This was one of the first sourdough recipes I tried when starting out last spring - and I failed royally with it, ending up with blown-out wonky loaves with flying crusts and a kitchen smeared in sticky dough. Admittedly I was a relative newcomer to baking bread and made every possible newbie mistake with it.
Wanting a change from the last few loaves of pain sur poolish, my baking supervisors - Poppy and Lexi - suggested I take the plunge and give this a whirl again. But this time, I've taken a lot of advice, lessons and feline displeasure on board.
I used 600g of flour, 400g of water, 200g of levain and 2% salt. The main differences from my previous attempts other than adding lard (5%) was 1) to add 40g (6.67%) of rolled porridge oats as opposed to reducing the water to take into account using UK flour and 2) baking the bread under a cloche - in this case, my trusty chicken brick, something I wasn't using back then.
50g rye starter @ 100% hydration
75g wholemeal bread flour
75g tepid water
All of the levain plus the following...
100g whole rye flour
500g strong white bread flour
400g tepid water
40g porridge oats
Morning 1 - take starter out of the fridge, let it come to room temp and then feed. Leave it to double and begin to fall back.
Evening 1 - remove 50g of starter and use to build levain. Cover and leave for 12 hours. It should be nice and bubbly come the morning.
Morning 2 - build the dough. Mix flour, salt and oats together and rub in the lard. Make a well in the mix and add in the levain and most of the water. Bring together with fingers and begin to knead. Add rest of the water. Knead (I do this by hand in a large mixing bowl) for around 15 minutes until dough begins to resist. Cover bowl and leave to bulk ferment at room temperature - around 6 hours, give or take. Incorporate three sets of stretch & folds during this time.
Afternoon 2 - when dough has more or less doubled, turn out onto well-floured board, knock back and shape. At this point, put oven on to preheat to 230C. Place shaped dough seam side up into floured banneton, put in a plastic freezer bag and leave to proof to around 85%. At room temp (around 18C) this will take about an hour.
Turn out the dough into the chicken brick and score. Place lid on the brick, put into the oven and bake for 25 mins with the lid on. Remove the lid, lower the oven temperature to 200C and bake for a further 25 mins. Leave till cold before cutting - about 3 hours - but best left overnight.
A really nice-looking loaf of bread that sprung and bloomed well in the oven - a couple of minor cracks, but no blow outs or wonky bits. A major relief, that, after my previous calamities... Crust thin and crunchy with a good nutty flavour. Crumb a little more open than what I usually turn out, but unsurprising considering it's a higher hydration than what I normally work with. Not a bad thing, just a pleasant surprise. Crumb was also a little on the glossy side, springy, moist and a little chewy. Flavourwise it was mild and creamy with just a wee hint of sour. Overall, a does-it-all bread that's equally at home with sweet and savoury toppings, but it was especially good with pate and with homemade tandoori chicken. Even a little on the stale side it's still very nice - it just need to be sliced very thinly :-)
I think Poppy and Lexi were secretly impressed - or at least that's what I hope. Those two can be so inscrutable at times... The bread passed the PUT (Parental Unit Test) as well, resulting in a request for more of this kind of bread.
There's definitely room to play with in terms of the flour combinations etc. I've managed two consistent loaves with this particular combination, so for the bake that's in the oven as we speak I used all rye for the levain, and a mix of 400g white bread flour, 100g of whole rye flour and 100g of oat flour. Fingers crossed...
Was nice to take a break today and bake bread instead of sawing logs. There's not so much of that downed spruce left now, although I've discovered that the sawdust is hellaciously sticky... It sticks to me, the cats and just about everything it comes into contact with. On the other hand, it *does* smell nice LOL. We're heading for a bit of a cold snap here, so the girls have taken the best warm spots in the house - Poppy in front of the fire and Lexi in her favourite cardboard box next to the radiator in the hallway. Can't say I blame them really.