Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Santa’s Sourdough Bread Secrets
Making your own sourdough bread does take a while, but the amount of actual work is minimal--and the bread you'll get is spectacular! Here is Santa’s recipe to make your own starter, and a basic bread recipe.
Virtually any bread you can make with regular dough, you can do with sourdough, like the pizza shown below. Santa 365 even makes sourdough cinnamon rolls and pancakes using sourdough starter.
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Sourdough Starter Recipe
700 grams bread flour
700 grams of filtered water, divided
Day 1: Mix 70 grams of flour and 70 grams of water together in a container with a lid. The container needs to be large enough to accommodate another 70 grams of water and flour. Cover loosely so gases can escape. Leave for 24 hours at 70 degrees F.
Day 2: Add 70 grams of flour and 70 grams of water. Stir. Cover loosely and leave for 24 hours at 70 degrees.
Day 3: Remove half (140 grams) of the starter. Add 70 grams of flour and 70 grams of water. Stir. Cover loosely and leave for 24 hours at 70 degrees.
Step 4: through about Day 10: Repeat Step 3 each day until the starter smells fruity, yeasty, and is beautifully fermented. You can test this by seeing if the mixture doubles within 2 to 3 hours of feeding.
Step 5: Refrigerate until needed. Most people recommend you feed the starter once a month or so (Step 3).
Step 6: To make bread using a refrigerated starter: feed it at room temperature for two days. Use your refreshed starter to make bread on the third day. Remember to set aside 140 grams of starter and feed it again before returning it to the fridge.
Santa's Sourdough Notes: Santa finds that measuring ingredients by weight is best for baking applications. The exact number of grams seen here doesn't really matter, as long as you're using exactly the same ratio of flour and water, by weight.
I use gram weights for flour and water to ensure I'm using exactly the same amount for each. 700 grams of flour equals about 5 1/2 cups; 70 grams is a scant 1/2 cup. But I do recommend using a kitchen scale to measure grams.
For best results, use bottled or filtered water; chlorine can kill the yeast/bacteria. You can also use boiled, cooled water. Santa has a specialized machine that produces various pH water. If you have similar, a pH of 6 or less is preferred (but not 100% essential).
You can use different kinds of flour. I like half spelt and half bread flour, but this recipe will work with pretty much any combination, including all wheat flour.
Sourdough Bread Recipe
100 grams sourdough starter
250 grams of water
8 grams kosher salt
394 grams bread flour
rice flour for bread form
1 10-inch banneton — proofing wood basket
Step 1: Measure out the starter into a bowl. Add water, salt, and bread flour. Mix until ingredients are well blended into a very sticky dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest 4 hours at 70 to 75 degrees F
Step 2: With wet hands, fold the dough over on itself 3 or 4 times. Cover with foil and allow the dough to ferment for 2 more hours.
Step 3: Generously dust a bread form with rice flour (see Chef's Note for banneton substitution).
Step 4: Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface (you can use bread flour or all-purpose flour). Shape into a ball with a smooth, unbroken surface, using just enough flour on the surface to keep it from sticking. Transfer smooth-side down to banneton. Pinch together the rougher edges of the surface toward the center to smooth them and maintain the round ball shape.
Step 5: Cover and refrigerate 12 hours to slow the fermentation process.
Step 6: Remove the loaf from the refrigerator and let it rise in a warm spot until the dough springs slowly back and retains a slight indentation when poked gently with a finger, about 3 to 5 hours.
Step 7: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Step 8: Dust the surface of the dough with flour. Gently invert banneton over the baking sheet and transfer dough onto parchment paper. Gently brush off excess rice flour. Score the top of the dough about 1/8-inch deep with a sharp knife to create a shallow slit running across the center. Mist the entire surface lightly with water.
Step 9: Bake in the center of preheated oven until beautifully browned, 25 to 30 minutes.
Step 10: Transfer to a rack to cool completely (do not slice loaf while it is still warm).
If you don't have a banneton, you can simply line a similarly sized bowl with a tightly woven cotton kitchen towel and generously coat it with rice flour. I've done that before, and it works exactly the same. The only difference is the wooden basket "breathes," unlike a metal bowl, but I don't think that's a huge deal.
Feeding and Maintaining Your Sourdough Starter
Once you've successfully created your own sourdough starter, you'll need to feed it regularly. If you bake a lot of sourdough treats, you may want to keep it on your counter, at room temperature. While this means feeding it twice a day, it also means your starter will be ready to bake when you are. If you're a more casual sourdough baker, store your starter in the refrigerator, feeding it just once a week.
To store your starter at room temperature: Stir the starter well and discard all but 4 ounces (1/2 cup). Add the water and flour. Mix until smooth, and cover. Repeat every 12 hours. Remove 1 cup starter to bake with when it's expanded and bubbly, then feed the remaining starter immediately; revert to your normal 12-hour schedule for subsequent feedings.
To store your starter in the refrigerator: Take the starter out of the fridge. There may be a bit of light amber or clear liquid on top. Either drain this off or stir it in, your choice; it's simply a byproduct from the fermenting yeast.
Remove all but 4 ounces (1/2 cup) starter; see "tips," at left, for ideas on what to do with it. Add the flour and lukewarm water to the remaining starter. Mix until smooth, and cover.
Allow the starter to rest at room temperature (about 70°F) for at least 2 hours; this gives the yeast a chance to warm up and get feeding. After about 2 hours, refrigerate. Perfect your technique
To ready your refrigerated starter for baking: Take the starter out of the fridge, discard all but 4 ounces (1/2 cup), and feed it as usual. Let it rest at room temperature for about 12 hours, until bubbly. Repeat as necessary, every 12 hours, until you notice the starter doubling or tripling in volume in 6 to 8 hours. That means it's strong enough to leaven bread.
For the final feeding prior to baking, add enough flour and water to use in your recipe, with a little leftover to feed and maintain the starter for the next time you bake. For instance, if your recipe calls for 1 cup (about 8 ounces) starter, add 4 ounces each water and flour. If your recipe calls for 2 cups (about 16 ounces) starter, add 8 ounces each water and flour.
Once the starter is bubbling and vigorous, remove what you need for the recipe and set it aside. Feed the remaining starter as usual. Mix until smooth, and allow the starter to work for about 2 hours at room temperature before putting it back in the refrigerator.