As I have said, over and over again, I do not consider myself much of a baker. My Mother and Brother hold that title in our Family. You must see the loaves of French bread my Brother creates in his kitchen. They are perfect! So, when I created an account on TikTok last summer, I came across this fabulous girl, Hannah. She was baking up the most incredible loaves of Artisan Sourdough Bread. Finally, I decided to try and make my own. Believe me, I have tried baking bread in the past. I am not ashamed to say, more often than not, it was a major fail.
Given all of this, I had no idea where to begin starting my sourdough starter. So, to Pinterest I ran for expert guidance. Luckily, I found Amanda’s ( I am Homesteader blog) recipe for Sourdough Starter. It looked easy enough. Not only did she provide the starter recipe, but also ideas on how to use the discard and so many other valuable links. Time management and patience are key to sourdough bread making. WE all got you! Oh, and yes, I did name my sourdough starter. Her name is Vegas. An ode to the name of our first goldendoodle and for luck!
This recipe will yield two beautiful loaves of Artisan Sourdough Bread. As I am writing this, I am experimenting with Sourdough Bread Bowls for my Broccoli Cheddar Cheese Soup. Using this same recipe, will yield five bread bowls.
TOOLS FOR MAKING SOURDOUGH BREAD
Keep in mind, making sourdough bread requires a huge investment of your time and the proper tools. Before you even begin, I suggest grabbing these items to ease the process. Some of these bread making tools you may have already on hand. For a complete kit, click here.
- Glass jar (Do not use metal as the metal may cause a negative reaction with the starter)
- Wooden spoons
- Filtered Water
- Pastry/Dough Scraper
- Bannetons (in your desired shape)
- Lame (for cutting)
- Kitchen scale
Lastly, you definitely need the proper bakeware. If you have an enameled cast iron pot like this one from Lodge, that will work perfectly. However, I decided to make the investment in The Challenger. Not only can you use this cast iron pan for bread making, but it’s also perfect for creating many other fabulous recipes (tons of recommendations on their website). Totally worth the price. As an added bonus, you will be supporting a U.S. based, family-owned business.
HOW TO MAKE A SOURDOUGH STARTER
As mentioned earlier, I followed Amanda’s recipe to create the sourdough starter, step-by-step. However, instead of making one starter, I actually made two at the same time. I did this for two reasons. One, I was filming the process for videos. So, I needed one for just the daily starter post and one for the final post of the overall process. Secondly, I wanted to give a starter to my Brother. It’s actually on its way to him as I am writing. Also, the starter will not be ready to create bread until the seventh day!
Keep in mind that you not be discarding until Day Three! After EVERY discard, you will be feeding in that same ratio of one-half cup flour and one-third cup filtered water. Please note, when I refer to water at anytime in the remainder of this recipe, I will always be referring to filtered water. My choice of flour for the starter was Unbleached King Arthur All-Purpose Flour. To make the Artisan Sourdough Bread, I used King Arthur’s Unbleached Bread Flour and Whole Wheat Flour. Refer to this article from Serious Eats for more information on what types of flours are best, and can be used for sourdough starters.
DAY ONE AND TWO
On Day One, in a glass jar (I used a 16-ounce ball jar), combine one-half cup flour with one-third cup of water. Mix with a wooden spoon. Cover loosely with a paper towel and seal with a rubber band. Store in the warmest part of your home. Check back in 24 hours.
On Day Two, feed the mixture by adding another one-third cup of water and one-half cup of flour to the same jar. Someone was so kind to mention to add the water first for ease of mixing. Mix and cover for another 24 hours.
By Day Three, the mixture should be grabbing up the bacteria from the environment and creating a science experiment. You should notice bubbles. If you notice bubbles, discard half of the starter. As mentioned earlier, Amanda gives several suggestions on what to do with the discard. My discard was used to make Sourdough Crackers, Sourdough Muffins and Sourdough Bagels. Also, you can just throw it away, or use the discard as a starter, and gift it to someone. Feed again using the same measurements (1/3 C water and 1/2 C flour). Cover loosely and check back in another 24 hours. Be sure to watch my short video of Day Three.
DAYS FOUR, FIVE AND SIX
Over the next few days, you will be discarding AND feeding twice a day. Do this at least eight hours apart. After discarding and feeding on Day Four, I would suggest transferring the starter to a larger jar. Honestly, I even changed the jar on Day Six. Discarding and feeding twice a day, over these three days, can really make the jar kind of crudy on the sides. Also, I combined all of the discards in jars and placed them in the fridge to make the crackers and muffins. All told, I had almost three jars of discard.
It’s Day Seven!!! You should have a very healthy, and active sourdough starter. Guess what? You can finally make Artisan Sourdough Bread! The sourdough starter should start to smell “yeasty” around day three. If at any point, your starter has a really bad, almost “rotten-like” smell, you should probably start the entire process over. Amanda has some really great advice in her comment section regarding what to do if this happens. Also, she can answer any questions about what to do if you miss a discard/feed.
