Country Loaves (again)
It has been a while since my last visit to TFL. I have been quite sick and bedridden for a few weeks. My sister has to take care of Blossom (my seed starter) until I feel better. We miss her so much! I was so happy to have her home last week, healthy and happy.
Summer is around the corner in Melbourne but the weather is still quite cold. I decided to bake a few country loaves today. Two loaves are to give away as thank you gifts to our good friends who have helped out and sent me so much food.
When I was sitting down to work out the amount of levain for 3 loaves, I suddenly remembered what I read not long ago in Graham Prichard’s blog of sourdough.com. This is one of Graham’s methods at the Companion Bakery in Tasmania. A stiff starter is built at 15C for 20 hours then turn into a warm liquid starter in the second build. The liquid starter should be kept at 28C to 33C and it is ready to use in around 2 to 4 hours. The idea of this method is essentially to give the starter a warm and wet condition to favor the lactic acid production. I decided to give his method a go this time to see if my country bread to taste differently from my last loaves.
If you like to read more, here is the link: http://sourdough.com/blog/companion-bakery-tasmania-how-we-make-sourdough 
Here is my formula:
3 loaves (about 900g each)
Levain 17% preferment flour
1st build @ 60% hydration
50g white starter @ 100% hydration
50g whole wheat flour
20g cold water
Mix all together and leave for 12 hours at room temperature of 18oC
2nd build @ 125% hydration
120g stiff starter @ 60% hydration
125g whole wheat flour
230g warm water
Add water slowly to the starter ball and stir until the mixture is smooth. Add whole wheat flour and stir well together. Make sure the starter is at around 28C to 30C and should be matured in about 2 hours to 4 hours.
When I started my second build, my liquid starter was at 30C and I couldn’t maintain this temperature as my room temperature at the time was only 16C. It took 10 hours to mature.
Final Dough @ 78% hydration
475g levain @ 125% hydration
75g organic whole rye flour
50g organic whole wheat flour
150g organic whole spelt flour
1025g Australia’s Laucke organic plain flour (11.5% protein)
900g cold water
I mixed the flours and water until all well hydrated. The autolysis period was 10 hours at room temperature of 16oC.
Levain and salt were added in to the autolyse. It was quite messy when mixing a liquid levain into the autolyse by hand. With a large dough to mix by hand this time and since I don’t use slap-and-fold method, I thought I better give it a few extra letter folds. Room temperature was 16C so bulk fermentation was 6 hours in total. There were 5 double-letter folds every 45 minutes. The dough was divided, shaped and final proof for another two hours then retarded for 18 hours. I intended to bake those loaves off at 6am in this morning on but I slept in until 8!
The oven was preheated to 250C with the Dutch ovens. I baked straight from the fridge then immediately I turned the oven down to 230C when all loaded into the oven. It was 25 minutes with the lid on and another 20 minutes with the lid off.
Lucky there were no harm done after 18 hours in the fridge …. Phew!
Crumb of the boule
After a few hours of cooling, here is the crumb of the boule. The crust is sweet and crunchy, the crumb is tender and moist, nutty and complex. There are definitely acidic notes in the background but it is a very soft tang. I think may be the dough had a bit long retarding period.
In all and all, I started to understand better Jeffrey Hamelman’s sourdough recipes in his Bread book after this bake. This time I couldn’t maintain the final build of starter in a warmer environment as Graham suggested, I definitely will try this method again in summer time to see whether the bread flavour is different. But for now, I think I should be off and do some catch-up readings here.
It is great to be able to bake again. Hope you all are well and happy baking.