Very important! Please feed your starter before class
All registrants need to have an active sourdough starter ready to go in order to be able to make their bread during class. The starter is ready when it has almost finished rising—you’ll still see a dome at the top and lots of bubbles—or it has just begun to fall. It will smell slightly fruity and only very slightly sour if at all. Go here for a blog post on starting and maintaining a starter.
If for some reason you can’t meet for the first short Zoom session on Friday morning to feed our starters, please feed yours about 8 to 12 hours before Friday evening’s class begins, depending on your kitchen environment. You know your starter best.
If you store your starter in the refrigerator and feed it weekly, please pull it out a day or two before class to resume feedings—and keep it out on the counter.
Class Materials for Two Loaves
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 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-inch diameter
For shaping and proofing the dough
- Dough scraper
- Clean surface to shape the dough on (wooden board or counter top)
- Two 9-inch banneton baskets OR two 9-inch 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, cast-iron combo cooker, covered 10-inch glass pyrex dish (5-inches 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)
- Extra flour (any of the types listed above) for shaping and dusting the dough
- Cornmeal if you won’t bake in a Dutch oven or cast-iron combo cooker
- 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! I made my own out of a razor blade and a wooden stir stick. If you opt to make a lame, be careful! My daughter Charlotte bought me this one for Mother’s Day this year and I love it.