Sourdough Bread Part 1: Cloche Baking & Making Your Own Starter

As I sit here and type this post, I almost feel like an expectant mother on the day of her baby’s arrival. All this hard work and the day has finally arrived to share with the world my findings. This post has truly been a year in the making and I can not begin to guess at the pounds and pounds of bread dough that have been made during recipe testing. Not to mention the many “science experiments” that have grown on my kitchen counter in an attempt to create the perfect homemade starter. My family certainly hasn’t complained at all the test loaves they’ve been able to enjoy but I’m beginning to feel like I will slip into a carb coma at any moment. In this post I will show you an easy way to make your own starter and share with you a basic sourdough recipe. This recipe produces a slightly sour flavor and is more artisan in its shape. I will continue to work on a sourdough sandwich loaf and a recipe that can be used to make hamburger buns. Those will be posts for another day. Okay, its time to dive in!

 For years I’ve been trying to make my own sourdough starter with my home milled flour. We never could get the flavor to be just right. We tabled the whole thing until a few months ago I was watching the Netflix Original Series “Cooked”. The episode “Air” was devoted to yeast, bread, grain and sourdough. Needless to say I was encouraged and rejuvenated to try again. I read books and articles and then tested, tested, and tested again. Not only did this starter recipe work with my home milled flour, but it also worked perfect with store bought whole wheat and white flour. The trick was using the Kefir Juice. In my recent post Sourdough Prequel: Kefir Juice Starter, I introduced you to naturally fermented juice as a way to get all that wonderful healthy bacteria into your digestive system. This is also a perfect ingredient for making your own sourdough starter as many sourdough starters recommend using fresh grapes or even apple peels to make your starter. Here is the starter recipe and then we will continue with the dough recipe.

3-Day Whole Wheat Starter

White flour or store bought whole wheat flour may also be used.

STARTER INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole wheat flour (I prefer hard white wheat flour)

1 cup juice kefir (I prefer a grape juice kefir)

DAILY FEEDING INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup juice kefir

DAY 1:

Combine STARTER INGREDIENTS together in a glass bowl or plastic container. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 4-6 hours. Proceed to next feeding.

2nd Feeding:

Uncover starter and whisk in FEEDING INGREDIENTS. Cover with the cloth and let rest for 4-6 hours. Proceed to next feeding.

3rd Feeding:

Uncover starter and whisk in FEEDING INGREDIENTS. Cover with the cloth and let rest at room temperature for 8-12 hours or overnight.

DAY 2 & 3:

1st Feeding:

Uncover starter and whisk in FEEDING INGREDIENTS. Cover with the cloth and let rest for 4-6 hours. Proceed to next feeding.

2nd Feeding:

Uncover starter and whisk in FEEDING INGREDIENTS. Cover with the cloth and let rest for 4-6 hours. Proceed to next feeding.

3rd Feeding:

Uncover starter and whisk in FEEDING INGREDIENTS. Cover with the cloth and let rest at room temperature for 8-12 hours or overnight.

DAY 4: BAKING DAY!!

Uncover starter and feed one more time with FEEDING INGREDIENTS.

Cover with the cloth and let rest about 4 hours. Once rested, mix starter and measure out the amount needed for your recipe. Place the remaining starter in an airtight container, feed with a small amount (1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup juice kefir) and place in the refrigerator for later use. By placing the starter in the refrigerator, you are letting it go dormant. The starter will need to be fed once per week if you plan to leave it dormant for a longer period of time. To feed and keep dormant starter, remove any liquid that has risen to the top, discard half remaining starter and feed with a small amount (2 Tbsp. flour and 2 Tbsp juice kefir or water). Directions for waking your dormant starter for baking are located at the bottom of this post.

Starter on BAKING DAY. This has been fed and rested for 4 hours and is now ready to use in your sourdough recipe.
Starter on BAKING DAY. This has been fed and rested for 4 hours and is now ready to use in your sourdough recipe.

