I want to give you my spin on an Amish sourdough loaf using a regular sourdough starter (ie organic all-purpose flour), bread flour, and freshly milled grains. Realizing that not everyone has a grain mill or access to one so just know this recipe is very flexible and any whole wheat flour from the store will work with it. I wanted to create a loaf of bread that anyone could make and that honors my wonderful friend’s lifestyle.
There is nothing more wonderful than a delicious loaf of homemade bread. Some of the most popular and delicious bread recipes come from the Amish. I am lucky enough to be acquainted with people who live a very similar simple lifestyle that I find so admirable. Being as bread-obsessed as I am, I love to pick their brains about recipes and techniques for baking bread truly the old-fashioned way. Before commercial yeast, every bread recipe was a “sourdough recipe”. Before bread flour and all-purpose flour, freshly milled grains were what every bread dough, sweet bread, cookie, and pie consisted of.
Many of these true old Amish sourdough bread recipes include freshly milled flour while it seems the recipes online have mostly been adapted to just white all-purpose and bread flour. While I know freshly milled grains and whole wheat flour have typically been less accessible; their popularity in the past five years has exploded and people are looking to work them into every recipe they can.
Sourdough vs Active dry yeast
Some old-order Mennonite and Amish only use sourdough to leaven their recipes but some use dry active yeast. From many failed loaves of 100% freshly milled flour loaves I can see why they too have made the switch. But many true traditional Amish baking recipes use freshly milled grains and sourdough starter. Like Amish sourdough bread; Amish sourdough starter would also be 100% freshly milled flour.
For this recipe, you can use your own starter. The one I used for this recipe is fed with organic white flour. I do have a starter that is made and fed with only freshly milled grains but for this one, I stuck to my usual starter.
What you will need:
- Digital scale
- Large glass bowl
- An active bubbly sourdough starter
- Bread flour
Freshly milled hard red wheat flour (or whole wheat flour)
- Banneton basket
- Dutch Oven
- Your starter.
The type of sourdough starter you have makes a big difference. Different types of sourdough starters can be made depending on your flour. An original sourdough starter would have been 100% freshly milled flour. Some people use white flour, some freshly milled and some even use potato flakes! A traditional Amish recipe is 100% freshly milled flour but for the sake of making this recipe more universal, I am using my standard sourdough starter that is fed organic unbleached all-purpose flour.
The day before
Yes, the day before. Sourdough is not a quick bread. First, you will need to feed your starter. The best way to do this is equal parts starter, water, and flour 1-1-1 (ie 200g of starter + 200g of water + 200 grams flour) Some people prefer doing a 1-2-2 method instead (200g of starter, 400g of water, 400 grams of flour). Either way, I like my starter to be a bit thicker so a little extra dusting of flour gives me a great result. If you want to know what consistency I like my starter you can check that out CLICK HERE. Stir that up and let it get all happy and bubbly. To make this magic happen a little faster, placing your starter in a warm place will help things move along.
Sourdough Starter Peak
You have probably heard about the float test by now and I just want to cut you off there by saying that is not enough. The best time to use a starter is at its “Peak”. The peak happens when your starter has doubled in size but no longer has its doming effect and it is straight across the container and has little dimple forming. Not sinking; just dimpling. This is the best time to use your starter. Most times when we have a failed loaf on the first attempt it is a starter issue. Usually, your starter will hit its peak in 4-5 hours. If your room temperature is cooler it might take longer.
In a large bowl combine 650g of warm water (filtered if you are on city water) and 200g of starter. Next, add your dry ingredients; 700 grams of bread flour and 300 grams of freshly milled hard red wheat. Incase you do not have a grain mill any whole wheat flour you can find will work. If you do, grind 1-2 cups of hard red wheat berries on the fine setting. If you are interested in the grain mill I have you can check it out HERE. Add 20g of fine white sea salt. Using a wooden spoon or your hands combine all ingredients to create a “shaggy dough”. Let this rest for about 45 mins. Freshly milled grains tend to make fermentation a little quicker so if you are using store-bought whole wheat it might be an extra 15 mins.
