Delicious sourdough bread recipe with a no-discard starter 🍞 🍞
Lately, we have been experimenting more with breadmaking. We are both very fascinated by the fermentation process of food, and we have been experimenting with fermentation here and there over the past two years. It makes us more involved with the food we eat and this is something that excites us. Some time ago, we started experimenting with sourdough starters with the idea to make bread once in a while and use it for other bakes like pancakes, cakes, crackers; you name it. After some failed sourdough bread attempts and some iterations on the way, we can say we are making some pretty delish sourdough bread ourselves! We are getting to the point where people ask us to share our recipe and some helpful guidelines. So… here is our full recipe!
The recipe itself might be on the long side, but please stick along – we will guide you through the starter, dough handling and the baking process of sourdough bread, and we want to help you understand why each step is necessary. But let us first start with the no discard sourdough starter.
Already have a good starter? Click here to skip to the sourdough bread recipe.
Super easy sourdough starter without discard!
When we were looking for good sourdough starter recipes a few years back, Google made us believe that sourdough was not something for us to bake – it required many days of preparation and a large amount of flour, most of which used to feed the starter to be discarded the next day. Thus, we decided to stick with ‘standard’ bread with dried or fresh yeast. Sadly, this often resulted in a dough that did not want to rise enough. It was an Instagram post from Max La Manna, in which he was feeding his starter without discarding good flour and showcasing his latest bake creation, that made us curious about making our own starter – a great account to follow, by the way!
Our current starter is several weeks old now and has provided us with many delicious loaves of bread. She (they call it mother) is currently thriving on a mixture of 75% rye flour and 25% whole wheat flour. Why this ratio? We have experienced that rye flour results in a much bigger rise and makes our starter hungrier (faster results when baking), but we like feeding her a scoop of this and a scoop of that.
It is essential that you use good quality flour – preferably whole wheat. We accidentally killed our previous starter when we fed her bleached all-purpose flour. Within a day, it was stinking up our kitchen with a cheesy smell, while it is supposed to smell sweet/sour/yeasty.
So, let’s dive into how you make a starter from scratch and how you can keep her alive and thriving for a long time (even 122 years if you intend to make bread for a while) without discarding anything – they often refer to this method as the scraping method. Still, we like to call it the shake and save method (explained later).
Prep Time: 30 mins - Total Time: 6 days - Yield: initial starter for 2 loaves
Required equipment and ingredients:
- High-quality flour, preferably whole wheat or rye – the fresher, the better. You can make your starter with all-purpose flour, but it will take much longer and is not guaranteed to be foolproof.
- Clean water – filtered if possible. The tap water in the Netherlands works just fine. If your water contains a lot of chlorine (you can smell it), let it dissipate for a few hours or boil it first. Water with chlorine can inhibit the fermentation process.
- A cool looking empty jar to house the starter. One that is not too small – we use a swing-top jar that can fit 1.2 litres (about 5 cups). We do not use the swing-top mechanism itself, but the lid is heavy enough to keep the nasties out and allows CO2 to escape the jar. Make sure the jar is large; 400 grams of starter grows out of a 1.2-litre jar.
- A kitchen scale. You can sure go without, but since you will be feeding your starter with tiny bits, a scale will give you more control and better results in the end.
- Something to stir with. We like to use a chopstick because it is less messy and doesn’t disturb the starter that much. We do not want to discard a spoonful of starter with every feeding.
- A rubber band to mark the jar, so you can see how well the starter develops.
No discard sourdough starter instructions (first starter):
- Day 1: Measure 25 grams of rye flour and 25 grams of room temperature water, mix them well, and pour the mixture in a clean jar – the consistency should be similar to that of peanut butter. Cover the jar loosely with a lid – just lay it on top – or with a piece of cloth and a rubber band. It is essential that build-up CO2 is able to escape but that other nasties can not get inside the jar. Leave the jar in a warm room in your house (kitchen or living room) – preferably on a location where you can see it so you can follow its progress, but without direct sunlight.
- Day 2: Remove the lid from the jar after its first 24h rest. There should be a sour smell in the jar. If it smells cheesy, you have probably used the wrong flour, and it is better to start over again. Feed your starter with 25 grams of rye flour and 25 grams of water and stir thoroughly. Cover the jar and leave it at the exact location where you have found it today.
- Day 3: About 24 hours later, tiny bubbles should be visible inside the mixture. The sour smell is probably powerful, but that is a good thing! Feed it another 25 grams of rye flour and 25 grams of water.