 

At the very bottom of the post you will find instructions on how to use a dormant starter. Don’t forget, it will need to be fed for a few days before you use it again so give yourself a few days of feeding before baking day.

Okay, so now we have our starter and we are ready to move on to making our sourdough bread. Now, traditionally sourdough bread is about a 24 hour process with an overnight rising. I have tested this recipe baking it the same day, as well as having an overnight rising. I can honestly say that letting the dough rise overnight brings out the sour flavor and gives you a beautiful crumb (this refers to the internal texture of a slice of bread). A sourdough crumb is typically full of holes caused by all the air bubbles in the dough. It will also have a spongy texture with a crispy outer crust.

The mixing, kneading, rising and shaping process is a little different than My Favorite Yeast Bread Recipe, so I’ve taken a few pictures to give you some tips and maybe help explain this new technique.

Sourdough
Be sure to weigh your ingredients. You will get a more consistent recipe this way. The lid to your Ankarsrum Stainless Steel Bowl is perfect to weight your flour!

 

This recipe has 2 separate mixing/kneading cycles. On this first 4 minute mix/knead, you can see how much the texture changes from the beginning to just 4 minutes of mixing. Then you let the dough rest for 15 minutes. The image on the far right has already doubled in size in just 15 minutes. Now time to add the salt and proceed to the official 12 minute knead cycle.
This recipe has 2 separate mixing/kneading cycles. On this first 4 minute mix/knead, you can see how much the texture changes from the beginning to the end with just 4 minutes of mixing. Then you let the dough rest for 15 minutes. The image on the far right has already doubled in size in just 15 minutes. Now time to add the salt and proceed to the official 12 minute knead cycle.

*I want to note something about using the roller here instead of a dough hook. Some recipes I read instructed to knead dough until it reached a particular temperature. Kneading with a dough hook causes friction which in turn creates heat. The roller does not create friction so kneading until the dough reaches a particular temperature won’t really work when using the roller. I found that using 110 degree water and room temperature starter made perfect dough without having to worry about the temperature. I also find that the roller/scraper combo does a much better job of kneading and combining ingredients. 

As you can see, the roller is positioned far enough away from the side of the bowl to prevent the dough from coming up and out but it is close enough to apply gentle pressure to the dough as to effectively knead the dough. After 12 minutes of kneading, the dough is slightly sticky but has a beautifully kneaded texture. Time to rise!
As you can see, the roller is positioned far enough away from the side of the bowl to prevent the dough from coming up and out but it is close enough to apply gentle pressure to the dough as to effectively knead the dough. After 12 minutes of kneading, the dough is slightly sticky but has a beautifully kneaded texture. Time to rise!
I love letting my dough rise right in the stainless steel bowl and the lid helps create the perfect moist environment for the dough. Top L: Dough has risen about 40 minutes. Top R: Punch the dough down. Bottom L: Pull the dough from the bottom and fold into the center, pressing down with the palm of your hand. Bottom R: Continue this lifting, folding, pressing technique all the way around the bowl. Then flip the dough over and allow to rise another 40 minutes. You will repeat this rising, punching, folding process a total of 3 times.
I love letting my dough rise right in the stainless steel bowl and the lid helps create the perfect moist environment for the dough. Top L: Dough has risen about 40 minutes. Top R: Punch the dough down. Bottom L: Pull the dough from the bottom and fold into the center, pressing down with the palm of your hand. Bottom R: Continue this lifting, folding, pressing technique all the way around the bowl. Then flip the dough over and allow to rise another 40 minutes. You will repeat this rising, punching, folding process a total of 3 times.
Once the dough has finished the 3 rising cycles in the bowl, take the dough out and shape your loaves. Place them on an oiled plate or wrap in a floured tea towel and let rest overnight in the refrigerator (Top L image). Top R: The following morning, remove tray from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (this takes about 4-5 hours). Preheat your cloche base or baking stone, score each loaf with whatever design you desire and generously spritz or baste with warm water. Place loaves on the hot cloche base or baking stone and follow baking instructions.
Once the dough has finished the 3 rising cycles in the bowl, take the dough out and shape your loaves. Place them on an oiled plate or wrap in a floured tea towel, cover and let rest overnight in the refrigerator (Top L image). Top R: The following morning, remove tray from the refrigerator and allow loaves to come to room temperature (this takes about 4-5 hours). Preheat your cloche base or baking stone, score each loaf with whatever design you desire and generously spritz or baste with warm water. Place loaves on the hot cloche base or baking stone and follow baking instructions.
Baked loaves
Baked loaves

