Sourdough

Submitted by Alisha MacMillan

Recipe | Devotional

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Sourdough Bread
Feeding: 
-Feed equal parts starter, flour, water (1:1:1); ie., 50g of each measured out
-You need to ‘discard’/remove from your starter before each feed 

(use to bake other delicious goods—pizza dough, pancakes, muffins, bagels, english muffins, croissants, etc
-If left out on countertop, feed every 12 hours twice daily
-If refrigerated, feed once weekly

-An active/happy starter will be bubbly and should double or triple in size after a feed (if left on counter—much slower process in fridge)
-Refrigerated starter creates a more sour taste (this is a good thing); the yeast activity slows as yeast becomes dormant, and bacteria thrives
(again, this is actually a good thing)

Knowing when your starter is ready:
The float test– Test a small dallop of your starter by dropping it into water. If it sinks, wait or feed again if 8-12 hours has past. If it floats, bake on!    
*This is what ‘they’ say anyway, but I’m not 100% convinced that it matters; the first loaf I did, I forgot to do the float test and it still worked well! So, I never do it.

Dough:
Autolyse
500g or approximately 4 c plus 2 tbsp flour
350g (350ml) or approximately 1.5c
-Stir into a mass, cover with saran wrap and let rest for at least 45mins (I leave all day while I’m at work). 

Then add (to autolysed dough):
50g or 1/4 c starter (if it passed the float test)
10g or 1.5 tsp salt
-Mix all ingredients until dough has formed/all ingredients have been incorporated. 


Stretch and fold:

-Every 30mins for ~2hours. Until a nice gluten structure has been accomplished—”window paning” – *Teresa Greenway talks about this in her video referenced below

Bulk rise:
-Cover with saran wrap. Let rise for next few hours until doubled in size.
*This can take 2-6 hours (depends on a number of factors); the key is that it should increase in size, approximately 30-50% rise
*You can pop this into the fridge overnight if you wish, if it is taking too long

*Or pop it into the oven TURNED OFF, but turn the LIGHT ON (creates a warmer environment to speed up the process)

Pre-shape:
-Pour dough onto table. Use a dough/bench scraper to shape your boule (fancy word for the ball you’re making). 
*Teresa Greenway has a neat technique that does not require a bench scraper—see referenced video, below 

*An alternate method shown is shown in the “15 mistakes most beginner sourdough bakers make” YouTube video referenced below (by Mike Greenfield). Scroll to minute 15 and hit play to watch. Be careful in how you handle the loaf as you do not want to lose your rise.
*If you flour your surface at all, use a gluten free flour (corn/rice) and only dust lightly; you actually want your dough to be able to grip the countertop
Bench rest:
-After first shape, let rest for 30mins. 

Final shape:
-Shape again (as described above)

Proofing (preheat your oven here! See ‘baking section’):
*Use a corn/rice flour (any gluten free option will work) for dusting for proofing
-Carefully flip over into a banneton basket/colander lined with a towel covered in a GLUTEN FREE flour (seam side facing up so smooth side faces down into the basket)
-Do not forget to heavily flour your banneton/basket before you put the dough in because you do NOT want it to stick when you take it out – this would ruin your gluten layer and your many hours of work may be wasted—handle with care
-You can roll dough in sesame or pimento seeds, or whatever else you like before placing into banneton/basket, or leave plain
-Cover with plastic bag, and let rise again (can leave overnight in the fridge or longer – 20+ hours! Or leave on counter for a shorter proofing ~2-3hr).
*It is a bit tricky to know when it is ready, use the poke test:
-Poke dough, if dough springs back up completely to the surface (leaves no indentation from finger), leave it to proof a little longer (it is ‘underproofed’)
-If you poke it and it leaves a big dent and does not spring back at all, then it’s ‘overproofed’ (oopsie ☹)
-The sweet spot- when you poke it and your finger print springs back just a little bit, or ~halfway, then bake on! ‘perfectly proofed’
(Poke test referenced from Mike Greenway’s “15 mistakes most beginner sourdough bakers make” YouTube video)

Scoring (do not score unless your oven is well-preheated and ready to rock!):
-Carefully flip dough out of banneton and onto parchment paper (if using). Dust off excess flour (leave a little as it adds to your beautiful design in the end)
*You might want to dust with a rice flour as it has a higher scorch temperature and will leave a beautiful white contrast coloring for your design; or consider a 50% all purpose and 50% rice flour mix (Maurizio Leo, 2017)
-Score your dough—be creative!  (Watch the video referenced at the top regarding scoring)

