One of the first tips in on which my brother David clued me when I started baking bread was to keep a store of sourdough starter food on hand. He recommended a blend of 70% AP flour, 20% whole wheat flour and 10% whole rye flour. I adopted that blend and that’s what my starter has thrived on for these 18 months. I also like the convenience of mixing up 300 or 400 grams of the blend at a time and keeping it in a jar, so starter feeding takes just a couple minutes.
As I’ve been playing with flour combinations for my pain de campagne, I’ve come to enjoy the flavor of blends with about 70% to 80% white flour and the rest a combination of rye and whole wheat. This week, it struck me that I’d never made a bread with the same blend as I use for starter food. So I made a batch of 70/20/10 sourdough pain de campagne.
I basically used the same technique as for my “San Francisco Country Sourdough”, except, seeking sourness, I used a higher percentage of pre-fermented flour and a longer fermentation for the levain. This formula uses a two-stage levain build, with the second stage levain retarded in the fridge, and has 40% pre-fermented flour.
So here’s how I figgered it:
Formula (in grams) Yields approximately 1600 grams of dough
1st Levain Build
2nd Levain Build
40 (50% hydr)
Step 1: Mix up 1000 grams of flour blend: 700 grams of AP, 200 grams of whole wheat and 100 grams of whole rye.
Step 2: One evening (two days before baking, so this should be a Thursday or Friday evening if you need a weekend day for the main labor), take 40 grams of your seed starter and dissolve it in 145 grams of cold water (mine was 44 F). Then mix in 145 grams of the flour blend. (My seed starter is at 50% hydration, but if yours is different, you can adjust the water to approximate the same hydration in the first build). Cover and leave at room temperature over night.
Step 3: Next morning (12 hours for me), dissolve the nice bubbly levain in 217 grams of cool water (mine was 74 F). Then mix in 217 grams of the flour blend. Cover and leave at room temperature for 8 to 10 hours until nice and bubbly. Refrigerate the levain over night.
Step 4: Next morning, pull the levain out of the fridge and let it warm up for 30 to 60 minutes. Dissolve the levain in 278 grams of warm water (mine was 85 F) . Then mix in 544 grams of the flour blend to a shaggy mass. Let it autolyse for 45 to 60 minutes. Mix in 17 grams of sea salt. I massaged the salt in by hand for about 3 or 4 minutes. I’d call it moderately short of moderate development.
Step 5: Primary ferment for 4 or so hours. Stretch and fold the dough, just 4 or 5 turns each time, at approximately one hour intervals. I did the first two S&Fs in the bowl and the third on a lightly floured board. After 4 hours, my dough had increased in size maybe 30 % or so and seemed pretty airy. In retrospect, it could have gone another hour.
Step 6: Divide the dough into two and pre-shape as boules. Let the dough balls rest 30 to 45 minutes.
Step 7: Shape the loaves as boules or batards and place in floured bannetons. Cover the bannetons with a damp towel or place them in sealed plastic bags. Proof at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours. [ALTERNATIVE: After proofing, place covered bannetons in fridge over night.] I baked one without overnight retardation and one with. The “same-day” loaf proofed for just under 2 hours. It passed the poke test, but another 30 minutes would have improved the openness of the crumb. The second (retarded) loaf warmed at room temperature for about 2 1/2 hours before going in the oven.
Step 7 ½: Preheat oven with baking stone and steaming apparatus to 500 F enough in advance so your stone is very well heated. I use a combination of a 10 inch cast iron pan with lava rocks and Sylvia’s magic steam towels.
Step 8: When loaves are fully proofed, slash and put in oven. As soon as the oven returns to 500 F, turn it down to 450 F. Bake 15 minutes with steam, then an additional 20-25 minutes without steam. Rotate the loaves if necessary for even browning. For the retarded loaf, I also sprayed the oven walls with water after about 8 minutes. I baked the retarded loaf a little hotter, leaving the oven at 500 for about 8 minutes.
Step 9: When the loaves are fully baked (205+ F internal temperature and dark crust), turn off the oven and leave the loaves on the stone with the oven door ajar for 10 minutes.
Step 10: Cool the loaves on a rack for at least an hour.
Both of the loaves have a very crispy dark crust and a moist, medium-chewy crumb. Neither loaf got great oven spring, but the crumb was airy, if not real open with big irregular holes. The retarded loaf has a more open crumb and a darker crust. Both have a nice sour tang. The retarded loaf is distinctly sourer, very much what I was going for.
One of you baking chemists could probably tell me what the heck I did right.
I think one of the next experiments will be to put more (or all) of the rye flour in the levain, per David’s suggestion.
This was a successful experiment and will lead to further refinements. It could be favorite if it didn’t involve a four-day process.
Submitted to YeastSpotting