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“The fermentation process that gives the bread its distinctive sour taste also makes it more gut-friendly. … The wild yeast and bacteria in a sourdough starter break down some of the carbohydrates and proteins found in flour, says Kate Scarlata, a Boston-based dietitian, and author of The Low-FODMAP Diet book. When the bread is made with fast-rising yeast, the bacteria don’t have time to do any pre-digesting.” (Source: www.bonappetit.com )
Sourdough bread is some times called wild bread or Levain bread. “I prefer to call it sourdough bread made with starter and levain”
OBS. Sourdough bread is not like natural Italian bread. The Italian bread is not sour as it is made with natural yeast cells only.
I decided to learn how to make sourdough bread. I have done 20 bread so far, some of them documented as posts under the category taste, you find these by clicking on the option taste under the menu option Horus Eye above or click here. I try on this main sourdough page to document what I have learned so far. I write in English so friends of mine who prefer to read in their own language can do so with google translate.
Sourdough bread is done in 6 steps. Step 5 and 6 are the most complicated.
I have made mistakes many times but always got good tasting breads. My main problem has been to get the right consistency. I recommend you to:
- look at the video several times, take notes
- and write down quantities and times, so you can look back and adjust quantities and times at the next bake.
I followed Tom’s method about 20 times.
I had however difficulties to get the correct stickiness with his stretching method and I never succeed with his finishing shape method. And complicating things were that I moved to Italy were I did not have a good starter.
From my 21st bake, I started following Alex’s method.
See my baking diary at the bottom of this page.
- History and Science
- Recipes are indicative
- 6 steps
- Making a starter
- Slower methods
- Other faster methods
- My baking diary
History and Science
An article in fitnesstogether.com discusses the benefits of sourdough and the history of it.
It says among others that
“Poorly-prepared and poorly-digested wheat (in white bread prepared with Baker’s yeast) is the chief contributor to the current plague of “gluten-intolerance,” obesity, diabetes, Candida diseases, and many allergenic conditions all of which contribute to the conditions that cause cancer.
Only when wheat gluten is properly fermented is it healthy for human consumption. When not, it is potentially one of the most highly allergenic foods we eat.” Many links to sources in this article are obsolete.
According www.healthline.com sourdough bread does not spike your blood sugar the way white and whole-grain bread does.
- the phytic acid is broken down allowing your body to absorb 18 different amino acids, B vitamins, iron, zinc, magnesium, and selenium.
- rates a 68 on the glycaemic index
- is able to resist mold
- has, after the fermentation process, pre-digested the starches in the wheat for us, making it easier to digest. (Source )
A warning is given in the article: “Many of the bread labeled as ‘sourdough’ at the store contain yeast in the ingredient list, which is a clear indication that it is not a true sourdough.”. In my personal experience, you can check that by asking of a piece of bread and smelling at the bread. It should smell acid.
The history and science of yeast is well described in www.dakotayeast.com/
Part of this history is also described in Lisa Rayner’s book “Wildbread” below. available on google books.
Recipes are indicative
Different kinds of flour absorb different quantities of water. The same flour behaves differently each year depending on sunlight and temp for the growing season. So never rely on levain recipes. They work for the flour, the recipe the author used. Flours from different countries are different. So in all stages my main rules are:
- Different kinds of flours absorb different quantities of water
- to adjust quantities to get the right consistency and humidity!
- take notes about flour type, flour, and water quantities you use, to be able to adjust and get a better result in your next sourdough making.
- iron pot with lid
- a digital balance (do not buy the cheapest)
- timer (Äggklocka in Swedish)
- A rubber scrape
- a plastic box with a lid
- bowls with lid
- at least one bread basket.
- kitchen towels
- baking paper
- baking paper (good to have
- kitchen towels
- rice flour
6 steps and a timetable
With a starter, the sourdough bread that Tom makes is created in 6 steps. I try to explain the reason for here:
- Make a levain. You want to have many lactobacilli before you let the yeast cells take over in your dough, to get the right acid taste and texture. The levain is like awakened and grown starter culture.
- Create the dough. You add more flour and water into the levain.
- Create protein chains by kneading, Stretch and folds. By kneading, stretching and folding, you create a lot of protein chains that make the bread porous and hold the carbon dioxide created by the yeast cells.
This can be done in several ways as Tom and Alex shows in their youtube (see below)
- Gain more acidity with a 8 hour rest in the refrigerator. It is not wrong to let it rest more.
- Yeast fermentation. Fermenting is done twice (5a, 5b) by Tom, in room temperture (17-27 degrees Celsius). Alex has only one fermenting session in room temp.
QKatie in the video below, calls the second fermenting “breadbasket and final shaping”. Yeast cells create carbon dioxide and bubbles.
