Easy Sourdough Bread

I love pinterest, but I reign in my desire to spend hours pinning cool and trendy photos and try to focus on things that I will actually try to do or make. I have a board called “Kait’s Kitchen” where I try to test out most of the recipes. Some have been great, and some have been failures. This one is fantastic after a second attempt. I found Averie’s recipe for easy sourdough bread that doesn’t require all the hard work of a starter!

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I had to adjust the recipe a little bit because of the humidity in South Carolina – the first time I made the bread, it didn’t rise enough and was way too wet. It still tasted good so I cubed it, stuck it on a tray, and toasted it in the oven to turn my failure into sourdough croutons. This time around, I got new yeast and kept out an extra cup of flour to add as needed.

What you need:
– A dutch oven (I have heard you can do this in a cast iron skillet or bakeware that has a lid – being able to cover it while cooking is what gives it that amazing crust)
– Parchment paper (to prevent the dough from sticking, do not use oil when baking it. oil = burnt bread)
– Time. It takes 6-8 hour for the dough to proof first, then you knead it, and let it proof for about another hour. It works well to start in the morning and finish for a late dinner (which is what I did).

Ingredients:
– 3+ cups of bread flour (I used King Arthur)
– a 17.6 ounce tub of plain greek yogurt with active cultures (I used fage 25%)
– about a half cup of sour cream
– salt to taste (I used sea salt, about a teaspoon)
– a scant teaspoon of instant yeast – do not use active dry because active dry requires proofing in water beforehand – for this recipe you need to add instant yeast to the dough directly

Directions:

– To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook (or use a large mixing bowl and wooden spoon and your hands), add the flour, Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup sour cream, salt, and yeast.

-Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to knead dough for about 5 to 7 minutes (about 7 to 10 minutes by hand using a wooden spoon and then switching to your hands). Add sour cream as needed to form a very moist and wet dough if it seems dry and crumbly. The dough will be heavy and wet, but it should come together and not be a gross blob (my problem the first time because of the humidity here). I added a little bit of extra flour as my dough hook did its work so that it came together to form a dough and not just gross blob-ness. Err on the side of wetter than drier because flour and yeast love moisture when rising.

-Remove dough from the mixing bowl, spray a large bowl with cooking spray, pat dough into a round ball, place it in the bowl, and flip it over once so it’s lightly oiled on both top and bottom. If you aren’t a cooking spray kind of person, you can use olive oil instead.

– Cover bowl with plasticwrap (spray it with cooking spray in case dough rises high enough to touch it) and place bowl in a warm, draft-free place to rise for about 6 to 8 hours (I did 7 hours), or doubled in size.

– After 6+ hours of rising, turn dough out onto a floured surface (without punching it down to preserve the air pockets and bubbles that have been created) and knead lightly for about 2 to 3 minutes. I had to remind myself to use bread flour to do this, so I am reminding you. USE BREAD FLOUR! :)

– Pat dough into a round mound, and place it back into large mixing bowl, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 120 minutes, or until doubled in size (I suspect the longer you let the second rise go, the more ‘holey’ the bread will be). It was 90 degrees in South Carolina yesterday, so my dough doubled very quickly. Placing the bowl on the stovetop is a nice spot for this rise because you’re going to turn on the oven and the residual heat emitted helps with rising if you are somewhere cooler than this famously hot city!

– Shortly after dough begins the 60-120 minute rising, turn oven on to 450F and place a covered Dutch oven (empty) or heavy-bottomed skillet into the oven and allow it to heat for about 45 minutes. Dutch ovens are so heavy and take so long to get truly hot, and when you’re ready to bake the bread, you want the Dutch oven screaming hot.

– After about 60-90 minutes or dough has doubled in size, remove Dutch oven from oven (careful, it’s screaming hot, use two pairs of hot mitts) and carefully place a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of Dutch oven to prevent bread from sticking.

– Carefully transfer dough from rising bowl to Dutch oven, cover it, and bake covered for 30 minutes. Don’t open the oven door or the Dutch oven lid to peek; you want to seal in the steam.

– After 30 minutes, uncover the Dutch oven, and allow bread to bake uncovered for 5 to 10 minutes or until it’s as browned as desired. Traditional sourdough has a darker crust than most bread.

– Remove Dutch oven from oven, and remove bread from Dutch oven. Place it on a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. As tempting as it is, don’t slice too early because the cooling process is important and should be considered an important extension of the baking process. Slice or break off hunks, and serve with honey butter, butter, jam, hummus, etc. Bread is best fresh, but will keep airtight at room temp for up to 3 days. Older bread may be better toasted.

I cheated and we ripped hunks off the warm loaf pretty quickly to eat with dinner. It was delicious with spatchcock grilled chicken (stuffed with limes and cilantro) and chili roasted asparagus. And a bottle of wine!

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