Success, at last!! I hope...
I feel like I must brag a little bit, with this loaf that I just pulled out of the oven. After much trial and tribulation, and lots of loaves donated to the garbage can, I think I mostly understand how to bake a GOOD loaf of sourdough bread.
To start from the top, I had decided to try baking a loaf of bread, after being unsure of whether or not I had rehabilitated my starter. as well as the days being really hot. It had been behaving a bit weirdly still, but I thought, "What the heck." So what I did was use the Norwich Sourdough recipe as a the basis, and kind of did a weird mix of that with the Tartine method.
I did half of her recipe, so to break it down, the ingredients list went as:
450g ap flour
60g rye flour
180g whole wheat starter
11g of salt, dissolved in 25 g of water
I mixed the ingredients by hand, let it autolyse for 30 minutes. After that, I only did 3 stretch and folds at 30 minutes each. I had contemplated doing a fourth, but I had noticed the dough had been rising quite quickly, so I stopped it there. After the third stretch and fold, I let it sit for 30 minutes, at which point I did a quick and dirty pre-shape, let it bench rest for about 15 minutes, and did the final shaping, and dumped it into the banneton. I stuck it in the fridge at about 9:45 PM, and pulled it out at about 9:15am. I had noticed that when I pulled the loaf out, it had expanded in size up to about 1.5 times. I let it sit for about 45 minutes on the counter while the oven heated up, baked it at 475*F for 20 minutes with the lid on my DO and 450 without the lid for another 20 minutes.
Upon removal of the bread from the oven, I could hear it singing and crackling away. For the time being, I am thankful that I cannot smell the bread due to an on going cold, thus reducing the temptation to hack into it right away. But I cannot wait to let it finish cooling down to cut into it for lunch later.
A couple things to note, mostly for myself, but I had let the dough rise about 1.5x it's size each, during the bulk fermentation and final rise stage. As well, the days have been reaching about 30*C externally, and about 23-24*C inside the house. Bulk fermentation was about 1.5 hours, and final fermentation was about 12 hours.
I bet it is delicious. Congrats!! Now you are hooked.
The drive for perfection has been part of the addiction for baking bread, but I think now that I have a much better understanding and grasp of HOW to bake this thread, the drive has now shifted to trying different things like adding herbs, or using beer or coffee instead of water, and so on.
Did you take any crumb photos?
It turns out I did a rather goofy job of mixing the salt in, as I just ate a rather large glob of it, but overall, the taste, and texture is one that I have never experienced before. The inside is just perfectly moist, and slightly chewy with a very, very mild sour flavour. It seems to have a very subtle nutiness to it, though I will have to wait for the congestion to clear up. The crust is on the darker side in terms of colour, but the texture is so wonderful. It's not as hard as my previous loaves, and has a wonderfully light crunch to it.
Apart from the slight goof up with the salt, this is single handedly the most amazing bread I have ever experienced.
If you don't mind a suggestions, from the crumb photo, it looks to me like the dough was a bit under-fermented. I think you would get a more aerated crumb with a longer bulk fermentation.
Yeah, I'm going to do that next time. I got really nervous that I would accidentally overproof the dough, so I shaped it a bit early and stuck it in the fridge. Would you suggest another set of stretch and folds during that process, or just leave it?