 

All of these steps are explained again in the recipe below and I’ve included “quick baking” instructions as well. A home milled whole wheat version is also included. Now I’m off to enjoy a slice of sourdough bread with butter. Enjoy and happy baking!

PS: Carmi’s recent grilled cheese post is AMAZING on this sourdough!

Basic Sourdough

 

420g warm water (110°F)

320g sourdough starter, at room temperature (homemade or purchased)

1 Tbsp. gluten (optional)

762g bread flour (Whole Wheat version below)

1 Tbsp. instant yeast

17g salt

 

Yields: About 3 1/2 lbs of dough

 

Combine warm water, starter and gluten in the Ankarsrum stainless steel bowl and position the roller and scraper in place. Mix on the slowest speed just until water and starter becomes a thin batter. Slowly add all the flour and the yeast. Turn speed knob to about 1 o’clock and set the timer for 4 minutes. Adjust roller/arm about 2 inches away from the side of the bowl. Dough will almost immediately form a ball. Once the timer shuts off, remove the roller and scraper. Place the lid on the stainless steel bowl and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Once the dough has rested, sprinkle the salt over the dough and place roller and scraper back in position. Turn the mixer on and set speed to about 3 o’clock. Position the roller/arm about 3 inches away from the side of the bowl. Set timer for 12 minutes and allow to knead.

 

Traditional Sourdough Baking Instructions using a Cloche: Overnight Rising

Once the dough has kneaded, remove the roller, scraper and the dough. Place a small amount of oil in the stainless steel bowl and place dough back in the bowl. Cover with the lid and allow to rise for 40 minutes. Once risen, punch the dough down right in the middle. Pull the dough from the underneath side and fold into the middle. Repeat this all the way around the dough ball and then flip the ball over so the punched and folded side is facing down and a nice smooth surface is facing up. Replace lid and repeat this 40 minute rise, punching and folding process two more times for a total of three 40 minute rises.

After the third rise, remove dough from the bowl and place on a floured or oiled surface. Shape dough into desired shape. I prefer two oblong loaves. Wrap each loaf in a floured tea towel and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, unwrap the loaves and sit on a floured board to come to room temperature. This could take as much as 4 hours. In the last 30 minutes of rising, preheat oven along with cloche base to 500°F. The loaves will rise just a bit more. Score with a sharp knife or bread lame with desired design. Generously spritz with water and gently place loaves on hot cloche base. Place lid on the cloche base and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake an additional 5-10 minutes depending on the desired darkness of the crust. Remove baked loaf and place on a cooking rack. The sour flavor will intensify once the bread has cooled.

 

Quick Sourdough Baking Instructions using a Cloche: Traditional Method further down

Preheat oven along with a cloche base to 500°F. Once the dough has kneaded, allow to rest in the bowl about 15 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a floured or oiled surface. Shape the dough as desired. Score with a sharp knife or bread lame and place on a preheated bread cloche. Spritz with water, place the cloche lid on the base and bake for 20 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and bake an additional 5-10 minutes depending on the desires darkness of the loaf. Remove baked loaf and place on a cooking rack. The sour flavor will intensify once the bread has cooled.