If you are not ready to make sourdough bread on Day Seven, you can either store the starter in the fridge and discard/feed once a week. Or, place the starter on the counter and discard/feed twice daily. You will NOT be using all of the starter for making sourdough bread. This is how some families have been able to keep a starter going for generations.
For all questions about how to maintain the sourdough starter, by either method mentioned above, refer to this article from King Arthur Flour. The article also provides you with insight on how to prep the starter for baking if it has been maintained in the fridge. See what I mean? A lot goes into this process!
LET’S MAKE ARTISAN SOURDOUGH BREAD
TO LEVAIN, OR NOT TO LEVAIN
As mentioned earlier, I needed all the help I could get from the experts. During my research, I became acquainted with levain. Somehow, I just knew I wanted to create a levain with my starter. Technially, levain is a starter. Honestly, I really did not even need to take this extra step. However, I am extra fancy! So, if you wish NOT to build a levain with the starter, you can skip this step entirely and just use the sourdough starter. For all there is to know about a levain, click here! It’s not just for making bread.
To prepare my levain, and to ultimately create the most perfect loaves of Artisan Sourdough Bread, I utilized this recipe from Joshua Weissman. He was featured on a segment of Babish’s Culinary Universe on YouTube. Click here to watch the full tutorial. Follow these steps! Yes, I had to watch over, and over again. Paused numerous times and hit the rewind button, quite often. You get my point. Not only did these two guys make baking sourdough bread making easy, but they are quite a funny pair.
Regardless of whether or not you are creating a levain, time management (and a ton of patience) is key to creating the most perfect Artisan Sourdough Bread. Once the loaves are nicely tucked inside the bannetons, they must be refrigerated for at least 12 to 15 hours prior to baking. Of course, this means pulling the dough together the day before. If you are utilizing a levain, the levain must rest (covered) for five hours. For me, I started around noon the day prior to baking. With the levain, mixing the flours, incorporating the levain, folding the dough, and shaping, my loaves were in the fridge by 8pm.
PREPPING AND BAKING ARTISAN SOURDOUGH BREAD
The next day, place the baking vessel into the oven as it preheats to 500°. The pan needs to be super hot. Allow the pan to heat up for about an hour. Dust with flour. Very carefully, transfer the molded dough from the bannetons into the floured pan. Dust with flour and create designs using a lame. Cover and bake at 500° for 20 minutes. Remove lid. Reduce heat to 450° and bake uncovered, for another 20-25 minutes. The levain I created incorporated wheat flour, so I was able to achieve a beautiful caramel-colored crust. Cool on wire rack for at least an hour prior to cutting.
For a quick summary of how I created amazing Artisan Sourdough Bread loaves from start to finish, click here! I’m so very thankful for Amanda and Joshua for sharing their recipes and to one lovely couple for creating The Challenger! Buy one ASAP!
Good luck! I anxiously await seeing your beautiful loaves of Sourdough you will create in your very own kitchen. Go for rustic and misshapen. Imperfection is perfection to me!
SOURDOUGH BREAD BOWLS
As I am writing this blog, I’m also busy making sourdough bread bowls to house my Broccoli Cheddar Soup tonight. Utilizing the same dough recipe, I used 5″ round bannetons to mold the dough. They came out so cute. Honestly, I can’t wait to make the soup tonight. However, I will probably try 7″ round bannetons the next go round. I would have preferred the bowls a bit larger.
Of course, I created a short video on TikTok making these beauties. Click here to view!
Not only did I use these sourdough bread bowls for soup, but I also made one to house my Cheesy Spinach Dip. Actually, I fancied the bread bowl up just a bit. Cannot wait to serve my Creamy Tomato Basil Soup in this one!
LET’S GET SOCIAL!
I am more than just recipes. I love fashion and style too! Most importantly, I love my Family (my Hubby and my Fur Babies). My Husband (aka my “Kitchen Bitch”) means the world to me. He’s pretty damn cool too. Not only is he one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, he also has had a lengthy career in professional hockey. Not only winning two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early ’90’s, but most recently winning the Calder Cup with the Charlotte Checkers, amongst many other accolades. If you live in Charlotte and play hockey, or have a family member who plays, be sure to contact him. He is known as one of the best skate sharpeners in the world!
Our life has changed dramatically in the past few years with the passing of our two goldendoodles, Vegas and Viva. We were lucky enough to have Vegas for five years (totally wish it was longer). Most recently, losing our Viva to a brain tumor in July of 2020. We welcomed our mini goldendoodle 7, almost seven years ago. We just added the amazing Hazel! Of course, I am always posting tons and tons of photos! Be sure to check out my recipe for Pet Bone Broth! This broth is super rich in nutrients and will provide your pet with a multitude of health benefits!
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