The process I follow makes it really easy for me, and hopefully you may find that too.
You can absolutely prepare and bake your sourdough in one day, but I prefer to spread it over two to three days. Firstly, this means I have more freedom to get on with other commitments in my life, without having to worry about what is happening to my starter, or trying to manage baking loaves around dinner time when I might need the oven for other things.
In following my process, I like knowing that I don’t need to do anything before 8am on the day I plan to make my dough (if you wish to bake that day you need to do this earlier), and that I am free until around noon before I need to check my starter to see if it has doubled in size.
Once it has doubled, I prepare my dough, so usually by early afternoon I am done and dusted for “Day 1” of my process. Easy peasy.
Then around 8am the next day, or the day after, I take my bags of dough out of the fridge and let them sit on the bench for up to three hours (you only need to do this for an hour, but I found leaving them longer I get a much better rise in the oven).
Around 11’ish, I stretch and fold the dough into the tins, put them aside into their containers to rise, then bake usually around mid to late afternoon, again meaning I am not baking at dinner time when I may wish to use the oven.
If you were to do the whole process in one day, you would have to be up much earlier, and will be baking much later. You also don’t have the advantage of the extra fermentation time that the dough will benefit from (and your tummies) by spending a longer period in the fridge. You also miss out on the extra flavour profile that you would get from that resting time.
If you do decide to do the process in one day, then at the end of the Step 4 (which is the end of Day 1), then you will need the dough to sit on the bench for at least 2 to 3 hours before moving onto Step 5.
I have posted this process on the “recipe template” so that you can print it off if you feel it will be useful to you to refer to.
- STEP 1: ACTIVATE YOUR STARTER: Allow 4 to 8 hours depending on weather, in warmer months it will be quicker, in cooler months it will be longer
- STEP 2: USE YOUR STARTER: This is where you add your starter to the flour and water to make your dough, you then rest your dough for 20 minutes and whilst that is happening you can do the next step
- STEP 3: FEED YOUR STARTER: You now feed the starter that is remaining in your container so that it can go back into the fridge until next time
- STEP 4: FINAL KNEAD: Knead for 1 minute, then place dough into a greased bag and put into fridge … use within the next two days)
- STEP 5: STRETCH AND FOLD DOUGH: Once the dough has been removed from the fridge and allowed to come to room temperature - this usually takes an hour but I leave it for 3 hours – you stretch and fold the dough to activate the gluten
- STEP 6: SHAPE THE DOUGH: After you stretch and fold the dough you shape the dough for your tin or Banneton
- STEP 7: RISING THE DOUGH: Allow 4 to 8 hours for this - once the dough is in the tin or Banneton it needs to rise again, timing will depend on the day but I find that by allowing the dough to sit for 3 hours before stretching and folding it rises faster in the tin, and gives me a bigger rise in the oven
- STEP 8: SPRAY AND BAKE: You are finally ready to bake … so when the crest of the dough has risen to just past the rim of the tin you are ready to bake … for a Banneton you are looking for the dough to have doubled in size