Bread Recipes

Sourdough Bread-Making Tutorial by Walker Orr

This is the first video in a six part series that offers a brief introduction on how to begin making bread with a sourdough starter! Check out Walker’s handy written instructions here:

For more great baking tips, follow Walker’s on Instagram: @breadandthesis

Original of the video here

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Video Transcription

hey everyone this is Walker from breadand thisis here doing a full sourdoughlesson sponsored by Associated Studentsof Whitman college to keep you busyduring this coronavirus time so I’mgonna start with just a brief outline ofhow the lessons are gonna go and thenI’m gonna get right into itso we’re gonna talk about how to startand maintain a sourdough starter andwe’re gonna go through the process ofmaking bread I have a sourdough starteryou can see that it’s gotten reallyexcited that we’re gonna make breadtoday and I’m going to show you how allof the steps work from like physicalmechanical standpoint and then I’m alsogonna briefly talk about what you needto bake bread as well as a few simpleconcepts like baker’s math that willhelp you understand bread formulas thatyou come across and help you posequestions and talk to people who bakebread alright so I’m gonna jump right inwith a quick introduction to sourdough alittle overview what did it how does itwork and how you can keep one so asourdough is a culture of yeasts andlactic acid bacteria that’s used toleaven bread these organisms metabolizesugar found in flour and produce carbondioxide at which leavens the bread andmini flavor compounds including acetatewhich you may know as the chemicalresponsible for the sour taste andvinegar which is what gives sourdoughits distinctive taste you maintain asourdough by creating a predictableenvironment for the culture andrefreshing its food supply regularlywhich i think is kind of like changingthe water in a fishbowl at leastmechanically they’ve sort of used up thenutrients and they have a bunch of sortof toxic to them not to us toxic wastethat you have to clear out and then youput more flour and suddenly they havemore food in thereso there are three simple rules that youshould follow for keeping a culture thatwill predictably and successfullyleavened bread there are tons of ways tokeep a sourdough and a lot of it is upto you and you can keep sourdough notfollowing these three rules and you’llget good bread some of the time but ifyou want to sort of predictably andsuccessfully leaven your bread youshould refresh your culture at leastonce a day you should use whole grainflour fresh look possible I can’t getfresh whole grain flour so I just useyou know Bob’s Red Mill from the storeand then number three is to maintain itbetween 20 and 30 degrees Celsius sothis is 68 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit thisis a good little transition to talkabout my approach to bread making and tothis lesson I’m gonna go grab my starterreal quick it’s my opinion that thereare there are so many differentresources out there for baking bread andif you just want to get started and makea loaf I mean there are so many websitesso many books you know your friendsmaybe talk about how they make theirbread and stuff so I’m not gonna try toreinvent the wheel or beat it into theground I’m gonna go a little bit deeperand try to be a little morecomprehensive and talk about what youneed to do if you want to get a goodload consistently because it’s my viewthat like bread is pretty forgiving andanyone can make a good loaf but the keyto I think what skilled bakers do isthey can make a good loaf consistentlyover and over every time and that to meis really satisfying and so I’m gonnatry to teach some of the skills that Ithink can lead to being able to achievethat consistency and with sourdough thatreally starts with the starter becauseit’s that’s the live organisms that areresponsible for all of the chemistrythatgoes on in in your bread so getting thatconsistent will go a huge way towardsmaking the rest of your processconsistent okay so to recap three rulesrefresh daily use whole grain flour andmaintain between 68 and 85 degreesFahrenheit so that’s pretty comfortableroom temperature range other factorssuch as the ratio of the flour to waterwhich is called percent hydration andwe’ll get exactly into how the percentworksit’s called baker’s math later those areup to the baker so people can maintain aliquid starter that’s a hundred percenthydration in other words a one-to-oneflour to water ratio that’s kind of likea wet slurry I use six parts water toten parts flour and so you’ll noticethat my starter kind of is like a thickcake a puck at the bottom of thecontainer I keep it in the key is justto make sure that you keep theconditions similar each time that you’refeeding it the same way at roughly thesame time so let it be as predictablywhen your starter is being thatregularly except about the temperatureit will display a predictable patternsome time after you feed it you’llnotice that the culture will startrising and indeed in my sourdough Idon’t know if you can see because thelighting here is kind of funny butthey’re just starting to form I fed ittwo hours ago so as it keeps growingthroughout the day it will metabolizesugars in the flour and it will startrising and it’s probably gonna go up toabout here by about 9:00 or 10:00 p.m.and eventually when the starter when theorganisms have consumed a lot of thesugar and produce a lot of acidbyproducts that breaks down the flourand you’ll notice that this thesourdough culture will fall so it hasthis predictable pattern of rising andfalling and the ideal time to eitherfeed your starter or to make a sourdoughbuild