As part of a cooking challenge I was tasked with baking a gluten-free sourdough bread. Bread is not a category where you can just make things up. There is a bit of chemistry and voodoo that goes into bread baking and I was not about to start messing about.
My brain loves organization and orderly explanations. Having now read about 100 sourdough recipes I can say that many of the formulas I have read seem like a hot, confusing messes. Why does it have to take 300 steps to make something?? Why does a clarification actually make something simple seem confusing? I needed a bread expert, so I turned to Shay at What The Fork Food Blog’s great recipe and process for making 4 Ingredient Sourdough Bread. She has a huge amount of recipes and does a great job of streamlining processes to make them easy to follow.
What I am setting out to do in this post is not give you a recipe (use Shay’s), but to clearly and succinctly break down the process that I followed in baking my bread.
Let’s Get Started!
Step 1 – Starter
Every sourdough bread begins with a sourdough start. Here is the process I used to create my Easy Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter. You can use any recipe as long as your starter is active and ready to use. If you have an active starter, great, if not, plan for at least a week to get your starter ready to use. Starter is NOT difficult, it just requires consistency. Once you have your culture you can continue to use it forever as long as you maintain it on a weekly basis.
I spent several weeks nurturing my darling starter and now this bubbly jar of joy is ready to make the world more delicious. Here is a baby picture. Isn’t it cute??
Step 2 – Make the Dough
This recipe is a two day process. You make the dough one day, allow it to proof, then bake it on the next day. Now I have to say that I have always considered 2-day recipes to be a huge hassle and too process heavy. Having done this now I find that the lazy part of me really loves that I have less to do in the morning. It sort of splits up the work and makes it feel easier.
So onto dough making, which is just as straight forward as can be. I used my beloved Kitchenaid mixer with a dough hook. Mixed up the ingredients according to the instructions and within minutes had a happy little dough ball, ready to proof.
Step 3 – Proof
To finish your dough you need to do the easiest thing ever, nothing. Form your dough into a nice, smooth ball and place in a floured bowl. Cover with a cloth and let it sit According to Shay, 6-10 hours depending on how warm your room temperature is. My house has a fairly cool room temperature so I proofed for about 8 hours. Once your proofing time is complete move the dough into the fridge for 12 hours. My work is done for the day, see you tomorrow for the bake!
Step 4 – Bake!
The bake was super easy went smoothly with no issues. I preheated the oven and warmed up my Dutch oven for 30 minutes. The fun part for me was using the lame. I actually made two loaves, so I got to make two designs. I followed Shay’s excellent instruction on the bake. This does take more attention to process than baking cookies, so re-read the instructions a couple of times before getting started. The bread toasted up nicely with a crisp outer crust and a moist and chewy bread inside. Yeah!!