The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

First Attempt at High Hydration Sourdough Bread

Crusty Loafer's picture
Crusty Loafer

First Attempt at High Hydration Sourdough Bread

I have always loved the smell of fresh baked bread.  It holds a special place in my imagination.  Up until a year ago, my forays into bread baking was limited to a bread machine and a store bought package.  Last spring I attempted to create my very own sourdough starter.  It took a couple of tries, but eventually I was successful and had a very lively culture, all lovely and bubbly.

Then I began accumulating assorted items to pave the way for baking good sourdough bread: a 5 quart dutch oven, two proofing baskets, a lame for scoring my loaves, a bench knife and dough scraper and a large clear plastic container for doing bulk fermentation.

I have done a number of attempts at the process.  Each time was a learning experience.  Some new bit of information would come to light and I would note it and add to my knowledge.  Trial and error can teach you alot.  

But my most recent attempt, I followed Chad Robertson's Tartine Bread Country loaf recipe with some success.  I took from my refrigerated starter 40 grams and added 100 grams each of King Arthur's Bread Flour and water.  This was early in the morning just before I left for work.  When I got home that evening, my levain was ready to go with a sweet smell to it.  I had the young starter he advocated.

I used 1000 grams of Bread Flour, 750 water, 200 starter and 20 salt.  I used Autolyse (rest) method, allowing it to rest and absorb the water with three turns every half hour.  

My only hiccup in the whole process was in the shaping of the loaves.  Up until this time, I was used to working with dough at 60 or 65% hydration.  this was 75%.  I found that when I would try to create the tension in the dough's surface, it would only tear and not truly hold its shape.  I forged ahead, placing the two loaves in my baskets and refrigerated them overnight.  The next morning I fired up the oven to 450 degrees F and baked them 35 minutes with the lid on the dutch oven and then removed the lid and baked another 20 minutes.  The results were good for a first attempt.  However my crust was not as burnished as I would have liked.  I am thinking my folds should have been double to build the gluten enough for my shaping.