Anyone else been spending a lot more time in the kitchen these days? As hard as it’s been to be stuck indoors, one positive has been that I’ve had more of an opportunity to try new recipes and learn new things. If you follow along on Instagram Stories, maybe you’ve noticed! While I’ve dabbled in bread making in the past, I’ve actually never made sourdough bread. It requires a starter which was a little more intimidating to me. Like, what’s a starter and how do I start one?? I’ve picked up some tricks though in the last month that will hopefully inspire some of you to give bread making a try too! I’m still learning but I’m having a lot of fun with it!
Getting Started with Sourdough Bread
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Making sourdough bread from scratch can sure seem intimidating! But with the right tools and a few tips, it’ll be a piece of cake, or in this case, bread! Here’s a list of things you’ll need to get your sourdough bread started.
First you’ll need a sourdough starter! You can get this online, like this one from Amazon. This starter is what will make the sourdough bread rise, and it’s much easier to buy your starter than to make it from scratch! Alternatively, you can go to a local bakery and ask them if they’d share/sell you some. A lot of bakers are usually happy to share because otherwise they throw it away.
I like this clear, 4 qt container because it lets you see when the dough has risen and is ready to use. Judging when it’s doubled in a bowl is tricky, trust me!
I always thought these were just tea towels, and while you can use them to try dishes, they are really helpful when you’re making bread. They are used to cover your dough and also hold it in the proofing basket.
Measuring your ingredients on a digital scale is a crucial step for serious bread makers. Accurately measuring your ingredients will make the process so much easier and will give you the best results. Honestly, if you don’t have a digital scale I would wait until you have one before starting. All the recipes I’ve used call for a gram measurement and that just doesn’t translate to cups as well.
Bench scrapers are used to handle and shape the dough. It’s so much easier than flouring a surface and shaping by hand!
This is for transferring the dough to the Dutch oven. It makes the process much more seamless! Alternatively, you could pick up the dough with your hands but it wouldn’t hold its shape as well.
This is for slashing the dough before it bakes. They call this “scoring.” A simple line is usually good but if you can also get fancy with it! For Easter, I made a cross, and in the first image of this post I made a square design.
Dutch ovens are a necessity when baking sourdough, especially if you want that crusty on the outside, perfectly soft on the inside bread. Even the No-Knead recipe I’ve made calls for a Dutch oven. Apparently it creates the perfect cooking environment.
You’ll need a good quality, sharp bread knife in order to cut through that thick, crusty exterior!
If you don’t have any of these items already, you’ll definitely need them! Make sure the mixing bowl is on the larger side and that you have a pair of good oven mitts.
Extra Tip: Use Rice flour
Sprinkling a little bit of rice flour on the flour sack towel will help prevent sticking. It will also add a nice contrast between the tan color of the bread and the white flour!
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When it comes to recipes, start with this No-Knead recipe! It will give you a lot of confidence! Then, once you have your starter, try this recipe and method from Bon Appetit. It’s the sourdough recipe I’ve been mainly using, although last night I made the Sour Olive recipe from this How to Bake cookbook by Paul Hollywood. There are a bunch of yummy bread recipes in that cookbook that I can’t wait to try!