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+ servings
Sourdough loaf

Sourdough Bread

Richard Bewley
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 1 hr 5 mins
Proving Time 13 hrs
Total Time 15 hrs 5 mins
Course Bread
Cuisine Central European
Servings 1 loaf

Equipment

  • Glass preserving jar with lid (I use Weck 580ml)
  • Digital measurement scales
  • Thermometer
  • 25cm banneton proving basket with cloth liner
  • Plastic dough scraper
  • bread lame, safety razor blade, or very sharp knife
  • 28cm cast iron cocotte (dutch oven) with lid (I use Staub)
  • Large mixing bowl
  • pipette

Ingredients
  

Sourdough Leaven

  • 50 g Sourdough Starter
  • 50 g Warm filtered water ~35 degrees Celsius
  • 50 g Unbleached white bread flour

Sourdough Bread

  • 150 g Bubbling, active Sourdough Leaven
  • 300 g Warm filtered water ~35 degrees Celsius
  • 500 g Unbleached white bread flour
  • 10 g fine sea salt

Instructions
 

Step 1: Make the Sourdough Leaven

  • Place a clean mason jar on a digital scale, and zero it. Add 50g of your starter, 50g unbleached white bread flour, and 50g warm filtered water (~ 35-40C) and mix thoroughly with a fork. You may want to mark the starter's height with an elastic band, tape, or a dry board marker (I actually use a liquid chalk pen)
  • Cover loosely with a lid, and leave in a warm place (ideally 20-29C)* to ferment for approximately 4-6 hours, or until the leaven has doubled in size (or more) and reached its peak. If you leave it too long, your starter will deflate.
  • The leaven should now be very active with lots of bubbles and ready for baking. Another option to check if the leave is active enough, you can try the float test **. Drop a teaspoon of active starter into a glass of water, if it remains on the surface (and not sink) it should be active enough.

Step:2 Make the Sourdough Bread

  • Place your large mixing bowl on an electronic scale, and weigh 300g of warm water (~35-38C)
  • Using a silicone spatula, scoop out all the leaven and pour into the water. Using a bell whisk, thorough combine the water and leaven.
  • Pour in 500g strong unbleached break flour, and mix thoroughly with a silicone spatula. Then, transfer to a plastic dough scraper, and scrape all the dough from the sides of the bowl and combine into a scraggy ball of dough. Cover with a warm damp tea towel and leave to autolyse at room temperature for an hour.
  • Weigh 15g warm water, and 10g fine sea salt and stir thoroughly. If you over weigh 15g water (easily done), use a pipette to extract the excess. Using the dough scraper, detach the dough from the base of the bowl and turn to form into a round.
  • Spoon half the saline mixture over the top of the dough, then poke several times with your fingers (as if making a Focaccia). Turn the dough over, spoon over the rest of the saline solution, and poke again several times.
  • Using the dough scraper, form the dough into a ball and create tension in its surface. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave at room temperature. Wait 10 minutes.
  • Stretch and Fold #1: With the tips of your fingers (moistened with water), lift the dough from the corner opposite you, stretch, and fold over. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the stretch and fold three more times. Use the dough scraper to create tension and the boule shape, cover with tea towel and leave for 30 minutes.
  • Stretch and Fold #2: With moistened fingertips, lift the dough from the corner opposite you, stretch, and fold over. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the stretch and fold three more times. Use the dough scraper to create tension and the boule shape, cover with tea towel and leave for 30 minutes.
  • Stretch and Fold #3: With moistened fingertips, lift the dough from the corner opposite you, stretch, and fold over. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the stretch and fold three more times. Use the dough scraper to create tension and the boule shape, cover with tea towel and leave for 30 minutes.
  • Stretch and Fold #4: With moistened fingertips, lift the dough from the corner opposite you, stretch, and fold over. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the stretch and fold three more times. Use the dough scraper to create tension and the boule shape, cover with tea towel and leave for 15 minutes.
  • Gently flour the inside of the banneton proving basket. Create tension one last time with the dough scraper, then scoop up the entire dough boule and turn it into the floured banneton basket (so that the top is now at the bottom of the basket). Sprinkle a thin layer of flour over the dough, and flatten the top and shape the edges by patting down with your fingers and palms. Cover with the cloth liner and refrigerate for 4-5 hours.

Bake the Sourdough loaf

  • Place a sheet of greaseproof paper onto a flat surface. Carefully turn out the sourdough boule so that the rounded top is facing you. Using a pastry brush, dust off the excess flour and brush away.
  • Very carefully using a lame, safety razor blade, or sharp knife, score the surface of the boule. You may want to start with a large '#' shape, but other options are available.
  • Pick up the greaseproof paper and carefully lower the boule into the centre of the cast iron cocotte. Make sure that the paper is not touching the sides of the boule. Cover with the lid, place in oven and set to 230-240 degrees Celsius. Bake for 35 minutes.
  • Remove lid, lower oven temperature to 200 degrees Celsius, and bake for a further 30 minutes.
  • Remove cocotte from oven, lift loaf and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Allow to cool for 2 hours.

Notes

* Everyone will have a different 'room temperature', and this is something which will vary throughout the seasons (or at least for me in the UK). I have had leaven work fine as low as 17 degrees Celsius, and also closer to 28 degrees Celsius.
** The float test is not always 100% accurate and can result in false positives. The indicator I typically use is when the leaven has doubled in size, full of bubbles and gives off a fermented odour.
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