- Cutting and Baking
QKatie and Alex in their video, start cutting the dough and lay it in the oven with high-temperature baking under a lid. Alex lower the temp to 220 when he lay the dog in the oven. But he lay the dough in a hot bowl.
When I followed Tom recipe, I used to start with a maximal temp under the lid 45 minutes or until getting a nice color and then lowered to 175 Celsius for another 45 minutes to get it fully baked.
About the timetable and weight
Start and end times are not emphasized in Katie’s video below.
Katie never tells about it when they started the different steps.
The procedure can be started in the evening or early in the morning. Whenever you start, the whole procedure to get a baked sourdough bread takes about 24 hours.
I suggest times starting with step 1, e.g. Friday or Saturday evening.
Following Alex method you can start on Friday evening and have a bread ready Saturday late evening.
I add information about volume in dl.
As you may know 1kg wheat flour is 1631.64 ml ~ 1.63 liter.
You will see that Tom divides the stretched dough into two parts and put these in the frig. QKatie shows the breadbasket format and bake for one of these doughs. So Toms gets really 4 loaves. You could make 2 smaller and 1 double size.
Starter -creating and taking care of it
To make sourdough bread you need a good starter. I have described how to make one in a separate page that is found under Horus – taste – starter.
Doing the sourdough bread – slower methods
When you have a starter, you can follow Tom who explains the whole procedure from making the levain until the baking, in the video.
Tom in Katie’s youtube videos below, gives you a good idea about levain and dough consistency. Look carefully at these. 🙂
I wrote down all the info below the video to make it possible for you to translate it into your language.
A FEW COMMENTS ABOUT TOM’S PROCEDURES
- As I do not have the same flour as Tom (King Artur) I adapt the ingredient proportions to get the right consistency.
- I also adapt the times for overnight rests for the levain (step 1) and dough in the refrigerator (step 4) to fit with other things I must do.
- the shorter rest times (after stretch (step 3) depends on the room temp you have.
- The time in the oven depends on the max temp you can achieve.
- Step 0. make/get a starter
- You have of course the tools I listed above
- get a starter from a friend or make one yourself. here I share how to make one. (OBS. The link opens another page)
Recipe and procedure copied from the video info and formatted to make it easier to read:
Step 1. make your Levain.
- 80 grams of white flour (ed. ~1,3 dl)
- and 80 grams of whole wheat flour. (ed. ~ 1,3 dl)
- Then add 160 grams (ed. ~ 1.6 dl) of water.
So equal parts flour and water — Levain is a 50/50 mix. Add a generous tablespoon of starter and mix it in.
Let sit for 8 hours. (ed. This allow bacteria to multiply)
Step 2. Make the dough
- Measure 1050 grams of water (ed. ~ 1 liter) and add it to a large container.
- Measure 300 grams of your Levain and add it to the water. Mix with your hands.
- Measure 1350 grams of white bread flour (Tom uses King Arthur) (ed. ~ 2 liter)
- This recipe calls for 150 grams of whole wheat flour.
- (ed. ~ 2,4 dl)
- Mix gently with your hands until the flour is well incorporated with the Levain/water mixture.
- Let sit for 25-40 minutes.
- Then add 30 grams of salt (ed. ~1,7 tablespoon) and an additional 75 grams of water (ed. ~5 tablespoons)
- Get the water and salt mixed in with the dough, using your hands —
which you’ve damped beforehand to prevent the dough from sticky to them.
- He scrapes the dough away from the sides then
- begins stretching.
Step 3. Stretch and fold the dough
- Stretch from 12 o’clock and pull it down to 6 o’clock (rotate a quarter and
- repeat, until you’ve stretched the dough 4 rotations), repeat for a total of 4 times every 30 minutes.
- Then put onto a floured tabled and cut in half.
He weighs each half to make sure they’re the same weight.
Cover and keep in the fridge overnight.
Step 4. Yeast fermenting
(Ed. this procedure is made for each dough. the second dough can be taken out later.)
- The next morning take it out of the fridge about a half-hour before you want to work with it.
(ed. You have two bowls with dough. You can take out the second one even 6 hours later to get 4 smaller breads)
The dough will have some air bubbles in it, but don’t expect it to have risen double it’s size — that’s typical of other bread recipes, but not of sourdough.
- Now you’ll cut that in half and weigh it to make sure both halves are even.
- Get ready for the dough to be quite sticky here, which is why you want to cover your hands with flour,
- then gently shape each half into a circle/disk. Put it on the counter in a warm, draft-free place and cover with a cloth.
- Let rest for 25 minutes.
Step 5. final shaping in breadbasket
- Then it’s time for bread baskets and final shaping.
