This is where I keep bread-related notes. Welcome to Brunston’s bountiful, beautiful bread and baking bonanza.

This is also a work in progress. Please pardon the mess.

Sourdough: a journey

Sourdough crock

This is the place you keep your sourdough starter. Recommendations include glass mason jars or BPA-free plastic containers. I use a 32-oz plastic deli container (made of polypropylene and therefore BPA-free) myself, but you should use what’s convenient and comfortable for you. Personally, I find it helpful to use a clear container so you can see the gluten development (as little bubbles of air) of your starter from the side.

Keeping your sourdough starter

You can either keep your starter in the fridge, feeding it once a week, or at room temperature, feeding it every 12 hours. Look at the next section for how to feed your starter.

When you are ready to bake, use the same ratios but feed every 12 hours until it starts to become bubbly and is doubling in volume at least every 12 hours. If your sourdough crock is clear, look for bubbles of air dotting the side of the crock.

Feeding your sourdough starter

Feeding sourdough starter is a matter of ratios. You can do this step once a week for refrigerated starter that isn’t actively being used to bake bread. This step should be done once every doubling (about every 12 hours depending on how active your starter is) when you’re preparing to bake bread.

Stir the starter well. If you have not fed the starter for a long period of time and there is a clear liquid on top, it’s fine to stir in. If you find your bread is too acidic / sour, you can drain this liquid off before stirring.

This guide assumes you are keeping 200 grams of starter in your sourdough crock.

Discard enough starter to leave just 100g. If you’ve been following this guide’s regimen and ratios, you’ll be discarding 200g here, but it’s just a rough guide.

Add 100g all-purpose flour (just under 1 cup), and add 100g lukewarm water (just under 1/2 cup). Stir until combined and smooth. Cover loosely with the lid of your container and let sit for around 2 hours at room temperature to give the yeast a chance to warm up. Close the lid tightly and return to the fridge.

If you use the Brunston Bread recipe below, these ratios and amounts will work out just fine.

If your recipe calls for a large quantity of starter, keep the ratio of 1:1 flour:water the same, but in the adding step, add the amount of flour and water so that the total added weight is the amount that you’ll need in your recipe. This way, you always have 100g of starter left over to keep your culture for future baking!

Uses for discard starter

You can use discard starter for a variety of delicious recipes. I use mine for sourdough pancakes.

“Brunston Bread” no-knead sourdough bread recipe

Ingredients

Initial dough formation and rise

  1. Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  2. In smaller bowl, combine lukewarm water with sourdough starter. Mix until combined and mixture is liquid-y.
  3. Add water and starter to the large mixing bowl. Mix until combined with a spatula. This is not a kneading step, but do make sure there are not large pockets of dry flour in the dough.
  4. Cover bowl in plastic wrap, place a tea towel on top. Leave to rise overnight, 10-12 hours. I get best results around there, but it will depend on your ambient house temperature and how active your starter is.

Boule forming and second rise

A boule is the rounded shape of a common handmade loaf. What we’re trying to do is to form a taut surface on the top of the boule, so that it rises upwards instead of spreading outwards, and form the rounded shape that will create the final shape of the loaf.

  1. Dust parchment paper with flour.
  2. Dust a work surface (a clean countertop or a clean wooden cutting board) with flour, dump out the dough and form a boule (this might be a useful demonstration up until about 1:15).
  3. Transfer boule to parchment paper. Let rise, covered with a flour-dusted tea towel for 2 hours or until roughly doubled in size. Don’t worry if it doesn’t double, it should spring in the oven.

Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F (if you have an anemic oven, you can set it higher), and preheat your dutch oven. Before transferring the boule, score the top with a (very) sharp knife or razor blade. I typically run one large cut down the middle of the boule, aiming for about a half-inch deep score.
  2. Transfer the boule into the dutch oven using the parchment paper, being careful not to burn yourself on the oven sides (they’re very hot!).
  3. Cover and bake for 25-30 minutes.
  4. Uncover and continue to bake an additional 20-30 minutes until nicely browned.
  5. Set to cool on a wire rack. Don’t cut into the bread until it’s cooled (at least a half hour)!

Acknowledgements

This recipe was adapted from Sam Sifton’s no-knead bread recipe, which was adapted from Mark Bittman’s no-knead bread recipe, which was a popularized version of Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe. I have modified it for taste and ease of preparation.

A note on weights

If you really want to get into bread or baking, I highly recommend an inexpensive set of scales like this one. It makes recipes more repeatable.

If you don’t have a set of scales, all-purpose and bread flour is about 120g/cup, and 5g of kosher salt is about a teaspoon. You can see other helpful conversions here, but seriously consider getting a set of scales.