Sourdough Bread from SFBI Artisan II
Sourdough Bread made with Liquid Levain fed twice a day
from the SFBI Artisan II Workshop
Probably the key experience provided in the SFBI Artisan II workshop on sourdough baking was baking a series of breads with liquid versus firm starters, starters fed either once or twice a day and breads with different proportions of starter. Each variation produced breads with noticeably different flavor profiles.
Our instructor made it quite clear that he and his colleagues at the SFBI had a clear consensus that the best-tasting bread was produced using a liquid levain fed twice a day and with the liquid levain constituting 40-50% (baker's percentage) of the final dough. The dough had an overall hydration of 68%.
The characteristics of bread made in this manner were a very mild sourdough tang with a predominance of the “milky” sourness provided by lactic acid but a dominance of sweet, wheaty flavor over acidity.
It has been quite a while since I have made bread using this formula, although I did like it a lot. I made it again this weekend. I have made some minor modifications in the procedures prescribed by the SFBI. Note: Apparent discrepancies in the ingredient weights are due to scaling down from the original formula for a much larger dough batch and rounding.
Total Dough Formula
Instant yeast (optional)
Note: for the starter feedings, including the levain mix, I actually used my usual starter feeding mix of 70% AP, 20% WW and 10% Rye. So, in the levain, rather than the AP and Rye specified in the SFBI formula, I used 107 g of the above mix.
Mix ingredients thoroughly.
Ferment 12 hours at room temperature. (Note: Because of my own scheduling needs, I refrigerated the levain overnight before mixing the final dough. This was not the procedure at the SFBI, and it would be expected to make the bread somewhat more sour. If you can, omit this levain retardation.)
Instant yeast (optional)
Mix all ingredients except the salt (and the yeast, if you are using it) to a shaggy mass.
Let rest, covered, for 20-60 minutes.
Add the salt (and yeast, if you are using it) and mix at Speed 2 for 5-6 minutes. Adjust flour or water to achieve a medium consistency. (Note: I did not use added instant yeast.)
Ferment for 2-3 hours at 76ºF with 1 or 2 folds, as needed to strengthen the dough. (Note: The fermentation time depends on whether you use the instant yeast and on your fermentation temperature. As usual, “Watch the dough, not the clock.” The dough should end up expanded by about 20% and should be somewhat light and gassy. If you ferment in a transparent container, your should see the dough to be well-populated with tiny bubbles.)
Divide the dough into two equal pieces and pre-shape as boules.
Let the pieces rest, covered, for 25-30 minutes.
Shape as boules or bâtards.
Proof for 90-120 minutes at 80ºF.
Bake at 450ºF with steam for 25 minutes.
Leave in the turned-off oven with the door ajar for another 10 minutes.
Cool thoroughly on a rack before slicing.
The crust softened as the bread cooled. I think this was mostly because I adjusted the dough consistency by adding a little water. This made for a more open crumb but a less crunchy crust. The aroma of the cut loaf was very nice with a noticeable acetic acid aroma. However the flavor, while more tangy than this bread is meant to be, was still only mildly sour. Otherwise, it had the delicious sweet-wheaty flavor I remember.
This bread was lovely. I am happy with the results I got, but it merits another bake following the SFBI formula and procedures without my modifications.