If you had asked me last week, last month or last year if I enjoyed baking I would have emphatically said no. I'm not a fan of baked goods in general, I'd prefer dark chocolate to a cupcake or cookie, and the list goes on. However, I watched the Michael Pollan documentary on Netflix, Cooked and one of segments was on Bread, specifically sourdough bread and it's nutritional value and the argument that pure, high quality ingredients used in sourdough may not effect people who avoid gluten otherwise. I attempt to avoid gluten because of my eczema and it's flare ups. However, I love a nice slice of bread. I posted on NextDoor in our town to see if anyone had a Sourdough starter (I received a shocking amount of responses) and picked up a 30 year sourdough starter (that means a person or persons kept this bacteria alive for 30 years (no pressure)) and lucked out with a college friend Alden and her Swedish fiance Olle (I only mention that he is Swedish because (1) Alden referred to him repeatedly as 'my Swedish finance' which I find adorable) and (2) I'm so impressed he moved to the US WITH his sourdough starter) sending me their (nearly fool proof) sourdough recipe.
I'm not one to typically say, do this or you'll regret it. But, if you like bread, experiment with this. Worse case scenario you end up with an awesome loaf of bread. I may regret it because I LOVE the bread I'm making and may be spiraling into all sorts of bread making (just ordered a new book, so watch out). It's so fun to make, it takes minimal planning unless you're actually needing it for a specific meal, your kids will have fun making the bread as well as feeding your starter. Alden and Olle recommend naming it... I named ours Olga.
My first loaf, Emmett measured the salt and for whatever reason I didn't watch. The ingredients are salt, water and flour so measurements do matter here... 1/4 tsp vs. 3 tsp. made a huge difference in taste. Our second loaf turned out amazing, Emmett said, "Honey, this is delicious."
So below is the recipe that Alden and Olle said I could share. It's really fun to keep your starter alive, it's amazingly rewarding to watch the dough rise and become something nourishing and delicious and it's awesome to have your kids watch flour, water and salt turn into something that fills their bellies.
From Alden and Olle: Simplicity at it's Best
Timing: You can either start the process in the late afternoon and bake the next morning, or start early in the morning and bake at night. Total timing is based on the activity and liveliness of the starter (when it was last fed, temperature, etc) so the timing in the recipe is more of a guideline and looking at signs of bubbles and expansion or rise is best.
(Between baking…feed the starter in the fridge every week or so. Remove and discard half and add lukewarm water and flour back in. Leave loosely covered. If a dark liquid or “hooch” accumulates on the top, just pour it off. Hooch forms when your starter has exhausted itself and needs to be fed.)
Step 1: Make the starter (and then feed the one for the fridge!)
-Remove ½ cup or so of starter from the fridge and add water & flower back into the jar.
-To a large mixing bowl add:
-1/2 cup starter
-1 cup flour
-1 cup water
-Mix until it resembles what you put back in the fridge.
-Cover with plastic wrap and a few holes
-Put in a warmish place and wait 3-5 hours or until the surface is covered in little bubbles.
Step 2: Make the dough
-Uncover the bowl and notice hundreds of bubbles. The critters in the starter have spent a few hours multiplying and creating some lift. The sour comes from lacto bacteria (the more fridge starter you add the more sour the bread) and the bubbles come from the natural yeast. Unsure if it’s ready? Drop a teaspoon of starter into ta glass of water. If it floats, it’s ready to use.
-Too the now bubbly starter in the bowl add:
-500g (approx. 3 cups) of flour
-250g (approx. 1 cup) of water
-15g (approx. 3 tsp) of salt
-Mix well. The dough texture will be quite sticky, as it is in the 1:03 mark of this cute Swedish YouTube VIDEO (ADC: While I understood none of this video, it helped me realize I needed to fold my dough and wait and extra hour). If it feels too sticky add a bit of flour.
-Place the glob of sticky-ish dough into an olive oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap again.
-Put in a warmish place and wait 8 or so hours.
Step 3: Check on the dough:
-When you come back to the dough it should have risen about 1.5-2 times the size. Sometimes it’s loose (and requires a few folds to trap in more air and firm it up like in the video above…if that’s the case wait another hour before baking) and sometimes it’s perfect.
Step 4: Bake the dough
-Preheat oven to 475 F (heat up Dutch oven at the same time)
-Remove hot Dutch oven and sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on the bottom to prevent sticking.
-Put the bread dough into the Dutch oven (slice the top if you'd like) and cover.
-Bake, covered, for 20-25 min.
-Uncover and back in the oven for an additional 10 min.
-Remove from oven and measure temperature of bread. Ideal is 97 C (or 206.6 F) so if it needs longer just pop it back in and test again in a few minutes.
-As soon as it's finished, pop it out of the Dutch oven and put it on a grate to cool. The sour character will become more pronounced a few hours after baking when the bread is cool.
-To store the bread, wrap it in a kitchen cloth.
Once confident, experiment with:
-Adding a bit of whole wheat flour to the regular flour
-Adding nuts and dried fruits (walnut & apricot is our favorite! Photo below.)
-Naming the starter in your fridge...something Swedish like "Pippi" or "Anders." It's alive after all.
Favorite bread uses so far:
-French toast with lemon zest in the batter
-Grilled cheese sandwiches
-Toast with Kalles Kaviar from Ikea. :)
Enjoy! Have a great weekend. We are baking another loaf tomorrow.
All Above Pictures are shared from Olle and Alden's bread making adventures.
Hi! I'm a health food trained chef, living with three children and my husband . . . sharing some ideas with people in hopes of bringing delicious ideas into their kitchen and pushing them gently to come up with simple and delicious meals for themselves.