Week 56: Sourdough

If you do a Google search for sourdough recipes, you’ll get 25,600,000 results. There is a ton of information — and misinformation — to sift through. I tested five different methods and this version, from Full Proof Baking’s Kristen Dennis was the clear winner. Although it is time consuming, and a little tricky, the instructions are very detailed and the steps are demonstrated on the video, linked below. This is an all day affair — a perfect loaf for #bakingwhileworking.

The time chart below shows you what your day(s) would look like should you start at 9:00AM. Also, there are two pre-steps that are not shown in the video, so you need to be aware of them, and do the prep, before you begin:

  • Prepare the levain first: The 2nd step in the video is to add the levain, but making the levain is not included in the video (the amounts are, but not the step), AND it takes 6 hrs to be ready for use. So, make that first. After 3 hours, start the first step of mixing the flours with water, i.e. preparing the autolyse. That has to hydrate for 3 hours, so it and the levain will be ready at teh same time.
  • Preheat your oven before you take the overnight proofed dough out of the fridge. She suggests a 1-hr preheat.

Figure out what time you want to start before you begin, and measure everything out ahead of time (ingredients listed below as well), so you can follow along with the video in real time.

INGREDIENTS

LEVAINAUTOLYSEFINAL DOUGH
15g starter
30g water
30g flour
70g whole wheat
255g bread flour
253g water
6g levain
7.5g salt
Start TimeStepRest Time
9:00Mix the levain6 hrs
12:00Prepare the autolyse3 hrs
3:00Add the levain to the autolyse30 min
3:30Add the salt to the mixture30 min
4:00Fold30 min
4:30Lamination1-1/2 hrs
6:001st Stretch & Fold45 min
6:452nd Stretch & Fold45 min
7:303rd Stretch & Fold45 min
8:15Shape15 min
8:30Overnight Proof12 hrs
Next DayOven Temps *Time
9:00Preheat oven + pot to 4751 hr
10:00Remove from fridge, score, and bake @ 450 **20
10:20Remove lid10
10:30Bake @ 42510-15 min
10:45Cool in oven with door open***20 min

*The reason you want to be careful with the temperature and timing is because once the crust is hard, the dough stops rising since there’s no way for the steam to escape. These steps help to maintain the correct temperature and the dutch oven creates a good environment for steaming.

**This is the first time I’ve come across the method of putting the loaf into the oven straight from the fridge. I wonder if that had an effect on how well it rose…

***When bread cools, the moisture that is still inside either evaporates (if it’s in a dry environment), or gets absorbed by the crust. I leanred that this method of letting it “cool” down in the turned off oven with the door open, provides a nice dry envirorment for the moisture to evaporate in, instead of my more humid kitchen.

When it comes time to bake the bread, she recommends a baking stone, a boiler tray lid, and a pan with lava rocks in it. That’s a pretty tall order, so if you would rather use a Dutch oven, here’s her video for how to do that. I figured most of you will use that method, so I included the guideline for oven temp(s) and timing(s) in the chart as well.


I like to arm myself with as much knowledge as possible. Watching this video is like attending a cooking class. Give it a view and you’ll have a better starting point for making your first loaf above.

And this is Chad Robertson, owner of Tartine Bakery in San Francisco, giving a class in Denmark. A little sourdough porn for ya.

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