Whatever sourdough starter is left over you can put it in a small bowl and use it for a yummy discard recipe. I love to have extra starter on hand for desserts and breakfast recipes! The most popular recipe in our house is my sourdough cheesecake brownies. Whatever remaining starter is in your glass container you can continue to feed for your next loaf of bread!
Stretch and Fold
Once that dough has relaxed you will want to do 3-6 “stretch and folds” 30-45 mins apart. This is exactly what it sounds like but taking four corners of the dough stretching it up and folding it back down to the center to create tension. You do not want to overwork the dough too much but three or four quick stretches and folds should give it perfect tension. When you are done your stretch and fold just put it back in a warm spot and come back once the dough has relaxed again.
Once your dough is ready after 3-6 stretches and folds, you can let it go on its “first rise”. This usually takes about 5 ish hours for the dough to rise. If your home is warm just keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t overferment. Once you see the dough rise almost double and has little bubbles forming, it is ready for shaping.
Shaping your loaf
Using wet hands to carefully scrape out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Be careful not to punch dough down. Using a dough cutter, cut the dough into two equal portions. Push the ball of dough forward on your work surface and in a spinning motion bring it back towards you again. Doing this creates tension on the work surface. Once you have nice loaves formed let the dough sit on the counter for 30 mins. This just helps create a little thicker skin for the dough to hold better shape before going on its second rise in the fridge. I give each ball one more spin before flipping them seam side up into a floured banneton basket. If you do not have a banneton basket a bowl with a floured tea towel will work too. Cover with plastic wrap or plastic bag and leave in the fridge for 12-14 hours. You can leave it longer if you like but no more than three days.
Baking & Scoring your loaf
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with your Dutch oven inside for one hour. Once the one-hour mark is over you can take your bread out of the fridge. Take out a piece of parchment paper big enough for your loaf and flip the dough out of the banneton basket. You can lightly dust the top of your bread with flour and with a breadlame score the bread 1/2 inch deep across. Now you can get creative and make designs in your bread! This is an easy way to make your bread into something beautiful. Transfer your loaf to your dutch oven with your parchment paper. add 1/4 cup of water under the parchment paper to create steam to help your bread have a beautiful crispy golden brown crust.
Bake for 30 mins at 500 with lid on. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and lower the heat to 450 for 25-30 mins. If you find that the ear of your bread is burning feel free to add a piece of tin foil across the loaf to prevent the top from getting too toasty. Internal temp should read 210 when finished. I hope you enjoy this recipe and enjoy your loaf of Amish sourdough bread!
Wait until cool to cut.
Amish Sourdough Bread
- 1 Digital scale
- 1 Dutch Oven
- 1 Parchement paper
- 1 Grain Mill (optinal)
- 200 grams Sourdough Starter Active and bubbly
- 650 grams Filtered Water
- 700 grams Bread Flour
- 300 grams Freshly Milled Hard Red Wheat (or whole wheat flour)
- 20 grams Fine Sea Salt
- Mix sourdough starter and warm water in a large bowl.
- Add flour and salt. Knead with a wooden spoon or hands until the dough becomes shaggy.
- Let rest for 45 minutes in a warm spot.
- Every 45 mins do a stretch and fold 3-6 times.
- Let rise on counter until doubled in size.
- Gently remove from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into two loaves. Shape and place it on the counter for 30 mins. Place upside down in a floured banneton basket, cover with a plastic bag and place in the fridge for 12-14 hours.
- Preheat Oven to 500 with dutch oven inside for one hour.
- Remove the loaf from the fridge and place it on parchment paper. Dust top with flour and score loaf and place in a hot dutch oven with parchment paper. add 1/4 of water under the parchment paper to help create steam. Place lid on top and bake at 500 for 30 mins. Remove lid and lower temp to 450 and bake for an additional 25 mins. Allow to cool before cutting.