- Sprinkle flour over the bread baskets — 1 part rice flour and 1 part bread flour.
- Flour your hands and stretch the dough. Stretch every 4 sides out then over, and then one final fifth time. Add to the bread baskets you’ve prepared and place in the same draft-free spot it was in, and cover.
- Let rest for an hour to two hours — depending on temperature.
- It’s ideal if the area is 85 degrees. >
(Should be no less than 80 degrees, no warmer than 90 degrees).
- (Ed. this temp is given in Fahrenheit unit- So the temp should be in between 17 – 27 celsius).
Step 6. Baking
- Now Tom heats up his cast iron holders in the oven at 550 degrees(Ed. ~450+37 C = 487 Celsius), or as hot as your oven will go.
- He adds some of the rice flour/white flour combo on top of the bread so his finger doesn’t stick when he does this test:
- he pokes the dough and if the indentation stays, it’s ready.
- If it bounces back, it’s not ready.
- Then he adds a layer of the rice flour/white flour mixture on top.
- Invert the dough onto a pie or tart pan’s circular bottom and
- he brushes off the excess flour
with his handy invention of a razor blade on a coffee stirrer (you’ve gotta check out this part of the video, if you haven’t yet!)
- He uses that same tool to create the design on top of the bread. Turn the oven down to 450(Ed. ~350+37 C = 387 Celsius).
- Then he adds it to the cast iron pan and covers it.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- At that point you’ll want to remove the lids,
- and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Remove the beautiful bread you just baked, and let cool on a wire rack.
“Masterbakers stew bread” by Mattias (Swedish speech) (~15 hours)
Mattias does a sourdough bread in a different way. He has 250-gram levain ready maybe overnight.
He sprinkles the salt directly over the dough after the first rest. He folds the dough and let it rest.
he has the dough in a breadbasket overnight
The recipe is available in the video information on Youtube in Swedish. I translated it to English below.
NB. Mattias had 30 g levain ready when he starts making the dough.
How to do:
- Add 250 gram levain in 450 gr water. Mix with your hand.
- Add flour 730 g stone wheat flour
- and mix with hands
- Let the dough rest for at least 30-40 minutes under cellophane in room temperature.
- Sprinkle on the salt.
- With wet hands get the salt mixed into the dough.
- Make 4 folds for 60 minutes (every quarter in 1 hour).
- Let rest covered with cellophane.
- Leave to rest for about 1.5-2 hours
- Form the bread and put it on a floured canvas in a basket overnight.
- Put it in the fridge 12-18 hours
- Let it rest Heat the oven up to 250 Celsius, heat up a pot with lid for about 10-15 minutes.
- Put the dough in the pot and cut the bread, then put on the lid and put in the oven.
- Remove the lid after half time,
- bake a total of at least 45 minutes.
Look at the video a few times to get an idea of the procedure.
I am not convinced about doing sourdough faster. The lactobacilli have to grow before the yeast cells take over. You may want a sour bread.
I share these video however to show how you can do sourdough if you e.g. forgot to start early with the levain.
Sebastien.’s method without stretching –
make a sourdough in less than 6 minutes (in Swedish)
Sebastien Boudet tells in Swedish with a transcript in French. How to make a levain in 6 Minutes?
These are really 6 minutes work without thinking about a night of rest and the bake. He does. He does not make the 4 stretches that Tom does. I have not tried to follow Sebastien. Look and compare.
I am applying several of his advices since sourdough 22). Among others the idea to have the dough in the oven with a light and using his mnemonics (Flour amount adjusted however for Italian flour)
1 tablespoon of starter
- 100 gr warm water
- 100 gr bread flour
In the cold oven with temp off and light on, for about 1 hour 45 minutes or until the test below is passed.
The levain floating test
(he calls the levain sourdough. It is ready when:
- When it is bubbly
- and pass the floating test
Making the dough
He uses this mnemonic:
- 1 part sourdough (200 gr)
- 2 parts water (400 gr = 0,4 lit),
- 3 parts flour (600 gr).
Mix well with hands.
Rest 1 (30-60 min) covered with cellophane for 30-60 minutes at room temp.
This is important so the flour absorbs all water.
Working 2 – grab smash pull
- Add 12 grams salt and a tablespoon (“splash”) of water.
Dissolve the salt.
- Work the dough as he shows in the video:
- lift in the middle
Do this 10 minutes or until the dough is elastic, tacky but not sticky.
Rest 2 (4 hours room temp)
Let the worked dough rest 4 hours in a warm environment with the lid on in a bucket.
- flip the dough on a unfloured countertop
- Sprinkle the dough
- and flip it
Working 3 edge folding
(To build surface tension.)
