Best Easy High Hydration Sourdough Bread Recipe

Best Easy High Hydration Sourdough Bread Recipe

Sourdough bread has gained immense popularity in recent years due to its unique flavor, chewy texture, and health benefits. While making sourdough bread may seem daunting to some, this easy high hydration recipe will guide you through the process, ensuring a delicious loaf every time.

– 500g bread flour
– 350g water (room temperature)
– 100g active sourdough starter
– 10g salt

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and water. Mix until all the flour is hydrated and a shaggy dough forms. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rest for 30 minutes. This step is called autolyse and helps develop the gluten in the dough.
2. After the autolyse, add the sourdough starter to the dough. Mix well until the starter is fully incorporated. Cover the bowl again and let it rest for another 30 minutes.
3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and using the “pinch and fold” method, incorporate the salt into the dough. To do this, grab a portion of the dough, stretch it, and fold it back onto itself. Rotate the bowl and repeat this process until the salt is evenly distributed. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
4. Over the next 2-3 hours, perform a series of stretch and folds every 30 minutes. To stretch and fold, wet your hand and reach under one side of the dough, pull it up, and fold it back onto itself. Rotate the bowl and repeat with the other sides. This helps strengthen the gluten and develop structure in the dough.
5. After the stretch and folds, cover the bowl and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours, or until it has doubled in size. Alternatively, you can place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight for a slow rise, which enhances the flavor.
6. Once the dough has risen, transfer it onto a well-floured surface. Gently shape the dough into a round by folding the edges inward. Let it rest for 30 minutes, covered with a towel.
7. Preheat your oven to 450°F (232°C) and place a Dutch oven or a baking stone in the oven to heat up.
8. After the resting period, carefully transfer the dough into the preheated Dutch oven or onto the baking stone. Score the top of the dough with a sharp knife or razor blade to allow for expansion.
9. Cover the Dutch oven with its lid or place a heatproof bowl over the dough to create steam. This helps the bread rise and develop a crispy crust.
10. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on (or covered with the heatproof bowl), then remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown.
11. Once baked, remove the bread from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack before slicing.

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1. How can I ensure my sourdough starter is active?
It’s essential to feed your sourdough starter regularly, ideally once a day. If it floats when dropped in water, it indicates that it’s active and ready to be used.

2. Can I use whole wheat flour instead of bread flour?
Yes, you can substitute some or all of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. Keep in mind that whole wheat flour absorbs more water, so you may need to adjust the hydration accordingly.

3. How do I know if my dough has risen enough?
The dough should roughly double in size during the bulk fermentation. You can also perform a “poke test” by lightly pressing your finger into the dough. If the indentation slowly springs back, it’s ready.

4. Can I bake the bread without a Dutch oven or baking stone?
Yes, you can use a regular baking sheet, but the crust may not turn out as crispy. Alternatively, you can use a large oven-safe pot with a lid.

5. Can I add other ingredients like seeds or dried fruits to the dough?
Absolutely! Feel free to experiment with different additions to customize your sourdough bread. Add them during the autolyse or after the stretch and folds.

6. How should I store the bread?
Once completely cooled, store the bread in a paper bag or bread box to maintain its crustiness. Avoid storing it in plastic, as it can make the crust soft.

7. How long can I keep the sourdough starter?
With regular feeding, a sourdough starter can be kept indefinitely. Just remember to feed it once a week if you’re not planning to bake.

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