Sourdough

Sourdough

Whole Wheat Version

420g warm water (110°F)

480g sourdough starter, at room temperature (homemade or purchased)

1 Tbsp. gluten (optional)

600g home milled flour (I recommend Hard White Wheat)

2 Tbsp. instant yeast

17g salt

Yields: About 3 lbs of dough

*Cooks Notes: I have found that when using 100% freshly milled whole wheat flour, a “sponge” method is needed to allow the natural gluten in the flour to develop before the actual kneading process begins.*

Combine warm water, starter and gluten in the Ankarsrum stainless steel bowl and position the roller and scraper in place. Mix on the slowest speed just until water and starter becomes a thin batter. Slowly add half the flour and the yeast. Turn speed knob to about 1 o’clock and mix just until combined. Turn machine off and cover with a towel or prop the white lid over the top of the Ankarsrum bowl. Allow to “sponge” for 45 minutes to 1 hours.

Once the dough as sponged, remove the towel or lid. Sprinkle the salt over the mixture and then slowly add the remaining flour, turning the machine on and setting the speed knob to about the 1 o’clock position. Once all the flour has combined, adjust the arm/roller about 1-2 inches from the side of the bowl, increase speed knob to about 3 o’clock and set the timer for 8-10 minutes.

Traditional Sourdough Baking Instructions using a Cloche: Overnight Rising

Once the dough has kneaded, remove the roller, scraper and the dough. Place a small amount of oil in the stainless steel bowl and place dough back in the bowl. Cover with the lid and allow to rise for 40 minutes. Once risen, punch the dough down right in the middle. Pull the dough from the underneath side and fold into the middle. Repeat this all the way around the dough ball and then flip the ball over so the punched and folded side is facing down and a nice smooth surface is facing up. Replace lid and repeat this 40 minute rise, punching and folding process two more times for a total of three 40 minute rises. *A bit of water on your hand will help the dough not to stick as badly*

After the third rise, repeat the punching and folding process one last time. Replace lid and let bowl sit overnight or 10-12 hours in a cool place. If you do not feel your kitchen counter is cool enough, you may place the bowl in the refrigerator but note that rise times before baking may be extended due to the dough coming up to temperature after being refrigerated.

Once the rise time is complete, remove dough from bowl and either divide into two small loaves or shape into one large loaf. Try not to press out all of the air bubbles but rather gently stretch and shape the dough into the desired shape. Allow to rest on a flour board while oven is preheating. If dough is coming out of the refrigerator, allow to come to room temperature (could take up to 4 hours).

Preheat oven along with the base of your cloche to 500°F. Once oven is preheated, score loaves with a sharp knife or bread lame with desired design. Generously spritz with water and gently place loaves on hot cloche base. Place lid on the cloche base and bake 35 minutes. Remove the lid and bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove baked loaf and place on a cooking rack. The sour flavor will intensify once the bread has cooled.

Cloche Notes:

For one large loaf, I prefer this Bread Cloche by Emile Henry.

For smaller loaves, I prefer this Dutch Oven by Reston Lloyd. as the smaller size helps the smaller loaf to rise up instead of spreading out.

I will continue to test measurements to see if I can achieve a tall loaf and the crumb I'm looking for.
As you can see, these loaves are not very tall but the crumb and taste is PERFECT! I will continue to test measurements to see if I can achieve a tall loaf and the crumb I’m looking for. If I succeed, I will share! *UPDATE: I now prefer the Reston Lloyd Dutch Oven for baking smaller whole wheat sourdough loaves. The link is listed above!

 

USING A DORMANT STARTER

Remove your starter from the refrigerator. Dump off any liquid that has risen to the top of the starter, discard half of the starter and begin 3 daily feedings for 2 days then proceed with directions for BAKING DAY!

Published by

Ashley McCord

Ashley has personally used the Ankarsrum for over 20 years, receiving her very own as a wedding gift in 1999. Continuing in the foot steps of her mother and grandmother, she enjoys cooking and baking for her busy family. She has a passion for whole grains, clean eating, and enjoys making everything from scratch. In 2012, Ashley became the Product Manager for the Ankarsrum Original Assistent here in the USA.