This time around I am revisiting the sourdough seeded bread.
Having looked over my posts in the recent past, I realized that although they covered my thought processes fairly well, for someone looking for a guide on how to successfully bake a sourdough bread they were a bit incomplete. This post seeks to rectify that situation. I will attempt to cover all the steps I go through, with accompanying pictures. That will make the page a bit long, but hopefully worth loading for anyone truly interested.
Like all the breads I have been baking, it starts with producing a leaven from my starter. I generally do this the night before the day I plan to bake (although sometimes I end up baking the morning of the day after). This was done around 11:30pm. To create the leaven I mixed with a whisk in a bowl:Movie Fifty Shades Darker (2017)
- 30g of starter
- 100ml of water
- 60g of white bread flour
- 60g of stone ground whole wheat flour
I then carefully scraped the result into a clean glass jar (I tend to use canning jars for my starter and my leaven). I then left it to rise overnight.
In the morning, it wasn’t quite ready (in the summer, curiously enough, it often takes longer because the house is not being heated). Once it had risen, it looked like this:
The top of the leaven was bubbly indicating that it was certainly active and ready to raise a bread dough:
I got out the big bowl I use and prepared my ingredients for mixing the dough.
- 250g leaven
- 700ml warm water
- 500g Wessex Mill Six Seed Bread Flour
- 250g Tesco Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour
- 250g Plain White Flour (I would have used White Bread Flour, but I had just run out)
- 20g salt
I poured the water into the bowl, followed by the leaven (which floated nicely on top). I then mixed the leaven and the water together thoroughly to disperse the various parts of the leaven evenly throughout. I then added the flour and mixed the dough until all the dry flour had been incorporated into the dough. The result looked like this:
I then placed the cover for the bowl loosely on top and put it in a reasonably warm place for about 30 minutes.
When the time was up I sprinkled the salt over the top of the dough and after wetting my hand to prevent the dough sticking to my skin too much, I thoroughly mixed the salt into the dough by reaching in and squeezing the mixture between my fingers over and over again. Once that was completed, the lid was again placed on top and the bowl was set aside for another 30 minutes. After that it looked like this:
The dough is already starting to rise, though slowly. It is now time to start doing the proper turns (the previous one was mixing in the salt, which was not really a proper set of turns). The turns take the place of kneading the dough and are performed by placing a wet hand into the bowl and reaching underneath to pull the dough up into the air, stretching it.
I do this 4-5 times, until I have gotten all the way around the bowl.
Once the turns have been done, and I have scraped any dough off my hand with the scraper, the lid is placed back on the bowl for another 30-40 minutes. I will do this every 30-40 minutes for the next 6-7 hours, until the dough looks like it is ready to be split into loaves.
After about 8 hours this time, the dough looked like this:
and it was time to split the dough into two loaves. I poured it out onto a wooden work surface (not floured!).
I then sprinkled flour over the top fairly liberally, and using my bench knife/scraper, I split it into two pieces.
Each piece is flipped over onto its floured side, and then sealed by folding the two ends together.
Once both pieces have been quickly formed into round pieces using the bench knife and the free hand, they are floured and covered with a tea towel to give them what is known as a “bench rest” of around 20-30 minutes.
Once the bench rest is complete, it is time for the final shaping. I am gradually getting better at this step. Using a minimum of additional flour and together with the bench knife, the dough is stretched and folded in half, then stretched in the sidewards direction and folded over the middle, then stretched from the other side and folded over the part in the middle, then from the bottom and from the top. Finally, make sure the pieces seal to each other to make a solid mass, dust flour over the final seam area and turn it over. Using the bench knife and your hands, shape it carefully but quickly and without too much handling into the final loaf shape. Prepare a bowl or banneton if you have one lined with a tea towel and dusted with rice flour to prevent sticking.
Using the bench knife and your hand lift the loaf quickly and carefully into the bowl with the seam side up. Dust around the edges and the visible portion of the loaf with the rice flour and then fold lightly the towel closed to let it do the final rise. Do the same with the other.
After 3-4 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator), get out the combo cooker and turn on the oven. This is what a combo cooker looks like:
I place both pieces into the oven at the same time as I start it. I turn mine up all the way (using an oven thermometer I have established that even maxed out, my oven only gets to around 450°F anyway, and 500°F would be even better. On my oven this is gas mark 9 (plus a bit past). You should use an oven thermometer to get to know your oven. Mine takes 40 minutes to reach this temperature.
When the timer goes off, I unpack the first loaf, then open the oven and using an oven mitt I remove the smaller piece of the combo cooker from the oven.
I quickly tip the loaf into the middle of the pan, and using a razor blade I score the top in a square pattern.
Then using two oven mitts I retrieve the other part of the combo cooker and place it on top and quickly put the whole thing in the oven. The timer is set for 20 minutes. Once the time has passed, the oven is opened and the top is removed.
It is already looking very promising. The scoring has opened up well. Now it will bake for another 25 minutes with the lid off to finish the crust and complete the interior.
When the timer fires, the pan is removed from the oven and the loaf is placed on a cooling rack. The excess flour is quickly tipped from the pan and it is lightly wiped with a paper towel. It is then put back in the oven together with the top for 10 minutes to bring it back up to temperature.
Now the second loaf is unpacked and prepared to be put in the oven.
Following the same procedure as before, the loaf is placed in the pan and scored, then covered with the top and placed in the oven for 20 minutes. The lid is then removed.
This time the scores have not opened quite a nicely, but it is still looking good.
This one also ended up looking very good. Overall, this particular baking run turned out quite well, even though I had to use 250g of plain white flour. It might account for the loaves being just a touch less high than I would like to have seen.