1-2-3 Sourdough in a Nutshell

Although I do make other breads, Challah being another favorite of ours…especially for weekend breakfasts of French Toast with real maple syrup from our friend Ron in Hebron, the hubby prefers a good rye and this is his favorite…my 1-2-3 Sourdough.

Lately I’ve been making it with beer as the liquid…Guiness being the beer of choice.  One can is enough for a two decent sized loaves.

If you’ve been reading this bread blog from the beginning, you know that it was Knitting Club that started me on this journey when we all took a bread baking class one evening.  This post is dedicated to my very good friends that I love at Knitting Club!

The basic formula behind 1-2-3 sourdough was developed by a French woman, Flo Makanai that I found on the The Fresh Loaf.  And ever since, 1-2-3 Sourdough has been my go-to bread recipe for the past year.

My basic recipe for two loaves:

200 grams Starter; 400 grams liquid; 600 grams flour; 20 grams salt; 5 grams yeast   These are not hard and fast amounts so don’t stress if you go a little over and under.

The One
200 grams of fed starter…a good way to tell if your starter is ready…drop a little in a glass of water and if it floats its good.

The Two
1 can Guiness Stout (this weights about 384 grams).  Feel free to use just water if beer doesn’t appeal to you.

The Three
600 grams Flour:  200 grams of whole rye and the balance is King Arthur bread flour.  You can mix this up anyway you like but keeping the whole grain flours to no more than 1/4 to 1/3 the total mix.

Mix the starter and the beer together, add the flours and mix.  I have a Danish Whisk which I absolutely love and highly recommend, not just for bread but any hand mixing you do.

Autolyse:  let this mixture sit for anywhere between 20 minutes to a couple of hours.  This allows the starches and gluten to start beginning their bread making journey.

Salt:  20-22 grams of salt

Yeast:  5 grams since I am impatient.  I add yeast to my bread otherwise I’ll be sitting around waiting for many more hours.  If you really want to be adventurous and have loads of time, you can omit this and wait…and wait!

Once the yeast and salt are mixed in, I turn out the dough onto the counter and with wet hands knead it.. if its firm enough, or use my favorite method (but messy) slap and fold.  Pick up the blob of dough and slap it down onto the counter while simultaneously spreading it with your hands.  Gather it it up, lift it up and slap it down again and again till you see it starting to being to stretch a little.

Stretching and folding....the fold
Stretching and folding….the fold
Stretching and folding....the stretch
Stretching and folding….the stretch

Take the dough, put it in your proofing container and set it aside for the bulk ferment phase.

I don’t have an oven with a proofing option so I  prepare my microwave as a proofing box.  I boil water in a measuring cup which makes the microwave warm and steamy and a nice 80-90 degrees.

This stretch, slap and fold/knead process is done 3-4 times during the first hour of the bulk ferment phase.  Each time I remove the dough to knead it, I reboil the water to keep the environment warm and steamy…DO NOT microwave your dough!!!

After the first hour and series of stretch/slap and fold/kneading, let the dough bulk ferment phase until it is about 3/4  of double…but it could go the full double in size. 

After sprinkling flour on the counter, I turn the dough out, move it around a little bit with the bench knife, split it and let it bench rest 20 mins or so lightly covered with a towel or plastic.  IMG_0673I’m also not afraid to use a little more flour if necessary but being careful not to fold the flour inside the bread or you will end up with some white lines inside.

After the bench rest, shape the dough using the bench knife, pushing it around on the surface gently to make it into round boules and with a taut skin but careful not to split that skin.  You do not have to seal the splits on the bottom of the boules but place them split side down in the bannetons.  This assures that when you turn them out for baking the splits are on top.

IMG_0627Place the dough into your prepared bannetons.  I use brown rice flour.  Well prepared with rice flour will prevent the dough from sticking.  Lightly flour the top of the dough and place the bannetons into plastic bags…ones from the vegetable section of the grocery store work well or large bread or ziploc bags.  The dough should be allowed to rise to about 3/4 of double…no more or you run the risk of overproofing.  I usually just let it sit long enough for my oven to heat which is about 20-30 minutes.  You can also use the Ken Forkish finger dent test.

If you haven’t done so yet, heat your oven to 500 degrees with your dutch oven or baking stone inside.

Turn the loaves out of the bannetons onto parchment paper (this makes it easy to put in your oven) and score the tops with a Lame or very sharp knife (a Bayerische Brotmesser works great!).

These loaves bake up with incredible crispy crusts when done in a dutch oven but you can also bake them on a stone or baking sheet covered with parchment, using the hot water in a pan / spray the inside of the oven  method.  But do yourself a favor a get at least one dutch oven!  You could also cover the boule on the stone with a metal bowl large enough for expansion.

After placing the loaves in the oven, turn the temperature down to 450.  Bake the loaves covered for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190-200 degrees.



P.S.  If you see any discrepancies, let me know and I’ll correct them.  This was a quick mind dump!


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