A beginner’s guide is your go-to resource for delicious, freshly baked Sourdough.
We think there’s something pretty special about Sourdough bread. Amazingly, it was discovered by accident in ancient Egypt! The Egyptians found when they were brewing beer, fermentation would occur from the natural yeast in the air. This fermentation produced two by-products, gas and alcohol. The same principle was used for making bread and so Sourdough was born!
The Sourdough at Bakers Delight is handcrafted by our bakers every day. Unlike many Sourdough recipes, we don’t use yeast. We make Sourdough the traditional way, using a fermented culture called Levain as our starter, making it truly authentic, and you can too!
Our Head Baker, Luke Farrell, shares the secret to Levain and perfecting the Sourdough process.
You can create your own starter at home by combining flour, water and the wild yeast in the air around us. Once your starter is alive, it’s like a very low maintenance pet – you need to feed it regularly to keep it healthy and you know it’s happy when it bubbles!
Using a starter in bread creates the yeast needed for the bread to rise, while the combination of acetic acid and lactic acid produced by the bacteria, gives the unique flavour. Each Sourdough starter has a different flavour and gives distinctive characteristics to the bread. Some starters will give you an open crumb (bakers talk for the inside of your loaf), hard or soft crust, strong acidic flavours, mild sour notes or no sour flavour at all. The starter is the key to your signature loaf of Sourdough bread!
Did you know all of our Sourdough loaves at Bakers Delight are related as they all use the same Levain? Our Levain is from the San Francisco Baking Institute and can be traced back 150 years!
Our bakers always get asked how to make Sourdough at home. So we took this question to Luke, who shares his favourite recipe for the perfect loaf!
First thing’s first – you’ll need to create your own starter. This can be done over a week by using just flour and water. You’ll be using the very small amounts of lactobacillus that naturally occur in the flour to turn flour and water into the building blocks of your unique Sourdough.
You’ll need 100g of flour and 100ml of water. Mix them together until you have a smooth slurry. Let that sit, covered for 24 hours at room temperature (take note of the time when you mix them together!).
At the same time as yesterday, take the starter out and throw half away. Add 100g of flour and 100ml of water and mix. Let it rest at room temperature again.
By now, bubbles will have formed in your starter. It’s time to feed your starter every 12 hours! While this may seem wasteful, it has to be done. To feed your starter, keep 100g of it and add 100g of flour and 50ml of water.
Continue feeding your starter every 12 hours until day 7.
Now you’re ready to bake!
1. Mix all the ingredients together to form a hard ball
2. Knead the dough to develop the gluten, which will strengthen your dough
3. Place your dough back into the bowl with a tea towel over the top and leave it in a warm part of your home
4. Fold the dough four times every 30 minutes to continue strengthening the gluten – you’ll need to do this for four hours
5. Now it’s time to shape your dough into a loaf – once you have a shape you’re happy with, place the dough into a proving basket or bowl to rise, leave this in the warmest part of your home
6. Pre-heat the pot in the oven at 180°C for 20 minutes
7. When your loaf is the right size, turn it out of the basket/bowl, sift flour over the top, score the loaf (cut with a knife) and place into your pot
8. Place pot in the oven with the lid on and bake at 220°C for 25 minutes.
9. Take the lid off and bake for a further 20 minutes at 200°C
If your loaf lacks volume, make sure you add an extra hour of initial proving and folding to give your dough more strength next time!
With your leftover starter, feed it and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. You should feed it every 7 days. Feed your starter the day before you want to use it to guarantee maximum activity.
Share your homemade Sourdough creations using #HomeWithBakersDelight and tagging @bakersdelight on Instagram.