Ever since I posted my sourdough starter recipe, I have been getting so many messages for some simple recipes to do with the starter. And another query was on how to convert any yeast recipe to sourdough ones. I will try to explain the conversion part today, but will post the video recipe on Sunday. So this post is a discussion on making sourdough breads from existing yeast bread recipes.
This post is definitely not for a beginner. If you have a sourdough starter going on, and have tried a few breads and want to take your sourdough baking to the next level, this would definitely help you. It is easy to get recipes for yeast based breads, but as for sourdough, most of the time, you come across artisan breads, Baguette, Ciabatta and such very technical breads. I have baked some artisan loaves, but other than that, I have not yet started exploring technical sourdough breads.
My daughter loves the thick crunchy crusted artisan loaves, but hubby is not a fan. he wants soft breads as he is so used to my regular yeast breads on a day to day basis and he doesn’t want to convert! So it was quite challenging for me to develop recipes which are extremely soft with sourdough. And also they happen to be very sour. So I have to avoid sourness and also give good softness in the bread. I did a lot of experiments with various recipes . It took nearly two months for me and I was baking daily with sourdough. I so loved that phase. I will list out a few points on how I came to do that.
- Usually sourdough recipes you see online have lots of proving time. The bulk fermentation is usually done for 12-16 hours (cold retard), which adds a lot of sourness. So I started doing the bulk fermentation at room temperature. As the place where I live in is so hot, it takes three to four hours to double.
- The amount of starter you use in recipe also decides how easily it will ferment. In recipes I make, I keep it 1:2, starter:flour as the ratio. It might look like too much starter, but to fasten the process, this is necessary. Sometime I even have 1:1, starter:flour.
- Adding milk and butter while preparing the dough will help with the soft texture of the breads. So enrich your dough and your breads will be so soft.
- Adding mashed potatoes/ tangzong will also help in getting softer breads.
- I also keep the second prove short. When the bread dough is one and a half times the volume after shaping, I take it to the oven. It takes one to two hours for that depending on the temperature. The oven spring is also amazing in this method.
And now coming to conversion part. I use a starter with 100% hydration. I use equal parts of flour and water to feed my starter. And in the morning, my first work is to mix 50 gm of starter to 50 gm of flour and 50 gm of water. So you get 150 gm of starter after feeding. If you divide the water and flour in this 150 gm of starter, it would be 75 gm of flour and 75 gm of water. You are going to use your basic mathematics here in converting.
Say a recipe has 225 gm of flour and 100 ml water. Now omit yeast in the recipe. Your starter has 75 gm of flour and 75 gm of water. We are going to deduct this from the original recipe. So final flour and water quantity after deduction would be 150 gm and 25 gm respectively. All the other ingredients like butter, sugar, salt, herbs or spices remain the same. Now you will be mixing 150 gm flour, 150 gm of starter, 25 gm of water and other ingredients. You have successfully substituted yeast with sourdough. And then you prepare the dough, knead it for 10 minutes or stretch and fold for two hours. Bulk ferment, shape, second prove and bake. That is it. You got a sourdough bread in your hands fresh out of oven.
This is very simple, right. You can convert all your favourite recipes to sourdough using this calculation. But this will be easy for you, only if you have already worked with sourdough, know about handling the dough, the time your dough needs to prove and all other technical details. That is why I haven’t explained any of it here. Hope this will help you with baking with sourdough successfully. Happy baking!