We are going to get to the part where you make sourdough happen in your kitchen, but first I must make a confession/explanation. In order to film the sourdough process in one shoot, I had several batches going simultaneously to make the whole process flow in 15 minutes instead of 15 hours. The finished loaf I pulled out of the oven was actually baked hours before, and it wasn't the gorgeously-shaped loaf you watch me flip into the clay baker. It will make sense when you watch the video. What that beautiful loaf with all the lovely lines imprinted on it that went into the oven came out as the magnificent one you see in the picture above. Go ahead and watch the video now. I'm glad I got that off my chest. Let's talk a little more in detail after the YouTube...
I have another confession to make. In a desperate attempt to keep the proofing dough from sticking into the basket during the shoot, I greased the basket with ghee and then liberally floured it with rice flour. It is now official that I am not a real sourdough artisan. It gets worse. I keep greasing the proofing basket with ghee because now I get a beautiful loaf 100% of the time. One of these days I'll grow up and leave my crutch of ghee in the corner, but for now, it keeps me limping along.
The cool thing about sourdough is it really can be adaptable. I'm going to list tools and supplies you can use around the house as well as the up-your-game version. If you are new to sourdough, I encourage you to try it out for size using what you already have around the kitchen for at least a month before committing financially by investing in more expensive gear. Just remember that if you end up loving the process of sourdough, your loaves will turn out even more magnificent once you get those new toys.
You Will Need:
- Spelt flour. Store-bought will work fine, but when you're really ready to commit to this bread-making thing and want the best results and highest-nutritive-value loaf, you won't regret having a WonderMill in your kitchen. Flour is also less expensive to mill yourself, and makes 8 cups of flour in two minutes. Be sure to store freshly-milled whole-grain flour in the freezer to keep it fresh. I also mill the rice flour used to flour the bowls and baskets with this mill.
- A glass or ceramic bowl for souring. My favorite is the lidded glass bowl shown in the video.
- Sourdough starter. I used this one, followed the instructions provided in the packet, fed it all-purpose flour for about a week until it was well established, and gradually fed it spelt until it became all spelt.
- A wooden or plastic spoon, or non-reactive stainless steal for mixing. Up your game with this Danish wood whisk. I adore mine.
- A bowl lined with a floured dish towel for proofing, or make your loaf gorgeous, darling, with a proofing basket.
- Bake your loaf in anything with a lid, but I'm telling you... Once you get a clay baker your bread will forever be better. They also make ridiculously delicious, moist roast beef/chicken/meat in general.
Rustic Sourdough Bread with Spelt Flour
Makes 1 loaf, takes 15 hours altogether but 10 minutes of your time
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 1/3 cup fed sourdough starter
- 5 cups spelt flour (organic is preferred)
- 1 scant Tablespoon Celtic sea salt (about 1 1/2 teaspoons if you are using table salt)
- (If I want bread for lunch or dinner, I start this process at 4:00 the afternoon before.) Pour water into mixing bowl. Heat honey until it's liquified and whisk into the water. Whisk starter into the water mixture.
- Mix salt into flour, then incorporate them into the water mixture. Stir and kneed until everything is really incorporated. Cover and set your timer for one hour.
- After an hour, remove lid and stretch the dough at every angle to activate gluten. Place dough back in bowl, cover with lid, and set timer to 30 minutes.
- Come back to your dough at 30 minutes and stretch again. Place back int bowl and cover again.
- After 30 minutes, pull the dough again. Place back in bowl, replace lid, and set timer for an hour.
- After an hour, it's time to pull the dough one last time, then replace lid and let sit overnight or 12 hours in a warm place.
- The next morning, after 12 hours of rising, heavily flour a bowl with a tea towel over it or a proofing basket with rice flour. Pick up the dough and form a smooth "top" the shape of your proofing bowl until it's nice and smooth and place the smooth part resting into the proofing basket or bowl. Cover and let rise for an hour and fifteen minutes.
- After it's been an hour and fifteen minutes, place baking vessel into the oven and set the oven to 500º. Once the oven has reached 500º, quickly and carefully remove baking vessel from oven and close oven. Quickly and carefully flip dough into the baker so that the bottom part is now facing upward. Score the dough with a really sharp knife or razor blade to guide the cracks in the crust. Place lid on the cooking vessel and place in oven. Immediately turn oven to 450º and bake for 35 minutes.
- After baking for 35 minutes, remove lid and let crust brown for 5-10 minutes. You want the crust to come out with a dark brown crust, and even little bits of blackening on the tips of where you scored the bread. Remove bread from baking vessel. You will know the bread is done when you knock it and it sounds hollow and the bottom of the loaf is dark brown.
- Sourdough should be fully cooled before eating, and the flavor doesn't peak until day two or three, but we have been known to be impatient and cut into a warm loaf, slathering it with grass-fed butter or (my personal favorite) eating it with a slice of organic raw white cheddar.