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If you’ve been following my journey, you know that my husband Daniel and I have switched our entire life over to non toxic, clean living. You can read more about the different ways we have done that in my post entitled “Your Simple and Complete Guide to Non-Toxic Living”. But for this post, I want to walk you through one specific change we have made- and that is how to make homemade sourdough bread!
It’s important to note that even though Daniel has Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, he is not technically celiac intolerant. However, if you are celiac intolerant, you can still make your own homemade sourdough bread! Either find yourself a great gluten free flour, or you may want to check out this resource on einkorn wheat. Much of the reason our bodies can’t tolerate gluten today has more to do with the way our bread is processed than the actual gluten itself. Crazy right?!
Ok, now let’s get into the nitty gritty of how to make homemade sourdough bread!
Why Homemade Sourdough Bread?
Due to the fermentation process in the making of Sourdough bread, it is quite possibly the healthiest form of bread. Sourdough bread is higher in nutrients, prebiotics and probiotics, and has ingredients that aid in higher mineral absorption. (Source) The gluten in sourdough bread has been broken down more than regular bread, which can make it easier on the digestive tract.
Yes, you can buy sourdough bread from the store. However, even sourdough bread from the store may be more processed than homemade sourdough bread. In order to enjoy the full nutritional benefits, I recommend learning how to make your own homemade sourdough bread.
You can replace every form of bread in your diet with sourdough. Pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, garlic toast- you name it! Whatever types of carbs you currently eat can be swapped for this healthy alternative!
What You Need
In order to make a loaf of bread, you will need to first have sourdough starter. If you know someone who makes their own sourdough bread, you could borrow some starter from them to get yours up and running. If not, no worries! You can order some starter packets right here on Amazon, or make it from scratch.
Feeding the Starter
Feeding the starter to have an endless supply of homemade sourdough bread is super simple! All you have to do is simply add equal parts of flour and water to the starter and mix it in with a wooden spoon.
The only thing you have to remember is to not add more water or flour than what is already in the jar. For example, if you only have ½ cup of starter in the jar, don’t add 1 full cup of flour and water. Stick with ¼ cup flour and ¼ cup water.
I keep my starter in a tall empty pickle jar to keep it from bubbling over when it feeds. After you add the equal parts water and flour, mix well and cover with a breathable lid- I use a coffee filter held in place with a rubber band. Then simply leave it alone for the next 6-8 hours and let the starter work its magic!
Here is the recipe myself and many of my mom friends use for our sourdough bread (with a few tweaks that I have found helpful):
¾ Cup of Starter
2 Tablespoons of Raw, Organic Honey
1 ½ Teaspoon Salt
1 ¼ Cup Warm Water (if starter is in the fridge, use hot water)
2 ½ + Cups of Organic Flour (You will continue to add flour as needed through the kneading process)
Mix all ingredients together with a spoon (it will be very sticky!)
Let dough sit for 20 mins
Add up to 1 cup of flour as you knead with hands until the dough sticks to itself and is soft and smooth. Dust top with flour and let rise in a well greased bowl 6 hours minimum. Fold dough once while rising in order to help bubbles form
Bake in a dutch oven for 20 mins at 400 degrees. Turn oven off, coat top of bread with butter or coconut oil, cover and put back in oven
Allow loaf to fully cool before slicing (allows it to fully cook on the inside while staying soft on the outside
Cooking the Sourdough Bread
Cooking sourdough bread can be a bit tricky at first- but I promise, once you figure out what works for you, it will be so easy you’ll be whipping up batches of sourdough bread without a care in the world!
I probably botched my sourdough bread for an entire year before I made a successful loaf, all because I just followed the recipe and didn’t understand why it wasn’t cooking properly. So in this post, I will give you some tips and tricks to navigate how to cook it and how to fix some of the common issues just incase your dough doesn’t turn out!
Tip 1: The Knead
A successful loaf of homemade sourdough bread begins with the knead. In order for your dough to rise well, it can’t be too sticky or too dry. When I’m adding my flour per the recipe, I air on adding less right away, just to make sure it stays on the sticky side.
