Cole Forge

A small business in the hills of Vermont on a mission to improve the way people heat.

Wood stoves for space heating, cooking, and domestic hot water.

15 Minute Sourdough Recipe

I find that lots of folks give up on baking bread because of all the time and prep involved.  So I developed a sourdough recipe that’s REALLY simple. It takes less than 15 minutes of active work to kick out a really tasty, beautiful loaf. It’s also very simple from an ingredient perspective: The dough is a mix of sourdough starter, organic flour, water (spring or well water work great, chloriney town water doesn’t), and a little salt. 

Mix everything together in a big bowl.  It shouldn't be so thin that it actually flows, but it should be wetter than pretty much any bread dough you’ve ever seen.  If you give it 15 minutes to sit, it should settle and flatten itself out in the bowl.  If it seems too wet, add some more flour. If it seems too dry/stiff, add some more water.

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Fermentation
Then you let it ferment there until it roughly doubles in volume.  This will take 8 hours if the starter has been fed a lot recently and your house is warm or it could take 24 hours if the starter has been neglected and your house is at 55 degrees.  Normally it's about 12 hours, which is convenient for starting it in the morning and eating it with dinner, but erring on the side of waiting too long is better than baking it too early.  You’ll eventually see it start to collapse and shrink back a bit and that’s how you know you’ve waited too long. That said, it’s not a big deal if you bake it after it has started to collapse - it will just be more sour and dense (some people are into that!).  

From there, you can dump it into your loaf pan / dutch oven. No kneading. No forming into complex loaf shapes. No dirty countertop and floury hands. No secondary rise. No additional proofing time. 

Baking
I normally bake my bread in a dutch oven and I can’t recommend that enough - it locks steam in and gives you an incredible crust. You can also bake in a loaf pan if you want something that looks like a sandwich loaf. Regardless of what you choose, make sure you grease your baking dish (or sprinkle it with cornmeal) so that it doesn’t stick. I normally bake somewhere in the neighborhood of 450-500F.  If you’re baking in a dutch oven, leave it in there for 30 minutes and then pull the lid and leave it in for another 30-50 minutes depending on the size of the loaf.  When it turns a nice golden brown color, it's ready to go. In an uncovered loaf pan, it normally goes faster - 45min to an hour of total bake time depending on the size of the loaf. Just keep an eye on the color - a light honey color will leave you with a doughy center and a dark brown crust will leave you with a drier interior.

Every bread recipe I’ve ever read suggests that you allow the loaf to cool to room temperature before slicing into it, and I think that’s one of the rudest suggestions I’ve ever come across. Bust right in there - the steam-burnt fingertips will be worth it. Your taste buds will weep tears of happiness.

Starter Maintenance
You’ll want to feed the starter periodically - just pour some flour and water in and mix it all up. The ratio isn’t that important. The more often you feed it, the faster it will rise. If you don’t expect to use it for a couple weeks, it’s best to toss it in the fridge where it’ll hibernate. Otherwise, you can leave it on the countertop. You’ll eventually find whatever sourdough rhythm works best for you.  If it’s not actively bubbling, feed it a couple times to wake it up before you bake with it (or just let your dough rise for longer).

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Variations

I use this same basic recipe for all sorts of different bready products. Want naan bread? Add some yogurt to the dough. Pizza dough? Add some olive oil. Cinnamon rolls? Add butter, milk, and eggs. Don’t be afraid to mix in other types of flour too - rye, whole wheat, cornmeal, semolina - go nuts!

I like to add tasty little morsels to my sourdough sometimes too. Here are a few of the more successful combos:

  • garlic-cheddar-pesto

  • maple-cranberry-cinnamon

  • mushroom-goat cheese-cracked pepper

  • sundried tomato-parmesean-olive

  • honey-oat-walnut


Have fun and feel free to reach out with questions!