Slow Living, Loaf by Loaf

In March 2020, our state shut down. Our schools closed, my photography business screeched to a halt and my husband began working full-time at home. As I'm sure you can relate, there were a lot of mixed emotions that came with this shutdown. But we were grateful for our new home and land to stretch out. In fact, looking back on it now, I couldn’t imagine a better place to call home during those unusual times. As a way of channeling my worry into something positive, I jumped on the sourdough train! For me, it was something small that I could control. A distraction from all the uncertainty. It took me two tries to build a successful sourdough starter because creating natural yeast is a slow process and a bit tricky. But my persistence and patience paid off.

While my starter never seems to bubble over the top in the overly dramatic way that I often see people post on social media, I don’t mind one bit. It's active. It’s mine. I made it myself. I feed it myself. And my family devours it. Does anything else really matter?


sourdough, baking, bread, baker,

Here is my tried and true, simple sourdough recipe:

Sourdough Bread

You Will Need

  • 50g starter (you can buy my dehydrated starter HERE)
  • 350g water
  • 500g flour
  • 15g salt (or to your preference)
  • rice flower for coating benetton
  • 2 handfuls of uncooked rice to cover bottom of Dutch oven

Tools and Supplies 

  • large glass bowl
  • fork
  • digital kitchen scale
  • beeswax cloth cover or a large plate that is larger than glass bowl
  • benetton
  • 1 piece parchment paper
  • lame, sterile razor blade or other sharp edge
  • Dutch oven 

CLICK HERE to visit my Amazon Sourdough page for quick links to some of my favorite tools and supplies.

To Make

  1. After you have fed your starter and it begins to bubble (usually 6-12 hours after you feed it), you are ready to make dough. As a general rule, I feed my starter before I go to bed, then it's ready the next morning.
  2. In a large glass bowl, loosely stir 50g of starter with 350g of water. 
  3. Next, add 500g flour and 15g salt and combine until it makes a loose dough. Make sure there is no dry flour remaining.
  4. Cover loosely with a dinner plate or beeswax cloth and leave on the counter for an hour. I prefer to cover my dough bowl with a ceramic dinner plate and leave it on the gas stovetop so that air can circulate underneath the bowl. (Just be sure to remove the bowl if you're going to use the oven or stove.)
  5. Once the hour has passed, lift and fold the dough several times until a smooth round dough ball is created (appox 10+ times.)  Cover and set aside for another hour.
  6. Lift and fold another time or two throughout the day, always keeping it covered when it is resting and in a reasonably warm place (70-80 degrees is ideal). 
  7. Leave bowl on a warm elevated surface overnight.  (I leave mine in the oven with the door closed and the light on but no heat turned on. It works like a charm!)
  8. In the morning, your dough should have doubled in size and is likely pushing the plate up and off of your bowl! (If it has not, give it a few extra hours. All yeast rises at its own rate and the rise, even from the same starter, can vary greatly depending on the time of year and temperature of your home, among other circumstances.) Once you're confident your dough has risen, Liberally flour your benetton with rice flour or use the linen wrap cover they often come with. Pull the dough away from the bowl one last time with a very gentle 360-degree fold into the center and carefully transfer the dough to the benetton.
  9. Sprinkle some rice flour (or whatever flour you have) on top of the dough so it doesn't stick to your cover. Cover with a beeswax wrap or sinched linen cover and place in the refrigerator for a final proof of at least two hours (3-5 is ideal). I have found that the maximum final proofing time my dough can handle is 24 hours; but more than that and it becomes flat and dense (over proofed.) Three hours is ideal if you want perfect crumb and big bubbles.
  10. When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 450 degree F.
  11. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the dough in the benetton. Hold one hand against the parchment paper and one hand on the bottom of the bowl and gently flip the bowl upside down to transfer the dough onto the paper. Reshape the dough if necessary.
  12. Score the bread however you prefer (this is a wonderful opportunity to be creative or embrace simplicity; you choose!) Make sure you have one deep slit so the bread has some room for rising.
  13. Before placing the dough in your cast-iron Dutch oven, sprinkle a couple handfuls of uncooked rice or cornmeal in the bottom of the Dutch oven. This is a special trick I learned on my journey that I share with anyone who is baking sourdough. The rice acts as a barrier between the parchment paper-lined dough and the bottom of the Dutch oven, thus absorbing much of the heat that commonly causes the bottoms of our sourdough boules to burn. It works incredibly well and has been a huge ah-ha moment for many in my soudough baking community. 
  14. Place the boule (with parchment paper on bottom) inside on top of the rice/cornmeal. Cover with the Dutch oven lid, and bake at 450 degrees for 50 min.
  15. Take lid off, and bake an additional 5 min until the crust is a crispy golden brown. 
  16. Remove the bread from the cast iron immediately so it can begin to cool. Do not cut into it for at least 30 min to prevent it from becoming gummy.
Enjoy warm with butter and honey!