After letting it sit for 20 mins, I carefully add more flour until the dough is the right consistency. I don’t want the dough to stick to my hands, but I also don’t want it to be too dry or dense. Once it’s not sticking to my hands, I form it into a ball that is smooth and soft and I dust the outer surface with flour.
Tip 2: The Rise
I let my dough rise in the same pot that I cook it in: a cast iron dutch oven. But you can let it rise in a regular bowl as well. Once the dough is formed and floured, I set it in a very well greased bowl to rise. (I grease my bowl with organic olive oil, and cover with a damp tea cloth).
Now we wait. How long you wait will depend on how warm of an environment your dough is in.
I live in the midwest where it’s either freezing outside during the fall, winter, and spring, or freezing inside during the summer because the AC is blasting.
So, in order to get my dough to rise well, I turn the oven on warm and place it over the exhaust burner so that it gets warm enough for the rise to be activated. Make sure it isn’t so warm that the dough starts baking however!
After at least 6 hours, your dough should be doubled in size- but if not, you can continue to let it rise. Once it’s at least doubled (if not tripled) in size, you can flour your hands up and fold the dough. (This allows air bubbles to form that make it light and fluffy when it cooks verses hard and dense.) I fold it over once and reform the dough- you may have to add some flour at this time to get the same soft, non-sticky consistency again.
Then, you let it rise one more time. Again, how long it needs to rise will depend on how warm/humid your surroundings are. Sometimes I let mine rise overnight, 8 hours or longer. The key is to just check on it and see when it has doubled or tripled in size. You don’t want to let it rise so long that it collapses, so once you see that it is full and big, then you can take the next step of baking it!
Baking the Bread
Before you bake it, slash the top of the dough three times with a knife, then add a dash of water to the top. This will help the bread stay moist and not get hard and crusty on the outside.
Like I said before, I cook mine in a dutch oven. The benefit of the dutch oven is that it cooks the inside of the bread thoroughly without the outside getting too hard. I had serious issues with the inside not being done but the outside being hard as rock when I first started baking my own bread, so that’s why I switched to this method.
I cook mine at 400 for 20 mins. Then I take it out and butter (or coconut oil) the top. I cover it and place it back in the oven and turn off the oven. I let the dough completely cool in the oven before opening it again. (I know, the wait can be rough! I suggest cooking it right before you go to bed, so that you can let it sit in the oven all night cooling and then you can have fresh bread in the morning!) If you cut the bread before it cools, you may be interrupting it from fully cooking on the inside.
Once the bread is cooled, you can pop it out of the dutch oven and slice it for all to eat! Sourdough bread tastes amazing plain, toasted, used as garlic bread, or it makes especially yummy french toast! I love making pizza dough with it as well, and I am currently experimenting with sourdough cinnamon rolls! (Blog posts for that coming once I have it down!)
My toddler is obsessed with homemade sourdough bread- we have to hide it at supper time otherwise she refuses to eat her other food! I don’t mind letting her have her fill because I know that she is getting important probiotics that are aiding in a healthy digestive system! It’s a much better feeling than knowing she’s just filling up on empty carbs.
A few more tips:
If you don’t have a dutch oven (this is my preferred way of cooking- it’s the only way that’s ever worked for me!) I know some people who use a pizza stone, or you can cook it in bread tins and cover with a cookie sheet.
You may have to fiddle with the cooking times and temperature based on what you bake it in and how hot your particular oven is. 400 for 20 mins in a dutch oven has worked for me no matter what oven I’ve used, but making bread is unfortunately not an exact science!
There are lots of variables that can affect how your bread turns out- but like I said before, once you figure out a system that works for your oven, you’ll have it down pat! Making sure that the bread cools completely is a big factor in making sure it cooks fully on the inside!
I’d love to hear in the comments how your bread turns out if you try this recipe! If you got value from this, I would so appreciate it if you would share this post with your friends so they can try it too!