My San Francisco Sourdough Quest, Take 4
I almost decided not to bake this past weekend, but I activated some starter, thinking I might make some sourdough pancakes for breakfast Sunday. But, then, there was this starter, and I thought maybe I'd bake something or other. Well, I might as well have some fresh-baked bread for Sunday dinner, and it had been a while since I'd given a loaf to my next door neighbor who really appreciates my breads. I guessed I'd make some San Francisco-style sourdough to share.
I didn't want to be completely tied to the time-demands of my dough, so I relaxed the rigorous procedures with which I had been working to accommodate the other things I wanted to do. I expected the bread to be “good” but maybe not quite as good as last week's bake.
To my surprise and delight, the bread turned out to be the best San Francisco-style sourdough I had ever baked. So I am documenting what I did and hope it's reproducible. And I'm sharing it with you all. The modifications in my procedures were determined by convenience of the moment. This was sort of “a shot in the dark that hit the bullseye.”
So, here are the formula and procedures for this bake:
I started with my stock refrigerated 50% starter that had been fed last weekend. This feeding consisted of 50 g active starter, 100 g water and 200 g starter feeding mix. My starter feeding mix is 70% AP, 20% WW and 10% whole rye flour.
I activated the starter with a feeding of 40 g stock starter, 100 g water and 100 g starter feeding mix. This was fermented at room temperature for 16 hours, then refrigerated for about 20 hours. I then mixed the stiff levain.
for 1 kg
for 2 kg
Medium rye flour
Dissolve the starter in the water. Add the flour and mix thoroughly until the flour has been completely incorporated and moistened.
Ferment at room temperature for 16 hours.
for 1 kg
for 2 kg
In a stand mixer, mix the flour and water at low speed until it forms a shaggy mass.
Cover and autolyse for 120 minutes
Add the salt and levain and mix at low speed for 1-2 minutes, then increase the speed to medium (Speed 2 in a KitchenAid) and mix for 5 minutes. Add flour and water as needed. The dough should be rather slack. It should clean the sides of the bowl but not the bottom.
Transfer to a lightly floured board and do a stretch and fold and form a ball.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly.
Ferment at 76º F for 31/2 to 4 hours with a stretch and fold at 50 and 100 minutes.
Divide the dough into three equal pieces. (Note: I had made 2 kg of dough.)
Pre-shape as rounds and rest, covered, for 10 minutes.
Shape as boules or bâtards and place in bannetons. Place bannetons in plastic bags.
Proof at room temperature (68-70º F) for 1-2 hours.
Cold retard the loaves overnight.
The next morning, proof the loaves at 85º F for 3 hours. (If you can't create a moist, 85 degree F environment, at least try to create one warmer than “room temperature.” For this bake, I took two loaves out of the fridge and started proofing them. I took the third loaf out about an hour later and stacked it balanced on top of the other two. I did one bake with the first two loaves and a second bake with the third loaf.)
45-60 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 480º F with a baking stone and steaming apparatus in place.
Transfer the loaves to a peel. Score the loaves as desired, turn down the oven to 460º F, steam the oven, and transfer the loaves to the baking stone.
After 15 minutes, remove the steaming apparatus, and turn down the oven to 435º F/Convection. (If you don't have a convection oven, leave the temperature at 460º F.)
Bake for another 15 minutes.
Turn off the oven, and leave the loaves on the stone, with the oven door ajar, for another 15 minutes.
Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack, and cool thoroughly before slicing.
Note: Because these loaves were smaller than those baked in “Take 3,” the oven temperature was hotter , and the baking time was shorter. I also wanted a slightly darker crust, which this modification accomplished.
The crust was thick and very crunchy but not “hard.” The crumb was more open than my last bake. The crust had a sweet, nutty flavor. The crumb had sweetness with a definite whole grain wheat overtone and a more pronounced acetic acid tang. It had a wonderful cool mouth feel and was a bit more tender than the last bake.
This bread was close in flavor and texture to the best tasting bread I've ever had which was a half kilo of pain de campagne cut from an absolutely huge miche in Les Eyzies, France some 15 years ago. It's a taste I've never forgotten and often wished I could reproduce.
I need to make me a miche like this!
Submitted to YeastSpotting