This is the proof that sourdough bread can be baked at home by anyone. You don’t need to be an organic-freak who has plenty of time and money to bake it.
Baking a delicious, homemade sourdough bread doesn’t mean you need to spend the entire day in the kitchen either. It’s so easy that even a child could do it (if you’d let him touch an electric socket and/or an oven).
Yes, sourdough bread CAN be made in the bread machine too.
That’s how I bake it most of times. However, you don’t need to have one to easily bake your loaf of bread. I even dare to say that the difficulty level is almost the same with or without the bread machine.
Basic sourdough bread theory
To bake a sourdough bread, you need to have a sourdough that you use to make a leaven.
You can make your own rye sourdough, the bread from it is very healthy, light and easy to digest. I used to bake from rye sourdough for a long time but we had to eliminate rye at home due to diagnosed intolerance of a family member. That’s when I decided to start a spelt sourdough.
What is a sourdough?
Sourdough is flour mixed with water (systematically fermented in a room temperature for several days).
Rye sourdough = rye flour + water
Spelt sourdough = spelt flour + water
How to make sourdough (Difficulty: Intermediate)
My current sourdough is a 100 % spelt flour sourdough and I made it myself. I mixed flour with water in 1:1 ratio (e.g. 50ml water & 50g flour).
I put the thick dough into a glass jar, I covered it with kitchen foil and left it on the kitchen counter.
Every 12 – 24 hour I moved my dough into a clean glass jar and added water & flour in 1:1:1 ratio (50g sourdough, 50ml water, 50g flour).
When the sourdough started to rise too fast, I put it in the fridge for the night. Next morning, I took it out again and added water and flour.
Adding water and flour into sourdough is called feeding the sourdough. If your sourdough is too watery, add more flour. If it’s too thick, add more water. Accuracy is not super important here at all.
If you made too much sourdough, just keep what you need and throw the leftover away.
After a week of feeding my freshly made sourdough I tried to bake a bread from it. The result was perfect!
1. Step: Make a leaven. Prep time: 1 minute
How to make a leaven?
Take your sourdough out of the fridge.
Put in a bowl:
150ml water – mix the water into the sourdough with a fork first;
150g flour – mix in the flour until you get even, very thick dough – the leaven.
Cover the bowl and leave it in a room temperature for several hours until the leaven doubles in size.
It takes around 4 hours for my leaven to raise. Rye leaven could take approx. 8-12 hours to double in size.
How long it takes for your leaven to raise depends on the sourdough you use as well as on the surrounding temperature. It’s quite warm in our kitchen and it’s typical for spelt sourdough to raise faster than a rye sourdough. After first few bakings, you’ll know exactly how long does it take for your leaven to double.
Tracking time is not that important while preparing the leaven. It doesn’t matter if you keep it waiting in the kitchen for an hour longer or shorter. However, if the taste of your bread is a bit sour, consider shortening the time of rising the leaven or the bread dough.
Another specific thing for spelt sourdough is that it becomes a bit runny as it rises, so I like to add slightly more flour than water to keep it nice and thick. Rye sourdough is better in maintaining its consistency.
2. Step: Load the bread machine. Prep time: 1 minute
Caution! After kneading, BEFORE the start of baking, you need to turn the bread machine off or alternatively use program that prepares the dough but doesn’t bake – sourdough bread isn’t ready for baking yet.
When your leaven is ready (doubled its size), it’s time to load the bread machine. The list of ingredients is in chronological order – how I put them into the bread machine.
Load the bread machine:
2 tablespoons of oil (rape-seed, olive, sunflower or any other oil you like)
2 teaspoons of salt (18g)
1 teaspoon of sugar (9g)
320 ml warm water (not too hot)
550 g flour (ANY FLOUR you like: spelt, rye, wheat, white, wholegrain, one type or a combination of several different types… it’s entirely up to you. Alter for baking different bread every time)
220 g leaven
Optional: Add seasonings, e.g. herbs, cumin, seeds (sunflower, line, pumpkin). You can even add leftover mashed potatoes from yesterday’s dinner (cca 100g)
Leaven that you didn’t use for baking today move into a clean glass jar, cover and store in the fridge – it’s the sourdough for your next baking.
Once the ingredients in the bread machine have been well kneaded, turn the machine off. Simply unplug it from the electric socket.
What program to use for sourdough bread baked in a bread machine?
There are two options:
1. You can use any program with kneading and turn off the bread machine before it starts baking the bread.
Any program with kneading will do. Seriously. I have the cheapest bread machine ever that doesn’t do much except kneading and baking and the bread from it is delicious.
Read the instruction manual to find out which program has the longest span between the first and the second kneading and use that one. Turn the machine off after the second kneading.
Last week I baked the bread with one kneading only (as I had to run out of the house somewhere quickly…) and I didn’t notice any difference in bread taste or consistency.
2. Use program that prepares the dough but doesn’t bake.
Discovering the program called “Dough” on my bread machine has made the entire process of baking the sourdough bread much faster and easier. This program kneads the dough, lets it rise than kneads again and stops. There’s no baking phase, so I don’t need to wait around to turn off the bread machine in time.
This progam used in combination with delayed start means you can fill in the bread machine in the morning and leave for work. When you get back home in the evening, you can just check if the bread has rised well and turn on baking.
Fill in your bread machine the same way as described above. Just be careful to put the leaven on the top of the flour making sure it doesn’t sink into water. If you know your leaven well enough, you can set delayed start on your bread machine to as many hours as your leaven needs for rising before baking.
How to bake sourdough bread in the oven?
If you don’t have a bread machine, don’t worry:
- Hand-knead the dough or use a food processor (see 2. Step for the list of ingredients);
- After the first kneading, leave the bread dough rest for about an hour;
- Knead again and move the dough into the bread baking form;
- Let the dough double in size and bake in the oven for 50-60 mins – 180 degrees C.
I don’t have any bread baking form but sometimes I bake directly on a baking tin or in a glass baking bowl. I always use baking paper to prevent sticking the bread onto the bowl/tin.
Bread baked in the oven has thicker crust and slightly different structure to the one baked in the bread machine. It’s more like bread you buy from a home bakery.
3. Step: Bake the leavened bread
When your bread dough is ready for baking (doubled in size), turn the bread machine on again and set it to a baking program that doesn’t knead.
If you’re baking in the oven, set it to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for 50-60 minutes.
After the bread’s been baked, remove it from the baking form as soon as you can and leave to cool down for at least 30 minutes before eating.
Tah-daaah! All done 🙂
Don’t be afraid to give the sourdough bread a go. It’s really not as hard as it looks. This website isn’t about food and baking is not one of my strengths. But the smell of freshly baked homemade bread is irreplaceable. In this article, I wanted to show you that you can have it at home too.
If anyone you know has a sourdough at home, I’m sure they’ll be happy to share it with you. If not, you can buy one in a specialized healthy and organic food store.
Don’t forget to feed your sourdough at least once a week if you don’t bake from it that often, otherwise it’ll go bad.
You should stay at home during your first two bakings to find out how long does it take for your sourdough to raise. Later, you will be able to organize your time around baking.
The total time spent in the kitchen while baking the sourdough bread is less than 5 minutes. The rest of the time your sourdough “works” on its own.