.
Mix the contents of the new jar (12oz total by weight.)
Clean the old jar and set it aside for tomorrow.
That's it. After a few days you'll notice it starts smelling sour but fruity. Don't worry if it starts out slow or doesn't bubble - this takes time. You dont NEED to use a new clean jar every feeding, but I do it anyways and I have never had issues with mold. The jars can be cleaned in the dishwasher and/or by hand with soap and hot water.

Maintenance of your starter - Has it been a few weeks? GREAT! Your starter should be bubbling and active after each feeding. Some places tell you to feed twice a day - I don't. For a beginner, it's a tough commitment. I feed once a day (and sometimes once every other day if I forget!) Once a day should be fine until your first loaf is ready. For storage purposes, if you are done with your starter for a little while instead of feeding it, just put the entire jar as-is in the fridge. Take it out a week later and feed it (or not - honestly it should be fine in there for a while, although the longer it goes without feeding the longer it may take you to revive it once you take it out and start feeding it again.

The Loaf Receipe (finally!) - I started with this receipe, but decided to change a few things and techniques and timings, and this is what I came up with:

Leaven: A leaven is nothing more than part of your water/bread mix for your sourdough, with a tablespoon of your (recently fed and active) starter. You want your starter active and you want to make this the night before you make your dough, and 2 nights before you actually want to bake your loaf. While your starter is nice and active, add:
1Tbsp Active Starter
75g White or Bread Flour
75g Water to one of your empty, clean jars.

Overnight this will get nice and active just like a mini-starter, but it will be thicker. The next day when you are ready, add the following to a large bowl:
450g Water
The entire contents of the Leaven in the jar. The Leaven should float in the water (you know it's in good shape if it floats!)
Mix this up with your hands until the leaven has dissolved into the water and the bowl now has a milky white color to it.
625g Flour (If you want to use Whole Wheat flour as well, use 500g White/Bread flour and 125g Whole Wheat!)

Make sure you are measuring this out on your scale. Mix with your hands or with a spoon or some other utensil until it's one giant glob of super sticky dough. This is going to be messy. If you are using your hands, take off your rings (you'll thank me.) Keep mixing until a vast majority of the flour is gone - depending on your bowl you may have a tiny bit stuck to the bottom and sides, that's fine. Get yourself a nice clean dish towel, cover the blob, and set a timer for 4 hours.

We let the blob rest for 4 hours. This is called autolyse. Look it up if you are interested. The blob rests and it gets easier to work with after this resting period.

After the four hours, salt the blob. The receipe I used says use a tablespoon - but this is the one part where I wing it. I break out my salt and just throw a nice helping on top of the blob and then mix it in with a big wooden spoon by foldin the dough on top of itself. At this point, you are ready to work your dough:

Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a flat surface (no flour on the surface!) It's going to stick and still be a mess. Lightly wet your hands, pick up the dough from one side so it stretches as you lift, and then slap it down on the surface again with some force to it, then fold it over on top of itself... This is the slap and fold method. Great for stress and it's kind of fun :) Slap your dough down a few times - if it starts getting to sticky and ripping apart, use a scraper or any tool with a blunt edge to scrape it up and add it back to the dough blob. Some receipes tell you to do this for a solid 10 minuts (phew) or not at all.. I do it a few times - no more than a minute or two. Then I bundle all the little pieces up, lightly flour the top of the blob, and cover it with a clean dish towel for 30minutes.

At this point you are going to fold the dough every 30 minutes - I typically do this 3 times. I've done it less, I've done it more.. For a beginner, just do it 3 times. Strech out the dough and fold it in the middle, then stretch the other side and fold it again. The turn it 90degress and repeat, with the last fold going all the way over itself and tucked underneath the blob. You should end up with what looks like a semi-round dough ball with a few creases from the folds on the sides. Lightly flour, rest, and repeat.

After the 3 folds, lightly dust flour on the surface, take both hands and start spinning the dough while trying to sort of tuck the edges underneath as you spin. This is shaping the loaf. It's hard to explain in text, but all you want to do is try to keep spinning and tucking lightly at the same time so the dough turns into a nice round ball with a semi-tight top. it doesn't have to be super tight, but you want it to try and be smooth.

Lightly flour and cover. let it rest for 60 minutes this time. Then shape it one last time. Spin adn tuck.

At this point you are ready to let it rise overnight. Grab a bowl, put a towel within it and then dust the towel with flour. You want enough so that the dough doesn't get stuck to the towel so be liberal with your application of the flour to the towel in the bowl. (A dish towel, not a paper towel. Clean, obviously!)

Flip the dough upside down so that the tight, top part of your dough is face down into the floured dish towel. Lightly dust the dough on top and cover by folding the side of the towel over it, and throw it into the fridge. Leave it overnight (at least 12 hours - closer to 24 has provided me with great results.)

The next day when you are ready to bake, put the dutch oven into the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. (The dutch oven should be IN the oven while preheating, with the top on!)
When preheated, take your dough out of the fridge.
Remove the dutch oven from the oven.
Open the dutch oven (careful, it's not!) and flip the dough into the dutch oven. The tight side of the dough (which was facing the towel in the fridge bowl) should now be face up. Score it with a sharp knife (make a light incision across the top, or make an X with two incisions) and then cover the dutch oven.
Put the dutch oven back in the oven (still at 500degrees).

Cook for 20minutes.
Then lower the head to 450 degrees.
Cook for another 15 minutes.
Remove the cover from the dutch oven.
Cook for another 15 minutes.

You are done! Turn off the heat, remove the dutch oven from the oven, remove your now baked sourdough from the dutch oven and place it on a cooling rack. If you don't have a cooling rack, use a pizza pan with holes or a raised cookie sheet - basically anything where the bread can breath on the bottom and rest.

once it's cooled off, cut it in half with a knife and it should look like the pictures I posted above! Congrats!

It's a lot of details and maybe you don't find any use in this post, maybe you do. If you have questions, feel free to ask. Your kitchen will be a mess the first few times you do this - but as you get better you'll be able to do the entire process cleaner and faster - it's easier than it sounds, I promise!

Good luck, happy holidays, and if you try this once you'll get hooked. I've never baked in my life and now I can't stop making this insanely delicious bread! (Sorry if this formatting sucks, I did my best!)

Added by: Tulay Murtaz Unal

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