to make bread whichbasically is just feeding your starterbut making a bigger starter so that youhave enough to live in your batch ofbread is what it has risen and is justbeginning to fall it’s just starting tofall which means that it has a high celldensity it’s going to be really good forleavening your bread but the cells arestill healthythey haven’t starved yet they haven’ttotally run out of their food supply inthe starter so before you bake bread youhave this starter that you maintainregularly but to leaven my batch ofbread that I’m going to make the flourscaled out right let’s see right therein that big tub I’m going to need morethan what I have here so I made asourdough build which you can see isthis much starter and like I said it’spretty much the same process as speakingyour starter but you’re making more ofit and that’s so yeah you’ll pre fermentthe quantity of flour you need to leavenyour bread we’re gonna go into exactlywhat a procurement is later butessentially what you see in this big tubis not the total flour in the recipe orthe formula part of that flour ended uphere in this sour dough and this iswhat’s called the pre fermented flourportion of the formula if you don’t bakeoften you can use various strategies tokeep your starter dormant this missspring semester when I was baking maybeonce a month I would I would store it inthe fridge often after I dried it outyou can find tons of methods for thatonline or ask around but when you’reactually ready to bake you should feedit using the three rules for severaldays prior to use through four dayssummer refreshments and then it’ll behealthy and kicking and ready to go forbaking so that way you don’t need tobaby it all the time but when you’reactually ready to bake bread you put inthat little extra effort to get thatconsistent result to start a sourdoughfrom scratch you follow the same rulestry to keep it on the warmer and wetterside when starting out because that’llhelp it get goingfaster so I usually use between 15 partswater to ten parts flour when I’mbeginning a new sourdough starter andthen I try to keep it closer to 85degrees Fahrenheit warmer if you use awhole-grain flour there’s no need to usehoney grape juice or any of the otherbullcrap that people recommend forgetting a starter going it’s notnecessary alright so thanks forlistening to the first lesson onsourdough we’re going to move on to justa brief discussion of the materials andsupplies that you should have on hand tomake bread so I’m going to start with afew items that I consider a lute mustslike things that you need to bake breadthat you either need to buy or borrowfrom a friend if you don’t have first akitchen scale this is mine right here itis covered in flour it’s a little bitphiffier it can handle a little bit morecapacity because I’m in really bigbatches sometimes but as long as it canaccurately measure preferably metricthen you’re set it’s an absolute must ifyou’d like to use baking formulas whichare kind of the language that Baker’sused to talk about recipes improve yourbaking and diagnose errors in yourprocess second food-safe thermometeragain this is essential fortroubleshooting and achieving a fullflavor consistently and really justunderstanding you know if your starterisn’t going and you take the temperatureand you see that it’s like you know it’s62 degrees Fahrenheit that’s your answerso it can really just help troubleshootand answer some of those questions thirda heavy baking stone or a Dutch oven potwith an oven-safelid I use maybe a bench knife or doughscraper it looks like this it hasusually a little a pretty blunt edgehere and it kind of acts as an extensionof your hand while you’re baking it’salso nice to have a double edge safetyrazorwith handle called a long for scoring orcutting the dough before it goes intothe oven although you can achieve asimilar effect with a pair of scissorsyou should also gather buckets or largebowls for mixing and fermenting I usethese food grade buckets right here butfor most smaller batches of bowl is justfine plastic wrap or plastic bags forcovering the dough as it rests proofingbaskets which are specialized lynniumline wicker baskets for rising bread orjust a bowl with a kitchen towel andthen a timepiece and notepad fortracking details as you bake and acomputer with Microsoft Excel orOpenOffice for computing baking formulaswhich you may not need that at first buteventually when you’re like I want tobake three loaves or two loaves it helpsyou really accurate and scale up or downyour formula to exactly what you need ifyou’re using a baking stone instead ofthe Dutch oven it’s also useful to haveparking paper and a sheet pan forsliding dough pieces in the oven as wellas some way of generating steam in youroven I’ll go into that when I do it butI like to use an old cast-iron pan thatI keep in the bottom of the oven it’stotally wrecked from being used for thisfor years and that’s it’s dedicatedpurpose if your oven is heated using gasit will be very difficult to bake breadunless you use a Dutch oven because thesteam tends to put out the flame in thegas oven as far as ingredients areconcerned you will probably start out ina1 white flour appropriate for makingbread whole grain flour for maintainingyour starter and a fine line non-iodizedsalt I just get sea salt and bolt I’mpretty sure Andy sells it King ArthurFlour makes an all-purpose flour whichis their red bag which works reallynicely or you can get 50-pound bags ofsmalls family farm all-purpose flourfrom Andy’s market in college place or50-pound bags with Shepherds granny lowgluten flour from Cashman Kerry is richlist if you can’t find any of those youshould look for a brand mill from hardred winter wheat containing