The Fresh Loaf

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sourdough recipe

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sortachef's picture
sortachef

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a few sourdough starters lurking in your fridge. One I made from organic California grapes lovingly teased into fruition over 10 days some years ago. Another from rye flour that naturally ferments. And last fall’s brainchild, made from mountain berries plucked at 3600 feet. That last one yielded 6 lovely loaves and then promptly went into a funk.

But I’m going to be honest here: I don’t use any of my starters in this recipe. Every one of those starters is finicky and unpredictable at best, and when it comes to making bread, reliability is the key. So I’ve come up with a method that yields great sourdough loaves in a 3-day process. Very little attention is necessary until the third day, and the results are amazing. If you don’t have a woodfired oven, instructions on baking in a conventional oven are included as well. Go on, relax and make some sourdough!

 

Woodfired Sourdough Bread

 

Make 3 loaves, 23 ounces each

 

For the Starter:

2/3 cup rye flour

2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup cold water

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Mix these together in a large bread bowl with the handle of a wooden spoon, scraping the sides clean as you go. Cover with a clean dish cloth or a loose-fitting lid and let rise in a cool place (55-60° environment) for 12-14 hours until frothy. I do this step in the early evening and let it go overnight.

 

First replenishment:

½ cup rye flour

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3/8 cup cold water

Add these to your starter to ‘feed’ it in the morning. Scrape the sides again, put on a loose-fitting lid or a piece of plastic wrap and let it sit in a cool place for another 10-12 hours.

 

Second replenishment:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup cold water

Feed the starter again, this time with wheat flour only. Let sit covered in a cool place for 10 hours or overnight.

 

Make the dough:  By morning, the starter should be bubbly and somewhat risen. It will also smell sour, which is the smell of active lactobacillus fermenting in the mix. This is good. Now add to the starter

2 cups of water at 105°

½ teaspoon of active dry yeast

4 cups of unbleached white bread flour (I use Pendleton Mills ‘Morbread’ with 12% gluten)

3 teaspoons of salt

2 Tablespoons of flaxseed meal (optional)

Mix the dough well, scraping the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the ingredients, and then knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface. Return the dough to a clean bread bowl, cover and let rise for 5 hours at room temperature (68-70°).

Deflate the dough, turning it over as best you can and leave to rest for a further 1 to 1½ hours before shaping into loaves.

For Baking in a Woodfired Oven: For best results, bake this bread in an oven that has been heated for 2½ hours by a medium-sized active fire. In the last hour, move the fire from side to side to allow even heating of the floor tiles. After this time, move the active but non-flaming coals to the back, throw on a fistful of hardwood twigs and sweep the floor clean of ashes. Once the twigs have finished burning, you’re ready to bake the bread.

For Baking in a conventional oven: Line the center rack with quarry tiles or a pizza stone and preheat at 450° for at least half an hour. When the loaves are ready for baking, drop the heat to 400°.

Form the loaves / final rise: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. (note: if using a conventional oven, you can only bake 2 at a time; put one of the pieces back into the bread bowl for another hour.) Form a ball with each piece by stretching the longest skin of dough across the surface and tucking it underneath.

Line 3 baskets with cloth napkins or dish cloths, and sprinkle generously with flour. Plop the dough balls into these, toss on a bit more flour, cover with the corners of the cloth and let rise for 1¼ hours in a warm place.

Once risen, turn the unbaked loaves onto either a wooden peel or the back of a cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Brush loaves lightly with an eggwhite mixed with 1 Tablespoon of water and slash as desired.

For Baking in a Woodfired Oven: Slip the unbaked loaves into the oven in a semi-circle about 12” away from the coals. Close the door all the way and bake for 1 hour, turning several times to bake evenly. Loaves are ready when the crust is medium brown.

For Baking in a conventional oven: Slip loaves 2 at a time directly onto the tiles or pizza stone. Bake for 20 minutes at 400°, lower the heat to 350°, and bake for another 40 minutes, turning the loaves as necessary to ensure even baking. Loaves are ready when the crust is medium brown.

See original publication and more photos at http://www.woodfiredkitchen.com/?p=2289

Copyright 2011 by Don Hogeland 

Susan's picture
Susan

A pretty loaf; more fluffy crumb and less sour than my Ultimate loaf, well-risen, excellent thinner crispy crust.  I suspect retarding overnight would increase the sour somewhat. 

60 grams 100% starter
180g water
300g high-gluten flour
6g salt

Mix starter and water, add flour and salt.  Mix until rough.  Cover and rest 10 minutes.  Fold from bottom to top around tub.  Cover and ferment until doubled (~7 hours@lower 70'sF).  Stretch and fold.  Let relax.  Shape and put in linen-lined colander until floured finger leaves an indentation (~2.5 hours).  Place in 530F oven, covered, for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 430F.  Remove cover at 20 minutes.  Continue baking for 12-15 minutes.  Turn off oven and leave for 10 minutes.  Cool on rack. 





Susan's picture
Susan

High-Gluten Spring Wheat flour is what I use for all my sourdoughs, Shannon, and using it tends to make a stretchier, chewier loaf, which is what I want.  H-G flour is a step higher in protein than bread flour.  Don't know if you are making sourdough, but if so, here's a simple recipe:


50g starter


210g water


300g High-Gluten Flour


6g salt


Mix the starter and water in a small plastic tub,* add flour and salt, mix until rough.  Cover and let sit 10 minutes.   Using a wooden spoon, fold the dough from bottom to top around the tub.  Cover and let rise until the dough has doubled in volume.  At this point, turn it out on your oil-sprayed counter and envelope-fold it.  Fold it two or three times, letting it relax between foldings.  Each time you fold, it will become easier to handle and will hold its shape better.  Now, shape the dough and leave it to rise either on the counter with parchment underneath or in a banneton (or linen-lined colander or bowl).  When you can poke your floured finger into the dough and the imprint stays, it's time to bake.  Pre-heat the oven to 500F, then turn it down to 460F after you load the bread.  There are several options for steaming bread.  My fav is covering the bread for the first 20 minutes with a stainless-steel bowl.  Total time in the oven will be about 30 minutes.  Let the bread brown as much as it can without burning.  Don't cut the loaf until it has cooled. 


*If you use a small tub (such as a 2-lb yogurt tub, which is what I often use), the dough will half-fill it, and when it doubles, the tub will be full!  Cool, eh?


Remember to have fun.


Susan from San Diego


The below loaf has 25g rye flour substituted for 25g of the HG flour:


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