Week 75: Farmhouse Sourdough

My oh my, I don’t think a bread can get much better than this! I adapted it from Ken Forkish’s Pain au Bacon recipe in Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast, one of my all time favorite bread making cookbooks (see all my favorites here). After ditching a successful 20-year tech career, he opened up Ken’s Artisan Pizza and Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Portland, OR. and hasn’t looked back. He’s got quite a lot of video instructions for pizza and bread making on his website that every aspiring baker should view.

Step 1: Make the levain

  • 25g active starter
  • 100g white flour
  • 25g whole wheat
  • 100g warm water (85-90 degrees)
  1. Mix the starter, flours and water until incorporated.
  2. Cover, and let rest 9~10 hours.

Step 2: Prep bacon

  • 1/2 lb bacon
  1. Chop bacon into small pieces, and fry until nice and crisp
  2. Drain on paper towels
  3. Reserve 1 Tbsp bacon grease

Step 3: Make the autolyse

  • 432g white flour
  • 8g whole wheat
  • 342g warm water (85-90 degrees)
  1. Mix the flours and water together in a large bowl until incorporated
  2. Cover, and let rest for 30 minutes
  • 10g salt
  1. Sprinkle the salt onto the top of the dough and fold it in.

Step 4: Make dough

  • Levain
  • Autolyse
  • Bacon
  • Bacon fat
  1. Add the levain to the autolyse and use the pincer method to mix it in. See Ken demonstrating this method in the “Mixing By Hand” video here.
  2. Let rest, then spread the bacon fat over the top, and sprinkle the bacon over that.
  3. Mix again with the pincer method.

Step 5: Proof and knead

  1. The dough needs to rest for about 2 hours. Knead the dough using the stretch & fold method every 30 minutes. See the “Kneading during Proofing” videos on the Video page.

Step 6: Shape dough

  1. Gently remove dough onto a floured countertop, using a dough scraper.
  2. Dust flour around the perimeter, then lift sides just a bit and scoot the flour under.
  3. Lift sides up, then over to form a circular shape and tighten it up a bit.
  1. Flip over and push sides down and under with cupped hands to make the surface taught. See “Shaping” video on the Video page.
  2. Dust a proofing basket, or a tea towel placed in a bowl with a generous amount of flour.
  3. Gently lift than lower the dough into the basket, seam side down.
  4. Cover and proof about 3-1/2 to 4 hours.
  5. Cut a sling out of parchment paper to use for lowering the dough into your baking receptacle.
  1. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees, and place a Dutch oven with lid (or any heavy pot that has a lid) inside to heat up as well.

Step 7: Bake

  1. When dough is proofed, place the paper sling on top of the basket/bowl, then a cutting board on top of that.
  2. Carefully invert so the dough is on the cutting board, and out of the container.
  3. Remove the Dutch oven/pot from the oven, remove lid, and carefully place dough inside.
  4. Replace the lid, then return the Dutch oven/pot back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes
  5. Uncover, reduce heat to 450, and bake for 30 minutes more, until it’s a medium dark brown.
  6. Let cool on a rack before slicing.