A New Twist on Classic Sourdough
I actually baked this recipe while I was in the Midwest twice and again today back in California. The new twist is using a mixed starter (AP/WW/Rye), which adds some texture to the loaf and a much different cold proofing process. This was produced a wonderful crust, moist interior and the most tangy, sourdough loaf I ever baked. This is the CA loaf (above); the Midwest loaf is at top.
I was pretty excited because I used an Emile Henry baker (below) for the first time a couple of weeks ago when I baked the loaf in the Midwest. It worked well.
In California, I use my LaCloche covered baker, which has had plenty of use!
The Midwest crumb came out well...
I'd say that this was the biggest loaf I have ever made. The California loaf was huge as well; it weighed in at 2 lbs. 9 oz. It lasts for some time, and my husband finished the entire Midwest loaf! It makes great toast as well.
The crumb on the California loaf was more open.
The bread made excellent sandwiches; I think mine was a bit messy. My husband has an engineering background, so his was much neater!
One of the things I changed considerably from the recipe was the proofing. I added an extended bulk fermentation in the refrigerator and an overnight cold proof vs. a room temp overnight proof from the original recipe. I've detailed the changes below.
It's a beautiful, but warm day in California today. Probably too warm for baking, but I started early this morning, so I was done with the bake before the temps started to move up.
Makes: One 2 pound loaf (or more as I saw today with the 2 lb 9 oz loaf).
Method adapted from: Classic Sourdoughs by Ed and Jean Wood.
I varied the recipe by using my active starter that was a 70/20/10 mix of AP flour, WW flour and dark rye at 100% hydration. The original recipe starter has no whole wheat or rye. I also changed to cold fermentation vs. room temperature.
- 230 grams (about 1 cup or 240 ml) active starter, 70/20/10 mix of AP, WW and Rye flours at 100% hydration
- 300 grams water (Approximately 1 1/2 cups or 360 ml water)
- 10 grams salt (about 2 teaspoons)
- 500 grams unbleached all-purpose flour (about 4 cups)
Mixing the dough. Pour the starter into a mixing bowl. Add the water and mix well. Add the flour a little bit at a time until it starts to stiffen. Hold back some flour to knead in a bit later. Let the mix autolyze for 30 minutes and then add then fold in the salt.
Kneading the dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead in some of the remaining flour if the dough is too sticky. Knead for about 10 minutes until it the dough is smooth and easy to handle.
Bulk fermentation. Lightly coat a glass bowl with olive oil and place the dough ball into the bowl, making sure that the top of the dough ball has a thin coat of oil. Cover and bulk ferment in the refrigerator for 24-72 hours. I did three bakes of this bread in the last several weeks, and I bulk fermented the first and last loaf for 72 hours, and both came out really great with a wonderful sourdough taste. The long fermentation period contributed to the strong sourdough taste. I actually think that 24 hours may not be enough for this recipe. The original recipe calls for it to proof at room temperature for 8-12 hours, so I made a major change here. Over this period in the refrigerator, the dough should about double in size.
Shaping and final proof. Use a spatula to ease the dough out onto a floured surface. Allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, shape it into a rough ball, cover it with a cloth, and let it rest again for 30 minutes. Now, shape the dough into a boule and place it seam-side up into a banneton coated in brown rice flour. Put in a clean plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.
Baking the loaf. The next morning, remove the loaf from the refrigerator and let it warm up before baking. You should be the judge of how long you need it to warm up. My loaf needed to pop up a bit, so I let it warm up for about an hour at room temperature as I preheated the oven. It will over-proof if you keep it out at room temperature too long. My experience is that this pops up in the oven quite nicely. As the original recipe calls for 8-12 hours of room temperature proofing, I did notice that this dough did need time to warm up and rise a bit at room temperature before baking. I used my covered baker, so I preheated it with the cover on at 500 degrees (260 degrees C). When the oven and baker are at temperature, remove the lid and pop the loaf into the bottom tray. Score it in the pattern you desire. I sprayed a light mist of water on the dough, trying to avoid the hot surface, as I was hoping for a really beautiful crust. Bake at 500 degrees with the lid on for 30 minutes, and then take the temperature down to 450 degrees and remove the lid for the final browning, which is another 10-15 minutes, depending on the type of crust you like. We tend to like a bolder crust, so I bake it a bit longer. Watch it closely during this phase. If you do not have a covered baker, you can use a baking stone or tray with parchment paper, but make sure you create steam by using your steaming apparatus or baking tray with boiling water from the start of the bake. Bake the loaf at about 480 (250 C) degrees for the first 25 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 435 for the next 15-20 minutes, depending on how bold you like the crust.
Cooling and slicing the loaf: Remove the loaf from the covered baker tray or stone and let cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.