I also wanted to share a few tips I’ve discovered on my sourdough journey:

  1. Most importantly, always use the uncooked rice or cornmeal trick that I mentioned in my sourdough recipe. 
  2. Invest in a digital kitchen scale. It allows you to have the most precise measurements, which is important when creating, feeding and boosting your starter and when baking bread. I found mine on Amazon for $12 and I use it nearly every day.
  3. Be generous when discarding starter in your yeast growing process. It’s so hard and seems counterproductive, but it is vital to the growth process. If the starter gets too large, it will go flat and become dormant and your bread will not rise.
  4. When I’m growing my starter or letting dough rise, I keep them on the kitchen counter near the oven (or near the fireplace during the cold months) so it gets a little extra heat boost!
  5. Keep in mind that the kind of flour you use, the amounts of natural yeast and moisture in your home, state and country, and the temperature in your home and in the area you live all play a role in how your starter behaves and how long it may take to grow it or how often you may need to feed it. Patience is key and don’t be afraid to tweak your starter process and experiment along the way.

Sourdough Bagels

    My family’s hands-down favorite sourdough treats are my homemade bagels. My boys ask for sourdough several times a week, so I feed my starter and proof dough nearly everyday. Baking in our newly renovated kitchen and watching my family enjoy these loaves brings me so much joy! Here is my bagel recipe:

     Here is how I make sourdough bagels:

    1. Make a batch of sourdough in a large bowl using your favorite recipe, cover the bowl with loose cling wrap, and let it proof overnight (see my tips above for overnight proofing).
    2. The next morning, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (218 degrees C) and bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a small handful of sugar to the boiling water.
    3. Lay parchment paper over a baking sheet and sprinkle it with rice flour.
    4. Stretch the dough onto the floured paper and divide it into 8-10 relatively even sections.
    5. One by one, roll them into balls and then press your thumb firmly through the middle to create a hole. From there, twirl it around your index finger a couple times to stretch the hole and create the classic bagel shape.
    6. Carefully drop your shaped dough into the boiling water. I drop 5 bagels in at a time, sometimes more, depending on how large your pot is. The bagels should float to the top immediately.
    7. Boil for 2 minutes on each side and then place back on your parchment paper cookie sheet.
    8. Sprinkle with your favorite toppings (a pile of Tillamook Colby Jack cheese is a family favorite in my home but you can’t go wrong with salt and pepper or just plain either) and bake for 20-25 minutes until they turn a beautiful golden brown.

    I often pair my bagels with homemade chive whipped cream cheese using a handful of chopped garlic chives from the garden.

    I hope that, with this guidance in your apron pocket, you will consider giving sourdough a try. It’s such a rewarding, delicious experience! 

    Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. Cedar House Living LLC receives a small commission for sales generated through these links at no additional cost to you. I use the commissions to further expand my garden, floral, and herbal knowledge so I can continue to share what I learn with you.

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