With quick movements
fold the 4 edges to the center,
until you get a rough ball.
Rest 3 (30 min room temp)
Rest for another 30 minutes covered on the table.
It will flatten slightly to a pancake shape
Now Sprinkle it with flour and flip it.
Working 4 bottom top left-right folding
(To build surface tension.)
- Fold the bottom to almost top
- Fold the right to almost left
- Fold the left to almost right
- Fold the top to bottom.
- Fold the bottom to almost top
- Roll it up
use your hands or a flat knife and slowly but firmlypush the dough in all directions
Rest 4 in floured bowl (30 min room temp)
50% rice flour, 50 % wheat flour)
Dust the bowl and dough ball
put the dough upside down in the basket
Dust the dough with flour mix and cover
Rest 4 Cool it in the refrigerator overnight.
Last procedure and bake
Take it out 2 hours before working with it.
- Heat up the pot in the oven at 250 C.
- Flip the dough upside down on a floured plate.
- Remove the flour on the top with a brush.
- Place the dough as gentle as possible without burning yourself
- Cut the dough twice with low angle.
- Spray the dough with water
- Put immediately the hot lid back on the pot
- Put the pot with the dough in the oven and.
- Lower to 220 C.
- Keep the lid on 25 minutes
- Remove the lid
- Bake another 25 minutes.
My baking diary
You find all my logs choosing the category “Sourdough”.
I were satisfied with:
- sourdough 3 (in Sweden following Tom)
- Sourdough 4 (in Sweden following Tom)
- Sourdough 5 (in Sweden following Tom)
- Sourdough 6 (in Sweden following Tom)
- sourdough 8 (in Sweden following Tom)
- sourdough 9 (in Sweden following Tom)
- sourdough 11(in Italy following Tom)
- sourdough 22 (in Italy following partly Alex)
- sourdough 23 (in Italy following partly Alex)
- sourdough 24 (in Italy following Alex)
- Sourdough 25
- sourdough 26 (in Italy following partly Alex)
- Sourdough 29 (in Italy following partly Alex and Tom)
- Sourdough 30 (in Italy following partly Alex and Tom)
- Sourdough 34
I made a table where I compare Alex and Tom’s method:
Rest. (total 790 min= 13.2 hours)
Rest. (total 815 min= 13.6 hours)
|Create the dough||Mnemonic proportions (Alex, 1l-2w-3f)||Receipt for King Arthur flour|
|Rest 1 (40 min)
|Rest 1 (24-40 min)
between 4 stretches.
|Stretching 1||Add 12 salt and a table spoon water
10 min with: turn. grab, turn, smash, pull, role)
|4 Stretches (5 min each)
and 4rests (2 hours total)
2 hours with 4 stretches and 30 min pause after each)
Salt added before second stretch.
(overnight, 8 hours)
| Rest 2
(4 hours in oven)
out 30 min before working
|Create surface tension
Breadbasket and final shaping
format to loave
|Drop dough on unflowered table
flour it and flip it
Quick movements!Fold the Edges in the center
until you get a rough ball.Rest 3
on table covered with cellophane
until pancake shapeFolding 2
Sprinkle the dough and flip it upside down
Final loaf shaping
Push the loaf with knife in all directions.
Feel the surface tension
|shape dough unto loaves
Rest 8: 25 min covered in warm place.
Form gently into loave.
in floured bucket.
|Rest overnight (8 hours)
Put loaf in floured bucket.
Cover with handkerchief.
in the fridge
|rest 9: 1-2 hours in warm place
until Poke indentation stay there
|Rest 4+||out 2 hours before working or until elastic surface.
2 hours before using it or when dough bounces back when gently poking it,
|Baking preparation||Ove at max temp.
Brush away extra flour.
Dough into the hot bowl
Spray water over–
|Oven at max temp.
Brush away extra flour.
Brush away extra flour.
|Baking with lid||lower to 220 C.
|lower to 230 C.
Bake 20 min
|Baking without lid||35 min||Bake 20 min|
It is very difficult to compare these two methods.
I followed at the beginning Tom but never succeeded to follow his bread basket shaping. I got however very good bread with a clear sour taste.
Last year (we are in 2021), I looked at Alex’ Youtube, again. I liked his kneading and folding techniques. His suggestion to use the oven with the lamp lit during some resting /fermentation) periods and his mnemonics, also attracted me.
I decided to follow his method with bake 24. And that bake became my first total bake disaster. I had to throw the bread in the compost.
I found however the reason for the mistake and then I got good bread.
But these “Alex bread” have yet not got the clear sour taste, I got with Tom’s bread” (I am now doing my 26:th bread bake) but I continue to investigate this.