between 11and 12percent protein excess protein chains tomake her a less sweet chewier bread soyou don’t eat high gluten flour or whatit is often sold that’s bread flour butis in fact harder than you eat itkeeping a bit of white rice flour onhand is also a good idea for presentpreventing your bread from sticking toyour rising baskets as far aswhole-wheat flour is concerned whichagain I recommend feeding your starter Iuse Bob’s Red Mill which you can getinvolved agamasbefore we get started actually seeingand handling the dough we’re gonna goover the steps of the baking processfrom start to finish these steps applyboth for yeasted bread and for sourdoughalthough of course I’m going to use mysourdough as an example the steps are inorderscaling pre ferment mixing bulkfermentation dividing and shapingproofing baking and cooling first thingsfirstlooking over the formula the nightbefore to make sure you’ve made enoughpre ferment for the batch and get yourflour and salt skill while you’re at itit’ll make the next morning morepleasant since you can get straight tomixing and not worry about forgetting toscale the salt next prepare that prepermit a pre ferment we touched on thisbriefly in the last section but a preferment is what it sounds like it’s aportion of the batch total flour then isfermented ahead of time to inject someextra flavor into the dough and in thecase of purely sourdough leavened breadto build Lebanese power pre fermentsoften stand for 8 to 16 hours before useso they got plenty of time to developflavor that gets wrapped up into thedough if you were to say any putstraight sourdough starter straight inthe oven which would be like prefermenting all of your flour it would bereally gross that’s our so you kind ofgot a nice balance where you can prefrom inside of it get it really fullyfermented and then you still have theflour that gets fermented less and youdon’t have to worry about it losing itsstructure because of all the aciditythe next day hey Michikosometimes mixing is done in multiple substeps some bakers at a pre hydrating thebodily step sometimes some of thedough’s water is withheld until aseparate mix at the end where it isadded back with the salt this is topbassy nage and sometimes the dough ismixed in multiple phases at differentspeeds on a mechanical mixer whateverthe casemixing is designed to a homogeneous Leaincorporate different ingredients andmoisten the flour be achieve the correctfinal dough temperature and see achievedsome level of gluten development glutenproteins when mechanically alignedthrough mixing and folding trap gas inthe dough leading to the breadspredictable rise the next step is themost critical one bulk fermentation it’scalled this because the entire no massno matter how many pieces of breadthat’s ultimately destined for getfermented in one bulk mass during bulkfermentation the bread will develop itsflavor and in the case of sourdoughbreads its structured temperature is themost critical factor in determining theoutcome of bulk fermentation since itdetermines the enzyme activity andmetabolic profile of sourdoughmicroorganisms this is why it isimportant to mix your there with thisideal temperature in mind some call itfinal dough temperature during bulkfermentation you may also elect to foldthe dough one or more times which willcontinue developing the bread structureafter mixing dividing and shaping bringsa large massive dough into severalsmaller pieces that will become eachfinished loaf some bakers thatappreciate being and the short benchrest step others forego itI’m going to skip it today and gostraight to shaping demonstrating themethod for a round moon and an oblongfatah forgive my French I don’t speakFrench but there are a lot of Frenchwords and baking terms once shape thedough pieces will undergo a finalfermentation also called proofing inlinen lined baskets or in the folds of alinen cloth called Koosh the dough willrise more in this deck and Buistrengthen from bulk fermentation willbegin to break down againas the dough acidifies proofing is oftencarried out for an extended period oftime under refrigeration in order tostreamline bakery workflow in which caseit is called retardation the choice ofproofing temperature significantlyimpacts the flavor of the bread doughpieces get scored or storified if you’reBritish using a safety razor blade thenmaking a hot steamy amande followed bymore time in the dry have been to theoven to finish developing color throughthe Maillard reaction last but not leastthe dough must cool in order to set thecrumb after that it’s yours to devourI’ll recap each of these steps as Idemonstrate them today as well as thelogic behind them okay one more thingbefore we get started we need to talkabout Baker’s back bakers math is asystem for scaling and comparing breadformulas the essence of Baker’s math allingredients are compared against flourthe total of the flours in the dough isalways equal to a hundred percent andall other ingredients are expressed as apercentage of the total flour so a doughwith seven parts water to ten partsflour is 70% water or 70% hydrationright because it’s all expressed as aratio compared to the total flour it’sconfusing at first because 70% hydrationdoes not mean 70% of the dough withwater as you might think that would betotally unmanageable and would not makebread that would be a bag it means forevery 10 parts flour you need to add 7parts water once you begin to useBaker’s math though it’s very easy toscale a formula up and down compareformulas across Baker’s at a glance andadjust formulas for changes in flour orto your preference it’s a nifty tool anda sort of universal language amongBaker’s

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