The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Low and slow sourdough bread...

Wartface's picture

Low and slow sourdough bread...

My no rush loaf of sourdough bread...




600g flour = 100%

420g water = 70%

   12g salt = 2%



300g bread flour

300g water

1 teaspoon of my sourdough starter


I mixed that together with my danish bread whisk, sealed the top of my fermentation vessel with a shower cap and let it sit on my counter top at room temperature, 70°, for 18 hours until the it had doubled in mass. 


The final dough:

All of the preferment 

300g bread flour

120g water

  12g salt (added after the 30 minute autolyse)


I mixed it all together with the danish whisk to a shaggy mass and then covered the vessel and let it autolyse for 30 minutes. Then I took the dough out of the vessel, sprinkled the salt over the dough and did 8 minutes of slap and folds until I got a good window pane test.


Back into the fermentation vessel it goes for the bulk fermentation step with me doing stretch and folds every 30 minutes for 2 hours. The dough doubled in mass in 4 hours.


I removed the dough from the fermentation vessel and patted it down lightly to redistribute the big pockets of Co2 gas that coagulates into some areas of the dough during that long bulk fermentation process and preshaping the dough into a boule shape. I let it bench rest for 20 minutes to let the gluten structure relax and get ready for a more aggressive final shaping step. I like getting lots of tension on the doughs outer membrane to prepare it to get maximum ovenspring during the baking process. 


After final shaping I loaded my banneton with a generous portion of rice flour and then put my dough in it seam side up. I diligently sealed of that bottom seam so my dough would maintain its shape during the final proofing stage. I covered my banneton with a shower cap and let it sit on the counter top at 70°F until I went to bed 3 hours later. At that point my final proofing was only about 50% done. 


I put the banneton in the fridge overnight or about 12 hours. There was no rise in that time period because yeast goes to sleep, dormant, in under 40°F temperatures. However... the enzymes in your starter are not effected by the cold weather like the yeast is and it keeps eating starch and protein to continue manufacturing sugar and alcohol, to give your bread a more complex flavor profile.👅


This morning after taking my hound dog for his 5 mile trot next to my electric bike and a short stop at the local coffee shop, Javaman, I came home and removed my dough from the fridge to reactive the yeast and let my final proofing step continue. I determine when my final proofing step is nearly done by watching how much it has increased in size from when I originally put it into the banneton. As soon as it has risen to 1.5 times that size I start doing the poke test. But I started preheating my oven and Dutch Oven before it doubled in mass. I’ve kind of developed a feel for when to start preheating the stove based on watching the dough increase in size in the banneton. However... if my dough passes the poke test earlier than the preheating is done... it goes into the DO early. I’m not going to over proof my dough waiting on my oven and DO to get hot.


After about 3 hours of final proofing it passed the poke test. I dumped the dough onto a piece of parchment paper. I used a silicone basting brush to dust ALL of the rice flour off that was attached to the dough from in the banneton. Then when the rice flour was all gone I dipped that brush into a small glass of water and literally painted the dough with water, 2 layers, to create blisters on the crust. Then I scored my dough with a razor blade stuck on a long coffee stir stick I get at Javaman.👍


I removed the DO from the oven and used the parchment paper as a sling to mount it. I put a couple of ice cubes under the parchment paper, put the lid on the DO and back in the oven it goes, at 500°F. I let it steam with the lid on for 20 minutes and then remove the lid, turn the temperature down to 450° and let the dough caramelize/brown to exactly the color I prefer. I want my ear to be slightly burnt but not black.👌 I like my bread to be darker than you see in grocery stores and most bakeries. I give no, zero, zilch consideration about the crumb being over cooked to get my crust brown and crispy - that’s never been an issue even if my crumb temperature exceeds 210°F.🤔


Creating a crispy crust for this loaf... after removing my Dutch Oven and bread from the oven I remove the bread from the DO and put it on the center rack in the oven. I turn the oven completely off and prop the door open about an inch, letting the oven and the dough cool off together. The idea there is during the cooling process the loaf omits moisture that if not evaporated by the temperature in your cooling oven that moisture will stay on your crust and make it soft.😡


Just another loaf of sourdough bread...🤗


Wartface's picture
Danni3ll3's picture

And thank you for the detailed steps to your procedure! It’s good to see how you went about to produce that gorgeous loaf. Well done!

Wartface's picture

I like to detail the process so beginners can observe the process of doing things other than same day loaves. I enjoyed seeing those details when I was a beginner. It might give someone the idea to slow things down to get a better loaf of bread.👍 


rpooley's picture

Great post!  The only step I can't really follow is the parchment sling/ice cube step.  Could you give a bit more detail?


Wartface's picture

The parchment paper sling... it’s a simple and safe way to load a boule of dough into a preheated Dutch Oven. You dump your final proofed dough out of your banneton onto a piece of parchment paper cut long enough so that you can lift your dough by pinching the ends of your parchment paper with your fingers and lower it into the DO. 

Ice cubes... I add a couple of ice cubes under the parchment paper and then put the lid back onto the DO to trap that extra steam. Lots of moisture/steam inside the DO during the ovenspring process keeps the surface of your dough soft and pliable so that the dough will achieve maximum ovenspring. 

dabrownman's picture

your bread clearly shows.  Very well done!

Enzymes in flour are not alive and just act as catalysts for complex chemical reactions that, among other things, break the protein bonds of starch turning it into the sugars that yeast and LAB can metabolize or different enzymes that break the protein bonds of the two gluten forming proteins making the dough extensible leading to a more open crumb.  Cold effects the yeast and LAB wee beasties by dramatically slowing down their reproductive rates and metabolic processes with yeast being slightly more effected by the cold.  Enzyme chemical processes are also slowed down dramatically by the cold .  Every 18F degrees in temperature increase, the chemical catalyst processes of Amylase and Protease doubles -  so the cold really affects the enzymes too.  There are 30 different proteins and nearly as many different enzymes found in flour plus the more than two dozen different, acid tolerant ,yeast and LAB found in various combinations in SD starters.

Your bread is just plain gorgeous