Lazy Girl Sourdough Bread
Like so many, I started making sourdough during the pandemic. After lots of experimenting, I have landed on this "lazy girl" version. Lazy doesn't mean it takes a short period of time to make, it refers to the low maintenance approach to making sourdough bread. You don't need specialty equipment, there's no intense kneading and the ingredients are pantry staples. The end result is a bakery quality loaf that you don't need to leave the house to get; it's crunchy and perfectly chewy with a mild sourdough flavor.
Your Time: 1 hour Resting Time: 11-14 hours
½ cup flour (can be all-purpose, whole wheat, bread flour, OO flour or mix of different flours)
½ cup warm water (about 100 degrees)
½ cup sourdough starter
12 ounces warm water (about 100 degrees) plus 3 ½ tablespoons
4 cups flour, plus extra for dusting work surface (can be a combo of all purpose, whole wheat, bread or OO flour) – I use 1 cup all purpose, 1 cup whole wheat and 2 cups OO or bread flour
1 heaping tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons starch (I use potato starch but you could use rice flour, cornstarch, or tapioca starch)
To make the sourdough starter: Combine the flour and water in a 2-cup jar . Stir until evenly combined, it won’t be completely smooth but try to stir out any lumps of flour. Cover with a towel and let sit at room temperature for 3 days, at this stage it is important to allow air to circulate into the starter.
After three days the starter will begin to lightly bubble, become more smooth in texture and rise and fall throughout the day. At this point you need to start feeding your starter. Do this by removing ½ cup of the starter (ideally you use this to make some bread but if not just discard it). A few tablespoons of starter should remain. Stir into the remaining starter ½ cup flour and ½ cup warm water. Once combined you can transfer the mixture to a new clean jar. Maintaining a clean jar is important to prevent old, dry starter and flour from mixing into your starter. Let the starter sit, loosely covered, so air circulates into it for about an hour and then you can cover it with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate it. Now you only need to feed your starter once a week. (If you decide to leave your starter out at room temperature it should be fed everyday).
To make the sourdough loaf: In a large bowl combine the starter with 12 ounces warm water. Mix until the starter dissolves into the water.
Stir in the flour using a rubber spatula to combine. The dough will just come together and will look very shaggy. Cover the bowl with a towel and let rest 40 minutes at room temperature.
While the dough rests, combine in a small bowl 3 ½ tablespoons water with the salt. Stir together and then let sit for the same amount of time the dough rests so the salt completely dissolves into the water.
After 40 minutes, add the salt water to the rested dough and gently fold the dough and water mixture together using your hands. This will take several minutes. At first you will think the dough won’t absorb all the water but if you continue to fold the dough over itself, kneading it lightly, it will mix together. It is important to make sure there are no flour clumps during this step. When all the water is absorbed the dough should feel pretty smooth even though it still looks shaggy. Cover the dough and rest for another 30 minutes.
The next step is to stretch the dough 5 times, letting the dough rest between each stretch. I usually stretch the dough every hour (5 hours total) but if you don’t have the time to wait you can stretch it every 30 minutes. The longer the dough stays out, the stronger the sourdough flavor will be.
Each stretch consists of the following:
a. Wet your hands slightly (this helps prevent the dough from sticking to your hands).
b. Then imagine the dough is cut into quarters. Lift one quarter of the dough up high enough that the rest of the dough stretches back down to the bowl. Then fold the dough in half over itself as it falls back into the bowl.
c. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat this process until you have stretched all four corners of the dough.
After each stretch, cover the dough with a towel and let rest at room temperature. At the end of stretching the dough will be very smooth. Cover the bowl with a towel and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F with a 4-quart Dutch oven with a lid inside.
When ready to bake, generously dust your work surface with flour. Lightly dampen your hands, knead the dough a few times to remove any large air bubbles from the dough and then lift the dough onto the dusted work surface. Use your hands to lift the corners of the dough into the center to start forming a ball. Generously sprinkle flour overtop and then flip the dough over so the smooth side is facing up. Start turning the dough in a circle with your hands to form it into a round loaf that feels very taut. Rub the starch onto the top of the dough and down the sides (the starch shouldn’t go on the bottom of the loaf or it will stick to the Dutch oven after baking).
Carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven and adjust the temperature to 475 degrees. Carefully transfer the bread, starch side up, into the hot Dutch oven. Use a paring knife, slice 2-3 vents in the top of the loaf (the knife should not go more than a ¼-inch into the loaf to make the vents and the vents should be about 6 inches in length). Cover the pot and place back in the oven. Bake the bread for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the pot. Bake bread another 30 minutes or until the crust is a deep brown color, almost black on the ridges. When you tap on the crust it should be hard and the bread should sound hollow. Remove from oven and let the bread cool completely in the pot. The bread naturally releases from the pot as it cools. Remove from the oven and enjoy!