-You can just use 1-2 simple little slices, but you must score the dough at the top in order to break the gluten seal
*You must do this quickly and then pop into the oven quickly afterwards, otherwise a new gluten seal will form
*Spritz with water from a spray bottle just prior to popping into the oven to bake (creates steam which makes for a nicer crust)

Baking:
*Note times vary with different ovens, so watch your bread carefully
-Preheat the oven to 500°F with dutch oven [and lid] inside (or baking brick/stone with upside down dutch oven); preheat for 45mins-1hour prior to baking!
Carefully place boule on parchment into the dutch oven once at temp and immediately after scoring
-Turn down to 450 and bake covered for 20 mins
-Remove lid and bake for 30 mins. This is where you can evaluate your ‘oven spring’ (how much it puffed up while baking)
-Carefully pull the boule out of the dutch oven (if using) and bake on the rack for a final 5-10 mins IF NECESSARY until a medium to dark brown color. 
*Bottom of bread will sound hollow when knocked and feel fairly light. 

*NOTE: I remove from oven after 50 mins because in my oven that seems to be perfect (I omit the last 5-10mins baking time

Helpful tips when you are just starting out:
1) Find some starter from a friend of local bakery (I have some and would share with you!)

2) Make sure you have lots of flour on hand. You’ll need regular flour like all purpose and or whole wheat, as well as a gluten free flour like corn or rice.

3) It isn’t entirely necessary to have a kitchen scale, but it would be optimal. Without a scale, you might just have to play around with your measurements more. I have tried to provide near equivalent measurements in the recipe below.

4) Think about your baking system. You need to be able to create a tight seal during your bake; many people bake in a dutch oven with a lid, or a baking stone with an upside down dutch oven to create the seal. You might consider purchasing a bench scraper and a baker’s lame, but these are not completely necessary either, I have baked perfectly beautiful breads without them (a sharp exacto knife or razor blade will score your bread will too)!


5) Mike Greenfield provides some helpful resources including some neat timeframe guides that you might find helpful when planning your bakes (the 9-5 bake is my favorite.. because it works well with working full time!)

6) Anyone who is a baker at heart will appreciate this post in Baking Skills by Teresa L Greenway April 22, 2020:
https://thebakingnetwork.com/figuring-out-bakers-percent/

Video recommendations:
Before you begin, I recommend watching videos on YouTube to familiarize yourself with sourdough bread and the many involved intricacies. Anything by ‘Bake with Jack’, ‘Mike Greenfield at Pro Home Cooks’, or ‘Teresa Greenway’; there is a wide variety of other YouTube resources also, but I have found these guys to be most helpful in my journey. I will reference a few of my favorite videos below:


1) 15 mistakes most beginner sourdough bakers make: https://youtu.be/BJEHsvW2J6M

2) I got some other great tips from Theresa’s videos online (she has lots): https://youtu.be/D4RE6usC9c0

3) Shaping your dough:
Hands only method- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYWyxkBWq7Q
Using a bench scraper- https://youtu.be/vEG1BjWroT0

4) Scoring video: https://youtu.be/wfoC-daJq8E

5) How to correct an overproofed loaf: https://youtu.be/0VmK9mnp_1k

6) The scrapings method: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj6YpNCUYYQ&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR3oAdEVgPYBDHmgRidmd3PDyyu-O9jiIfQoi1V8crAnn8Wk2RHI0D0iThQ 


Here’s a great article all about scoring also:
Leo, M., Bread Scoring Techniques: Creative, Decorative cuts. King Arthur Flour Company, Inc. https://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2017/10/20/bread-scoring-techniques. Accessed May 05th, 2020.

Tip: If baking in a dutch oven, line the bottom of the DO with parchment paper. Also, place either a pie plate or a cookie sheet under the DO when baking to prevent burning the bottom.

Also, I recommend baking with steam– makes a much nicer crust. Place a pie pan filled with ice cubes at the bottom of the oven during baking. Happy baking!!

