This sourdough bread is mystical because I cannot remember how much water I added to the dough 🙂
Argh… Murphy’s law – this is a wonderful loaf and it would be awesome to replicate it in the future. Anyways, at least I remember how the initial dough felt; shaggy but not runny. Good…
This is my second sour dough bread trial using my Monster sourdough starter. The first one last week ended up being something beyond brick….. Something even stronger… Like steel or something….
This time, it is better. The crust was definitely chewy and inside was very soft. It could use more salt next time. By the way, with this loaf I started to believe in “oven spring”; this dough has doubled in size while in the oven. I could not be more enchanted right now 🙂
Bon appetite! 🙂
Levain: Activate the starter by feeding a night before and resting at room temperature over-night.
For this purpose, I mixed 1/2 cup of starter with 2/3 cup whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup of water in a bowl. Then, I transferred it in a clean jar, secured the lid with a clean kitchen towel and elastic band, and forgot till next morning.
*well… that is not true – I checked it many times during the night. Seeing it rising was magical 🙂 After all, I just had transferred it to fridge last week and this was the first time I tried to revive it back at room temperature 🙂
**basically, the starter I used for this levain is the portion of the starter that I am supposed to throw away while feeding the starter every week. Making no waste feels good 🙂
***it makes a stiff, not runny, levain
It must have at least doubled in size and have bubbles around the jar, indicating an active, robust starter.
1. Mix 1 cup of levain with 1/2 cup water in a bowl. Add 2 cups of bread flour and just enough water to make a shaggy and sticky dough. Cover and rest at room temperature for 4 hours
*the autolyse step is supposed to hydrate the flour and help develop gluten. At the end of this period, the dough should look a little bit swollen and possibly flattened out
2. Add 2 tps of salt and 2 tps of sugar to dough while still in the container and mix
3. Spread 1/3 cup of flour on a clean surface and place the dough on. Knead for 2-3 minutes lightly and add flour as needed.
*The dough should be fluffy, somewhat sticky but not too sticky
4. Place the dough in a clean container that has been brushed with vegetable oil. Turn the dough upside down to make sure it gets oil all over. Cover and let rest for 30 min
*vegetable oil helps with preventing the dehydration of the dough. i somehow feel like it also helps with the dough structure, but I have no convincing evidence for this yet (many people say that vegetable oil actually reduces the rising capacity)
5. Stretch and fold 4-5 times and let rest for 30 min covered
*this technique is supposed to be a good alternative to kneading. If you do not have a dough mixer or a bread machine and are using your hands to knead, you may want to give it a try
6. Stretch and fold for a total of 4 times and then rest the dough for a final 30 min
*I perform all these steps while the dough is still in the container with the help of a bench cutter
**by the way I use a large pot to mix the dough and for the fermentation/first rise. It is a very practical alternative. Just close the lid and cover with a blanket/thick towel or place in a warm place, like a warm oven, for the fermentation step
*** you will notice that the dough slightly rises/gets fluffier and develops some structure with each stretch and fold.
7. Take the dough on a lightly floured surface, spread with the help of your hands, and then fold over and shape. I made a round loaf. Cover and let rest there for 10 min.
8. Proofing: I used a bowl covered with a clean white fabric that had around 1 tbs of flour sprinkled to prevent the dough from sicking to it. I covered the dough and let proof for an hour
*they say sourdough does not rise as much as the commercial yeast, which in my experience was the case as well
9. 20 min before the end of the proofing step, pre-heat the oven to 400 F and place your roaster/dutch oven in
*I recently became a fan of using roasters to bake the bread. It provides good heat conductance and shortens the baking time. They say dutch ovens are even better. I bought a turkey roaster which is quite big. The advantage of it is that I can bake loafs with any shape; e.g. baton or boule. Not sure whether I can do this with a dutch oven – they usually looks small and suitable for boule only
10. Transfer the dough upside down on a parchment paper, score with sharp knife (around half an inch), and immediately place into the heated roaster
*dough was leveled down as soon as I scored it, which discouraged me. yet, the spring oven surprised me; the end product had risen and formed a lovely bread
11. Bake 30 min covered, and then an additional 20 min uncovered at 400 F