Makes 2 loaves of bread.
Ingredients1 tbsp Sourdough starter*
Approximately 7 cups of flour – any combination of wheat, rye, barley
2 tbsp birch syrup
PreparationNote: General formula for sourdough bread: 1 part starter to 2 parts flour plus 2 parts warm water.
If starting from sourdough starter in the fridge, start here:
10-11 pm: Mix 1 tbsp sourdough starter from fridge + 2 tbsp warm water +2 tbsp flour (wheat or rye) in medium sized clear bowl (larger than you think!). Let sit in warm place loosely covered. If starting from active sourdough starter on the counter, start here:
7 am: Add to above (¼ cup starter): ½ cup warm water + ½ cup wheat or rye flour. Let sit in warm place loosely covered. Tiny bubbles should start to form within the starter, as seen through the wall of the clear bowl
11 am: Use 1 cup of above and add 2 cups lukewarm water + 2 cups rye flour. This is the sponge. Let sit in warm place loosely covered. (4 – 6 hours. Small bubbles should be forming in the starter, as seen through the clear walls of the bowl.)
3 pm: Add to the above: 2 tbsp birch syrup plus 3 – 3 ½ cups flour (wheat, rye, barley or combination), one cup at a time until the dough has a good feel. It will be stickier than regular bread dough, so don’t add too much flour.
USE A PASTRY MAT, covered in more flour – Knead for a few minutes with the help of spatulas – it will be sticky! Divide in two. Place each in a parchment paper lined oven-safe bowl, dusted with flour.
Let sit in warm place loosely covered with tea towel until the dough starts to crack on the surface, approximately 4 hours. (Do not leave overnight at this stage or the bread will be too sour.)
7 pm: Preheat oven to 450°F and place a shallow pan of hot water on the bottom rack. Allow oven to get steamed up before baking bread. Bread can be baked in its oven proof bowl, or it can be transferred in its parchment paper to a baking sheet. The parchment paper will peel off after it is baked.
Bake bread in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the pan of boiling water, reduce heat to 400°F and bake for another 35 minutes. Remove bread from bowls and bake for an additional 5 minutes. The bread will not sound hollow when you tap it on the bottom, but will give a kind of muffled ‘thunk’ when it is done.
Let cool before slicing (if you can!)
* Revitalizing sourdough starter: If your sourdough starter has been dormant in the fridge for a while, you should start on the morning of day before you want to bake the bread and revitalize your starter.
Take 1 tbsp sourdough starter and put it in a glass or glass jar.
Add 2 tbsp flour and 2 tbsp water.
Let sit in a warm place, loosely covered, until tiny bubbles appear through the wall of the glass (anywhere from 4 – 8 hours usually).
Once tiny bubbles appear, take 1 tbsp of the starter and add flour and warm water as above.
Keep repeating, each time with 1 tbsp of starter.
Once you have an active, bubbly, starter you will be ready to begin as per the recipe above. The residual starter can join the original back in the fridge.