When I first set out to make sourdough bread, I tried to wing it - which in hindsight was a silly thing to do - and each time I would start with gusto, only to be met with little to no bubbles in my flour and water mixture.
A part of me wanted to throw in the towel. After all, there were so many successful home bakers, and sourdough shops popping up around the country. I could just buy one off the shelves right?
But I could not bring myself to do it. As someone who loves to cook, I fell in love with baking bread from scratch with my bare hands. It's always magical to see humble ingredients come together to make something wonderful- just flour, water, salt! The secret ingredient really is, of course, time and patience.
It took me awhile to realise that I needed help. I did abit of research and learned that I needed to read the starter on my own - I fed it when I felt like feeding it as I had, by then, learnt how to read it's signs of hunger when it wasn't fed.
So here it is!
This basic sourdough bread recipe was adapted from the many that I tried myself and have found it to be the most straightforward and accommodating of the hot and humid weather in Singapore, Malaysia and South East Asia generally (i.e temperatures of25 - 30 degrees celsius).
Basic Sourdough Recipe (adapted to humid climates 25 - 30 degrees celsius)
- Bread Flour (255g)
- Whole wheat flour (70g)
- Water (243g)
Autolyse: Mix all the ingredients together and let it rest for 2hrs - 4hrs in room temperature.
Add the following ingredients in order every 30mins
- Levain/Sourdough Starter: 75g (though sometimes I go up to 85g, it doesn’t change the dough much). By hand, spread leaven over dough (mix for 5mins).
- Seasalt: 7.5g Use fingers to press salt into dough (mix for 5mins)
- Light Fold: Fold all 4 sides of dough in bowl
After at least 3 hours from when levain is added:
- Lamination (Best when dough is cold from fridge or at least in aircon room temp) Pull dough from centre then stretch out. Thereafter, fold in 4 sides, transfer to bulking dish
Then stretch and fold after 30mins, only if the dough is still slack. Repeat again a second time only if dough continues to be slack.
At least 30mins after the last stretch & fold,
- Shape: Flour countertop, use bench scraper to tuck flour under edges of dough; use bench scraper pick up side flap of dough & fold on top of dough, repeat with the other side flap; roll down dough on itself; seal edges of dough by pinching. Ensure that dough is taut/ has surface tension.
- Proof: Leave dough for 15mins at room temperature, followed by an overnight (approx 12-16hrs) retard.
- Score: Score the bread immediately before baking. Bake the bread right after taking it out of the fridge.
- Bake: Bake for 20mins with lid on, 10-15mins uncovered or till desired brownness.
Bread is alive! 🤩
One of the things I enjoy most about bread baking is the rhythm and simplicity of working with my hands. Dough is sticky, it does not always behave the way we want it to (alot like my children😅) and the rhythm of working and pausing makes us slow down from our usual, busy, hectic lives.
Don't worry if you can't follow the steps to a "T". I've found this recipe to be forgiving and you can tailor the timings and required steps once you understand how to read the dough; whether it is properly fermented and have developed enough strength before a bake.
Like most new things we learn, dough handling skills will naturally come with practice.
Enjoy the journey!