This is perhaps my 5th attempt at making bread with sourdough starter, without any commercial yeast. Three of my previous attempts used a Sourdough pain naturel recipe with various mixes of whole wheat, white bread flour, and unbleached all-purpose flour, and one was an improvised recipe using white flours. I used an overnight levain with only a small amount of starter (~15g) for all of these.
For the 5th try, I used Flo Makanai's 1.2.3 method to make a small batch (2 short baguettes) using only unbleached all-purpose flour (Safeway brand), and I'm very happy with the result. The taste, crust, and crumb are every bit as good as my best commercial-yeast French bread (using Julia Child's recipe); it is slightly on the dense, too-chewy end of the spectrum, but that may not be a bad thing.
I did not do an overnight levain this time; instead, I took the starter proportion straight from my mature culture (100% hydration by weight), which had not been fed in almost 24 hours.
Here are the total proportions I used:
- 100g starter
- 200g water
- 300g flour
- 7g salt
In the past I've had some problems getting all the flour to be evenly moistened by the autolysis, and it can be hard to incorporate the salt into a shaggy autolysed dough, so I changed up the procedure a little this time, hoping to alleviate these.
This morning, in a medium-sized bowl I combined 200g water with 200g flour, as kind of a "2/3 autolyse", since it leaves out 100g of the total flour. After mixing this, I sprinkled the 7g of table salt on top so it could start dissolving.
About 30 minutes later, I added the remaining 100g flour, and the 100g of starter, and stirred just enough to moisten it. Unfortunately, it was still kind of lumpy due to the dry flour, but it smoothed out after a few stretch-and-slap-and-folds over the next couple hours. There was not a significant rise in volume during that time, but plenty of large bubbles, and the texture of the dough felt just right - silky, yielding, and sticky if you touch it for too long.
By lunchtime it looked ready to be shaped into loaves. I went with two small baguettes, since the dough seemed pretty slack, and I didn't want one big flat chunk. These rose for almost two hours, nearly doubling in volume.
I baked them on small cookie sheets on parchment paper, in a 450F oven on the upper rack for about 30 minutes. For steam, I use a broiler pan of water on the bottom rack, and a hand spritzer against the walls of the oven every few minutes. I also sprayed the top of the loaves a few times to give them a nice crust, and rotated the pans to get even browning.
This is a recipe I will definitely use again!