Several hours before class, please feed your starter (very important!)
The day of the first session of class, before we meet in the evening, please feed your starter half all-purpose, half whole wheat (or half all-purpose, half rye). My starter is 100 percent hydration, which simply means it contains the same amount of water as flour by weight.
Please feed your starter about 8 to 12 hours before class begins, depending on your kitchen environment. During winter, in my cold kitchen, I feed my starter only once on the day I start the bread. In summer, I will feed it twice, at 12 hours and then 6 hours before I start my bread. I will email a class reminder to feed your starter. You may also want to mark your calendar.
If you store your starter in the refrigerator and feed it weekly, please pull it out a day or two before class—and keep it out on the counter—and resume feedings.
Don’t have a mature starter and need to make one?
Ideally, everyone who registers has an active sourdough starter ready to go (otherwise you will not be able to start your bread). The starter is ready when it rises and falls over a period of several hours. It will smell slightly fruity and slightly sour and taste somewhat tangy. Go here for a blog post on starting and maintaining a starter.
We will start two loaves of bread in this class.
The right tools make baking easier. However, you don’t need all of the expensive tools that I’ve listed here. When I was stranded at my mom’s in Canada at the beginning of Covid, I used the minimal equipment she has and my bread turned out, well, amazingly well. Go here for a post on making bread without the fancy tools.
For preparing the dough
- Scale (optional but highly recommended)
- Measuring spoons and cups if you don’t have a scale
- Rubber or bamboo spatula
- Kettle or microwave to heat water up a bit
- 4-cup glass measuring cup
- Large ceramic or glass bowl, 4 to 5 quart capacity, or about 10” to 12” in diameter
For shaping and proofing the dough
- Dough scraper
- Clean surface to shape the dough on (wooden board or counter top)
- Two 9″ banneton baskets OR two 9″ bowls (any material) lined with thin tea towels
- Thin tea towel or baking sheet to cover formed loaves
- Space in your refrigerator to proof your formed dough overnight
For baking the bread
- 5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven or larger, covered 10″ glass pyrex dish (5″ tall minimum), large cast-iron skillet, pizza stone or cookie sheet
- Very sharp knife or lame
- Something for taking notes
- Your jar of active, lively starter
- 650 grams whole wheat flour (5 cups)
- 250 grams unbleached all-purpose or bread flour (1 ¾ cups)
- 200 grams rye or spelt flour (1 ½ cups)
- 25 grams salt (1 ½ scant tablespoons)
- 1 cup extra flour (any of the types listed above) for shaping the dough
- Cornmeal if you won’t bake in a Dutch oven
- I use organic flour but non-organic flour will work.
- Weight measurements of flour are MUCH more accurate than volume measurements. If you think you’ll get serious about baking sourdough, I highly recommend a scale. Mine came from the thrift shop and works well.
- I use tap water in my bread. Filter your water if you prefer. If your water contains high levels of chlorine, the day before class, fill a container with water and cover it securely with a cloth to prevent impurities from falling in. Some of the chlorine will evaporate.
- You don’t need banneton baskets but they do make make dropping the dough into a hot Dutch oven much easier. Mine look like these.
- A homemade lame to score your loaves changes everything! This one is beautiful but very expensive and probably sold out. I made my own out of a razor blade and a wooden stir stick. If you opt to make a lame, be careful!