Jesus is the Bread of Life
Bread has been around forever. It is one of the most important components of one’s diet and has been aptly named ‘The Staff of Life’ (Corson, 1893). It has been said that good bread consists of 3 ingredients: good flour, good yeast, and strength to knead it well” (Corson, 1893). Bread provides lasting nourishment for our physical bodies and is also used a lot by Jesus as an illustration to teach. Here are some of those teachings for you to consider as you make this sourdough loaf. 

If you have never read John 6:25-59 before, I urge you to read this today. Below is just a taste of this amazing passage:
32 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” 

Jesus says this so simply—we can obtain this fresh bread/life quite easily, if we just believe and have faith in Him – Jesus Christ. We need to feed on Him daily so that we will be sustained by Him and persevere into the Kingdom of God; feed on His holy word, feed on Him through faith in your prayer life, feed on knowing that he will provide for your every need (not wants), worship Him, share Him with everyone you meet.

Contrary to this, Jesus warns us in Matthew 16, about ‘The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees’. 

“5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

What did he mean by this warning? Luke 12:1 reads:
“In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, ‘Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.’” 

Leaven, is an ingredient added to dough to initiate fermentation; especially a portion of fermented dough preserved from a previous batch (this is the sourdough starter). The word leaven is often used in the Bible in reference to sin and corruption, it is also used to indicate permeating growth (Tenney & Douglas, 1999). Jesus was warning His disciples of the false teachings/doctrines being spread among the people; their corrupt teachings and sinful lifestyles were spreading throughout the land like wild yeast and they were growing in numbers. These hypocrites even tried to make Jesus stumble in Matthew 22:15-18.

Paul says to the Galatians:
7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.” Galatians 5:7-10

And in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, Paul again says:
7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 

If you recall the Old Testament story, when Joseph, son of Jacob, predicted a famine was soon to occur in Egypt, the Pharoah ordered that a large store of grain be set aside to ensure sufficient quantities were available at the time of the famine. When Hebrew slaves fled from Egypt, their hasty exodus left no time for them to wait around for their dough to rise. They had to eat unleavened bread, which is still eaten even today as a symbol of the Jewish holiday Passover, and also what we share around the Lord’s table during communion each week when we gather together to remember Jesus body. (Tenney & Douglas, 1999)

In Luke 13:20-21, Jesus tells the parable of the mustard seed and the yeast and he asked, “what shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour, until it worked all through the dough.”

“Hear the good news: the kingdom of God is present in the world. It is wild and persistent, it is surprising, it is growing, it is coming, the kingdom of God is rising like leavened dough and we are invited to work and to wonder at the stunning beauty of it.” (Popper, 2017)

There are endless examples throughout the Bible that references unbelievers asking God and Jesus to provide for them signs which might serve as proof that He is real and His story is truth based. If we return back to John chapter 6, we read about Jesus feeding the 5 thousand with just five small barley loaves and two small fish; the people did not just sample these, they ate until they were full. In verse 16, we read about Jesus walking on the water. Following this, a crowd of people went out searching for Jesus for they were so amazed and we read on further:
25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”?

Then in verse 30, pay attention to what they said:

30 So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’]””

It perturbs me to think that they would stand looking at Jesus Christ, face to face, and yet still they would ask for proof, though he had just shown them multiple signs! We by nature want to put everything to the test to confirm facts before we will be willing/ready to proceed. Think about this as your bread is ‘proofing’ and as you do ‘the poke test’ or ‘the float test’; you are waiting and watching for certain signs to prove to you that the dough will create the perfect loaf of bread.

Remember when you’re making this bread that no matter how delicious it may be, the true ‘bread of life’ that we all need is only found in Jesus. Just like the leaven works through the dough, we know that false teaching can spread in our lives and we must be on guard against it. Remember that we are part of a wonderful Kingdom, established by Jesus, that spreads and permeates every area of our lives. Just like the yeast are so small that you cant even see them, we may feel small, but if we are working for God, the small things we do can have a massive impact on the people around us for good.

~Alisha MacMillan


References:
Corson, J. (1893). The home queen cook book. Thompson and Thomas: 262 Wabash Avenue.

Tenney, M. C., and Douglas, J. D. (1999). The new international bible dictionary: based on the NIV. Zondervan publishing house: 1999.

Popper, L. (2017, March 31). guest post: the kingdom of god is like sourdough. Retrieved May 15, 2020, from http://kendallvanderslice.com/blog/guest-post-the-kingdom-of-god-is-like-sourdough
The Holy bible.  All references taken from the New international version unless otherwise specified above.