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Here's A Beginner-Friendly Sourdough Bread Recipe For Your First Loaf

Emilie Raffa
Author:
April 18, 2020
Emilie Raffa
Contributing writer
By Emilie Raffa
Contributing writer
Emilie Raffa is the creator, cook, and photographer of The Clever Carrot. She is also the author of The Clever Cookbook and Artisan Sourdough Made Simple. She was classically trained at the International Culinary Center and worked as a private chef.
April 18, 2020
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Every baker needs an all-purpose, go-to loaf in their repertoire. And if you're new to sourdough, this is the perfect place to start.

Simply make the dough, let it rise overnight, and bake in the morning. It requires very little effort with big reward. The crust is golden and crunchy, and the velvety crumb is perfect for sandwiches and toast. Try a few thick-cut slices with creamy avocado and tomato or the most delicious grilled cheese sandwich you will ever sink your teeth into. This is my family's favorite loaf. 

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Everyday Sourdough

Makes one loaf.

Ingredients:

  • 50 g (¼ cup) bubbly, active starter 
  • 350 g (1⅓ cups plus 2 tbsp.) warm water 
  • 500 g (4 cups plus 2 tbsp.) bread flour 
  • 9 g (1½ tsp.) fine sea salt 

Method:

  1. Make the dough: In the evening, whisk the starter and water together in a large bowl with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Combine until a stiff dough forms, then finish mixing by hand to fully incorporate the flour. The dough will feel dense and shaggy, and it will stick to your fingers as you go. Scrape off as much as you can. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Replenish your starter with fresh flour and water, and store according to preference. 
  2. After the dough has rested, work the mass into a fairly smooth ball. To do this, grab a portion of the dough and fold it over, pressing your fingertips into the center. Repeat, working your way around the dough until it begins to tighten, about 15 seconds. 
  3. Bulk rise: Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature. This will take about 8 to 10 hours at 70°F (21°C). The dough is ready when it no longer looks dense and has doubled in size. 
  4. Shape: In the morning, coax the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. To shape it into a round, start at the top and fold the dough over toward the center. Turn the dough slightly and fold over the next section of dough. Repeat until you have come full circle. Flip the dough over and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line an 8-inch (20-cm) bowl with a towel and dust with flour. With floured hands, gently cup the dough and pull it toward you in a circular motion to tighten its shape. Using a bench scraper, place the dough into the bowl, seam side up. 
  5. Second Rise: Cover the bowl and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The dough is ready when it looks puffy and has risen slightly but has not yet doubled in size. 
  6. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). Cut a sheet of parchment paper to the size of your baking pot, leaving enough excess around the sides to remove the bread. 
  7. Score: Place the parchment over the dough and invert the bowl to release. Sprinkle the dough with flour and gently rub the surface with your hands. Using the tip of a small, serrated knife or a razor blade, score the dough with a crosscut pattern. Use the parchment to transfer the dough to the baking pot. 
  8. Bake the dough on the center rack for 20 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, and continue to bake for 30 minutes. Then, carefully remove the loaf from the pot and bake directly on the oven rack for the last 10 minutes to crisp the crust. When finished, transfer to a wire rack. Cool for 1 hour before slicing. 
  9. Sourdough is best consumed on the same day it is baked. To maximize freshness, cool completely and store at room temperature in a plastic bag for up to 1 day. 
Reprinted with permission from Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa, Page Street Publishing Co. 2017. Photo credit: Emilie Raffa. 
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Emilie Raffa
Emilie Raffa
Contributing writer

Emilie Raffa is the creator, cook, and photographer of The Clever Carrot. She is also the author of The Clever Cookbook and Artisan Sourdough Made Simple. She was classically trained at the International Culinary Center and worked as a private chef. Emilie’s work has been featured online in Oprah Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine, The Huffington Post, Food 52, Saveur, Food&Wine, Today Food and in the pages of Artful Blogging magazine. She was a finalist for “best food photography” in the annual Saveur Blog Awards. She is also an editor for the digital cooking publication feedfeed. Emilie currently lives in Long Island with her husband and two little boys.