My sourdough ennui started a while ago, and it now seems more useful than ever! My first loaf of sourdough was the typical dense loaf that I happily ate because it seemed magical that I had baked it myself. Over time, and trial and error, I found myself eating loaves of bread that I enjoy. I recently made a Honey Sourdough Bread, and some of my friends asked me to write a blog post about it. I’m not an expert at sourdough baking, far from it, but I am happy to share what I’ve learned, some resources, and what works for me.
I will continue to update this post over time, or create a separate sourdough bread how-to page with updated information, as I learn new things that help me produce delicious loaves of bread. Let’s get started!
Looking for additional easy bread recipes? Try my Cranberry Rosemary Bread!
The starter is where the journey begins. Creating a sourdough starter seems like a complex undertaking, but the biggest ingredient seems to be patience. I created my sourdough starter with flour and water in a glass container last year, and the flavor has only improved over time. I mixed these ingredients and gradually nurtured my starter to life over a period of ten days. If you already have a starter, great! If not, don’t let that stop you. You can create your own starter!
You need to feed your starter with flour and water before you can bake bread with it. Here are a few photographs of my starter, before and after I fed it, for reference.
The last photograph shows my starter is active and bubbly. It’s ready to go!
I use bread flour, but I have also baked loaves with all-purpose flour when I was between trips to the market. I have noticed a difference between the two, but your bread will still be delicious if you use all-purpose flour! Ultimately, I recommend using a high-quality bread flour or strong flour with a high protein content.
You can use bottled or filtered water for your recipe. The key is to use water without chlorine in it. Additionally, when I bake my bread, I almost always use room temperature water. That may change at some point as I dive deeper into the nuances of bread making, but for now this is what works for me.
The Float Test
The float test seems simple, but when I first encountered this tip I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant or when it is done. The float test is a great way to gauge whether your starter is ready for bread making. When you feed your starter and it eventually doubles in size, you can remove a small portion of the starter and gently lay it on top of the water in a glass. If the starter floats, you are ok to begin baking. If it sinks, then you need to give it additional time or the window may have passed.
Making the Dough
When you first mix the ingredients you want a shaggy dough. This is what that looks like, see below.
After you let the dough rest, you will want to gently fold the dough a few times until it becomes more uniform.
This recipe is a lower hydration dough. It should be a little easier to work with, but it still requires a bit of finessing. I have a few tips that you may find helpful.
- Use a kitchen scale to weigh all of the ingredients into one bowl. It is an easier and more precise way to measure your ingredients.
- When you are mixing the dough or working with the dough, try to only use one hand and keep the other hand free and clean.
- Use a bread calculator to modify the recipe to suit your needs. According to this helpful tool, the total hydration for this bread recipe is 63.6%.
- When you need to transfer the dough to another container, consider using a spatula if you do not have a dough scraper.
- Consider using a Dutch oven to bake your bread. I feel like this makes the process easier. If you do not have a Dutch oven, you can bake your bread uncovered in an oven-safe skillet, just make sure you also include a baking pan with water in the oven because your bread will benefit from the steam.
- Need additional help shaping the dough? Here is a no-kneed example and an example of kneading the bread to shape the dough.
- Be patient, and try to have fun!
Honey Sourdough Bread
- Kitchen scale
- Mixing bowl
- Plastic wrap
- Spatula or dough scraper
- Parchment paper
- Dutch oven
- Wire rack
- Bread calculator (optional)
- 300 grams of bottled or filtered water
- 10 grams honey
- 100 grams active sourdough starter
- 500 grams bread flour
- 5 grams sea salt
- In a mixing bowl, combine the water, honey, and starter and mix to combine. Add the flour and salt. Using your hand, mix the ingredients together until combined into a shaggy dough and all of the flour has been absorbed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and rest for 30 to 40 minutes.
- In the bowl, stretch and fold the dough for about a minute and form it into a ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place to rise. Your dough needs to rise to twice its original size, which can take 4 to 12 hours.
- Stretch and fold the dough once or twice during the rise. Gently grasp the side of the dough and stretch it up and over on top of itself. Continue to rotate your dough and stretch and fold it a few times until you have stretched and folded all sides of the dough. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and leave it to rise for the remainder of the rise time.
- Remove the dough and fold and shape it as desired. Place the dough in a flour-coated bowl to proof and cover with plastic wrap for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450 F. Place your bread in your Dutch oven. Using a sharp knife or a razor, score the top of your dough. Put your Dutch oven in the oven with the lid on. Bake for 30 minutes and then remove the lid and continue baking for another 20 minutes or until you have achieved your desired crust color. Remove the bread from the oven and cool on a wire rack for an hour before serving. Enjoy!
A helpful online bread calculator.