- Day 4: On the fourth day, you will probably notice a different kind of smell – more soft and sweet usually, meaning that it is thriving. The bubbles should be significantly bigger now, and you will probably see some skid marks on the jar that tell you the starter has risen and collapsed on itself, which is normal. Feed it another 25 grams of rye flour and 25 grams of water.
- Day 5: The starter probably looks very fluffy and smells yeasty (sour/sweet/alcoholic?). Be patient! Just feed in another time with 25 grams of rye and 25 grams of water.
- Day 6: On the sixth day, your starter is healthy, thriving, and almost ready to use! It only requires one more feeding with 25 grams of rye flour and 25 grams of water, and a few hours to get active. If you have checked on your starter several times a day in the previous days, you have probably noticed that it roughly doubles in size after 3-4 hours after it was fed and that it slowly collapses on itself if you wait a few hours longer. You want to use the starter at its peak – doubled in size before it collapses.
How to keep your starter alive for a long time
We usually use about 200 to 250 grams of starter to make two loaves of sourdough bread and leave the rest of the scraps in the jar. You can use these scraps to regrow your starter within a day if you must – add 125 grams of water to the jar, close the lid tightly, shake well, add 125 grams of rye flour, stir it and wait a few hours to activate the starter (hence the name: shake and save method). It will be ready to use within a day (not the six days you required to grow the starter in the first place).
Since most people do not feel like baking every day (unless you are a baker, of course), it is good to know that it is possible to slow down and even stop the fermentation process when the starter is stored in a cooler (temperature) environment. When left on a counter, it requires feeding at least once a day – skipping one can kill it. When stored in the fridge, it only requires feeding once a week. You can even keep it alive for a month in the freezer and start it up again when you take it out. Do not forget to name your starter (ours is called Leonardough); this apparently helps to remind you that it requires feeding to survive.
Our starter strategy is as follows:
- use 250/300grams of starter and leave the scraps in the jar;
- add 50 grams of water and shake the jar;
- pour the mixture in a bowl and clean the jar;
- pour back the mixture stir in 50 grams of rye flour;
- place the jar in the fridge until next feeding;
- if we do not intend to use it within a week, we feed it with 25/25 grams of rye/water and store it again for a few days. If we do intend to use it, we take it out roughly 4 hours before use, add 75/75 grams of rye/hand-warm water to spark it back to life in a few hours!
Delicious sourdough bread recipe with variations
Now that you have your good and thriving no-waste sourdough starter, it is time to bake some delicious sourdough bread! This, however, is a delicate process and not something one can rush. Well, you can, but you will end up with a dense loaf of sourdough bread. If you want something delicate and fluffy, it is crucial that you take your time to handle the dough carefully and give it a lot of rising time. In this recipe, we’ll start in the morning with a recently fed starter, some dough handling during the day, overnight proofing and baking the delicious sourdough bread the following morning.
Prep Time: 3 hours - Cook Time: 1 hour - Total Time: 24 hours - Yield: 2 loaves
We do not like to tell people that they should buy more stuff, but proper equipment usually results in better baking results. You do not need all of them, but if you intend to buy one of them, check yard sales or second-hand stores – most locations have good collections of baking equipment for sale.
- A kitchen scale to measure the weight of all ingredients. It is essential that flour is measured in grams because flour and starter weight can differ significantly in volume.
- A Dutch oven as a baking container. Baking bread in a Dutch oven (cast-iron cooking pot with lid) works like a charm. The moisture from the dough gets trapped inside the sealed oven, creating steam that creates a fantastic bread crust. If you do not have a Dutch oven, you can also bake the loaf on a baking tray or in a cake tin, but this can result in a very dark crust on top and lightly baked at the bottom. Our Dutch oven is approximately 30 centimetres in diameter (12 inches), working well for smaller loaves.
- Banneton baskets to proof the dough before baking. They are usually made of coiled rattan or another wood fibre and allows the dough to breathe during the proofing process, resulting in a dough that holds its shape better while baking. If you do not own a banneton basket, you can also use a towel-lined bowl generously covered with flour.
- A sharp knife or scoring blade to score the proofed dough. Scoring (cutting the dough) allows the dough to expand/rise during the first few minutes of baking (also known as oven spring).
- A dough scraper or spatula to clean your workspace and bowls. This can be very helpful when using a very wet dough.
