One of the most frequent questions we receive about LoafNest is whether it can be used to make Sourdough (Sauerteig, Zuurdesem) bread. Of course, it can be.
But, so far, on our website and our very popular LoafNest recipe eBook, sourdough recipe has been a conspicuous omission.
And that was for a good reason. LoafNest is created to make breadmaking easy and foolproof. If you look at the variety of flours, yeasts and ingredients LoafNest users use, the variation in proofing and baking temperatures, it is surprising what amount of variation that LoafNest has to deal with. As you may have experienced yourself, LoafNest does a good job at this in spite of all variation and allows easy ways to tune your recipe to suit your own needs.
However, sourdough introduces just another layer of complexity. Sourdough starter is a mix of bacteria and yeasts feeding on sugars in the flour. By its own nature sourdough starter is alive and like most living beings, no two sourdough starter cultures are the same. Even the same starter at a different time of the year has different sets of microbes. This incredible complexity is what makes sourdough breads so sought after and what makes some starters well-known heirloom starters.
The sourdough starter and as a consequence recipes involving sourdough starters vary a lot on the type of starter, ambient temperatures and ingredients used. So, since LoafNest was designed to be fool-proof and it is quite impossible to make a sourdough recipe that allows for all variations, we had refrained from publishing a guide on sourdough baking so far. But now, we see LoafNest users being able adapt to use their previous sourdough recipes for LoafNest and many bakers who started with yeast successfully transitioned to using sourdough. So, we think this is a good time to give some pointers for making sourdough recipes in LoafNest.
Why sourdough in LoafNest?
If you are reading this, you probably need no education on the benefits of sourdough. It gives an incredible flavor complexity unmatched by any commercial yeast. And finally, your sourdough is really your own with your signature flavors and characters. And LoafNest product and method are designed for the best possible daily home bread baking so when you make a sourdough in LoafNest, you are getting the best there is.
I have never made sourdough before. Should I try it?
It depends on what you are looking for and how much investment (in effort and learning) that you want to make towards it. Compared to yeast bread making, sourdough can be a bit trickier and you may constantly need to tune your recipe depending on how the starter is evolving. You also have an additional step of feeding your starter and keeping it alive by frequent baking and feeding. On the plus side, sourdough breadmaking will let you have the pulse on your breadmaking, teach you how to look for nuances and learn what you need to adjust. In the end, if you want a no-nonsense, hands-free and minimal effort breadmaking, then yeast breads are ideal. Whereas, if you want to explore complexity of sourdough breadmaking and are willing to invest your efforts towards it, it is worth a shot.
How do I get started?
To get a good sourdough loaf, you start with a good starter. You will need some jars for storing and feeding your starter. There are excellent resources on the web on how to create and maintain your own starter so we are not going to repeat it again. You can learn a lot from King Arthur Baking's website about starting and maintaining a sourdough culture. Foodcrumbles also has a very informative articles on sourdough starter. If you are already using LoafNest, apart from what you already have, you don't need anything else.
Which recipe do I follow?
The no-kneading, no-shaping, no-clean up convenience of the LoafNest flow can also be easily applied to sourdough baking. For the reasons aforementioned, it is hard to give a very precise recipe. But use the below recipe as a starting point in your sourdough journey. Be prepared to look for clues and make small changes.
350 g strong bread flour
300 g mature starter [with 50% flour and 50% water]
250 g water
10 g salt
You will notice that we have given all measures in weights. This is deliberate because we know volumetric measurements are just not accurate and will lead to unpredictable results. Also, with weight measures, it is really easy to change your ingredient ratios in small steps. We can not overemphasize this: please weigh your ingredients!
With the above ingredients, just follow the LoafNest flow.
- Mix water and salt. After salt is dissolved, mix in the starter thoroughly.
- Add the flour at the end and just mix it to make sure all flour it wet. Following this order of mixing allows sourdough starter to reach all parts of the flour ensuring an even and thorough fermentation.
- Leave to raise until the dough looks bubbly and starts to smell sour with a strong smell of alcohol. Depending on your starter and temperature this may take any time between a few hours and a day. You can accelerate this by keeping the dough in a warm place (in a oven with lamp turned on). Or you can can slow this down by keeping the dough in the fridge for a part of the raise. Learn how your starter behaves and adapt it to suit your own schedule.
- Pre-heat the casserole at 230 C / 450 F for 45 minutes.- Put the LoafNest liner in and pour the dough. Make sure you follow the safety instructions in the LoafNest user manual while you do this.
- Bake for 45 minutes. Optionally, you can choose to bake without the lid for the last 5-15 minutes for an extra crunchy crust.
- Let the loaf cool down and enjoy your unique creation!
It could not have been easier!
If something did not go according to your wish, just go through the troubleshooting section of the LoafNest user manual and tune your ingredient quantities, or temperatures or times. And be prepared to make some small adjustments through the year to account for changing seasons.
This is the basic no-knead recipe for LoafNest Sourdough. You can of course modify the recipe with second shaping, raising in a banneton or adding other flours and ingredients. In time and with a few trials, you will have created a sourdough that you can truly call yours. Good luck!
Please share your experience in the comments for us all to learn from each other.