Piece of life
For those who follow me, you already know that I love bread [by the way, don’t forget to follow me on social media 😉 if not done already, click on these links facebook and instagram]. With the pandemic, I decided to start a new sourdough. I had raised one a few years ago but swamped in the daily routine of a working mom, I neglected it and lost it. So this time, a little out of necessity but mostly out of envy, I decided to start a new one and take care of it. This was last April, and it has been doing wonderfully ever since.
Star ingredient: the sourdough
I created my sourdough by following Eric Kayser’s recipe [famous french baker]. His recipe is available on his website, in French and in English, so I will let you check that out by yourself. Just be aware that it takes several days to create a starter, but it is effortless. You will only need water [room temperature], organic unbleached and rye flours, and a little honey [or maple syrup, or sugar]. For those who are scared of maintaining sourdough, don’t be. It only takes a few minutes every 2 – 3 days if your sourdough is kept at room temperature, once a week or even every two weeks if it’s in the fridge. The choice of preservation depends on how often you go baking. I bake one loaf per week [on average], and I keep my sourdough in the refrigerator. This prevents me from feeding it often and, therefore, having a huge quantity of it.
Your starter will need to be activated several hours before making your bread. How long exactly? Well, this is where it gets a little tricky. If I did not encounter any difficulty creating the sourdough, it took me a while to get familiar with it. I read books and blogs and tried several recipes and methods [with or without kneading] … I always got good bread, but it was not what I wanted. What I understood is that each sourdough is different. One method that works for one might not work for another. Many factors influence the sourdough: the temperature, the type of flour, humidity, water… This summer, I struggled because my preparation was always too liquid, and my bread was flat. So I had to decrease the amount of water. Since the weather is colder, I no longer have this problem; my sourdough is firmer, and my preparation is too, so I added water to my dough. You will have to adapt to your sourdough and get to know it.
My [easy] method for sourdough bread, like at the baker’s
After many tests [and failures], I finally found a method that works well for me: bread that looks straight out of the baker’s [or almost]. I use a dutch oven and a no-kneading method. It is elementary but a little long: allow 24 hours before putting your loaf in the oven. It means you will have to plan.
Here are some tips from my personal experience
1/ The dutch oven is essential. This is how I got the best bread without kneading. I have a Le Creuset, and I won’t change it for the world. But obviously, it requires a certain budget, so don’t worry; you can find some good dutch ovens at lighter prices.
2/ The starter needs to be activated before making the dough. I take it out of the fridge about 8 to 12 hours before making my dough. I usually feed him 100 g of water at room temperature and filter [thanks, Brita] and 100 g of flour [I use rye flour about once a month and unbleached flour the rest of the time]. I cover it with a paper towel and leave it at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.
3/ Once my dough is ready, I put it in a bowl, and I cover it with plastic wrap [detail which makes the difference, in my opinion, I did not obtain the same result with just a cloth placed on top] and I let stand again for 12 hours.
4/ I shape my loaf, place it in the dutch oven, seal it with plastic wrap again, and let it stand in the range off, with a bowl of boiling water, for 2 hours [this step is crucial because it will allow you to obtain a nice crust].
About the sourdough and walnuts bread recipe
I just love bread, all kinds, but I have a soft spot for rustic bread and nuts or seeds. And of all the slices of bread, my favourite is the walnut one. You can serve it at any time and occasion, from breakfast to more sophisticated meals. Just try it!
No-knead sourdough and walnuts bread, an easy recipe
- 100 ml sourdough
- 60 g rye flour
- 440 g unbleached flour
- 320 ml water at room temperature and filtered
- 80 g walnuts roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Feed your starter about 8 to 12 hours before preparing your dough.
- In a bowl pour the sourdough (already activated) and the water. Mix.
- Add the rye flour, unbleached flour and salt. Mix roughly to obtain a paste (no need to be homogeneous).
- Film with plastic wrap. Leave to rest for 8 to 12 hours at room temperature.
- Place the dough on a floured surface (it will be a little sticky, also flour your hands). Work it a little with the heel of your hand to obtain a homogeneous paste (lets say about 10 times), and add the walnuts.
- Place parchment paper in the bottom of the dutch oven and place the loaf on top. Seal with plastic wrap.
- Boil some water then place it in a bowl inside the oven off, on the lower rack. Place the dutch oven on the middle rack. Leave to rest for 2 hours.
- Take the dutch oven and the bowl of water out of the oven, and preheat it to 230°C (450°F).
- Score the dough with a blade or a sharp knife, put the lid on the dutch oven and place it in the oven for 30 min. Then remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Let cool before enjoying.