- Your entire first sourdough starter or 100 grams of hungry starter (taken from the fridge) + 100 grams of rye flour + 100 grams of warm water
- 600 grams whole wheat flour
- 200 grams of built or all-purpose flour
- 200 grams of rye flour
- 750 grams of warm water
- 25 grams of table or sea salt, dissolved in 50 grams of warm water
- Other ingredients to spice up your sourdough bread. Our absolute recommendations:
- 500 grams of soaked raisins + 6 grams toasted fennel seeds + 6 grams of toasted coriander seeds + 20 grams of toasted sesame seeds
- 200 grams of black olives + 75 grams of sundried tomatoes + 8 large gloves of garlic + 3 sprigs of rosemary.
- 200 grams of chopped walnuts + 75 grams of soaked mixed seeds + 30 grams of agave sirup + 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- Additional flour (all-purpose and rye) to dust your surface and dough.
- Start the morning by feeding your sourdough starter. Combine 100 grams of starter with 100 grams of whole wheat flour and 100 grams of warm hand warm water in a large bowl. Cover the bowl and place it in a warm spot and let it activate for 2 to 4 hours until it is doubled in size.
- Take 50 grams of starter from the bowl and store it in the starter jar – this is now your new active sourdough starter. Feed it one more time and place it in your refrigerator for next time.
- Add 600 grams of whole wheat flour, 200 grams of built/all-purpose flour, 200 grams of rye flour and 750ml of warm water to the remainder of the sourdough starter (also called leaven). Mix the ingredients thoroughly, cover the bowl and set aside for roughly 30 minutes. Yes, the dough is supposed to be on the wet side, leave it like that.
- Dissolve 25 grams of salt and add it to the dough. If you are making the version with walnuts/agave, this is the right time to add the agave syrup as well (40 grams for two loaves). Mix the dough thoroughly with your hands and set it aside for bulk fermentation. It is important that you cover the dough with a wet towel while it rises. This is where you want to start keeping track of the time.
- After 1 hour of bulk fermentation, it is time to work the dough by stretching and folding it (or slapping and folding if you have made the dough even wetter – some recipes add 850ml water). This process is very important and replaces kneading. This method activates the gluten in the dough without disturbing the dough too much. If you are not familiar with this technique, check out these video’s for the stretch and fold or the slap and fold method – we really recommend checking them out before you stretch the dough. Leave the dough in the bowl, wet two hands, reach from the sides to the bottom of the dough, pull it up, and fold it on top of itself. Turn the bowl a quarter of a turn and repeat. Do this at least 4 full turns. Set it aside again (covered).
- For the following 3 hours, you want to work your dough every 30 minutes. This is important if you like to have a nice and fluffy loaf. If you skip this process, the dough will become very soggy and will not hold shape during baking, resulting in a very dense loaf of sourdough bread. If you want to add other ingredients (nuts, seeds, raisins, spices) to the dough, do that after the second stretch and fold.
- End the bulk fermentation after roughly 4 hours (1h+6x30min). Clean your countertop and cover it generously with all-purpose flour. Dump the dough onto the surface and cut it into two halves. Take one half, pull the sides gently and fold it on top of itself. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat. Do roughly 4 times until the dough is firm.
- Shape the loaves into a boule (round) or batard (oval). Here are some excellent examples of how to shape a boule and a batard.
- Sprinkle the banneton baskets or cloth-lined bowls generously with all-purpose flour. Do NOT sprinkle it with whole wheat flour – this will make the dough sticky on the outside. If this is the first time you are using a banneton basket, check out this video on how to ‘break in’ a banneton basket.
- After you have sprinkled the banneton with all-purpose flour, sprinkle the shaped dough with rye flour to make it less sticky and give the loaf’s crust that extra taste. Place the formed loaves into the baskets upside down. Cover them with a kitchen towel.
- Proof the loaves for at least 2 hours in the banneton basket in the refrigerator. We like to proof them overnight and bake the loaves fresh in the morning.
- After proofing, take the loaves from the refrigerator. Place the Dutch oven in the oven and pre-heat it to 230 degrees Celsius (roughly 450 Fahrenheit).
- When heated, take the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid. Hold the banneton basked above the pan and carefully drop it inside.
- Score the loaf with a sharp blade (about 10 mm deep), cover with the lid and place it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes at 230 degrees Celsius, remove the lid and bake for another 30 minutes.
- Take the loaf from the oven and carefully work it out of the pan. Place it on top of a cooling rack and let it rest for at least 2 hours.
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