So, I had a day off on Monday and I pretty much spent that entire day attending to my sourdough bread dough, lol. I mentioned to Keith that while the process of making sourdough bread does bring me plenty of joy, it is also extremely time-consuming that I’m not sure if it’s worth my time and effort. However, when it’s all said and done, and when I am having a slice or two of homemade sourdough bread slathered generously with salted butter, I can tell you it’s definitely worth it! 😁
To recap, on August 26, I finally made time to revive my neglected sourdough starter! I had two jars of starter in my fridge that had probably been ignored for 3 months by that point. They were gross-looking and didn’t smell all that great. I discarded the dark color liquid on top and poured out the grayish surface layer as well. Then, I transferred the starter to new jars and fed them and fed them (with a combination of all-purpose, whole wheat, and rye flours) and got them looking and smelling wonderful again!
On Monday, I used some of the starter to make a loaf of sourdough bread. I used the Sourdough Bread recipe from Sourlotti, and the combined technique from Sourlotti and Alexandra Cooks. Here’s what I did:
Place 220g water, starter, and salt in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Then, add flours and stir to mix until it forms a dough. Transfer dough to a straight-sided container. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Then, stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours (4 sets of stretch and folds in total. I used Sourlotti’s stretch and fold technique, you can watch her video at https://youtu.be/pgx9xb4KQVE – lightly wet your hand, gently lift and flip dough upside down, stretch and fold in a circular motion, gently lift and flip dough right side up so the smoother side is up, round off the side). After the 4th set of stretch and fold and the 30 minutes rest that follows, we are going to perform 2 sets of coil folds.
Do the 1st set of coil fold (again, watch Sourlotti’s coil fold technique in her video at https://youtu.be/pgx9xb4KQVE) and let dough rest for 1 hour. If your house is on the cooler side, right before doing the 2nd set of coil fold, turn the oven on at any temperature for one minute, then turn it off. Microwave a cup of water until it’s boiling (about 1 minute 45 seconds), place the cup of water in the oven, and turn the oven light on. This will provide a more ideal temperature/environment for the dough to rise. Proceed to perform the 2nd coil fold, cover, and place the container of dough in the oven until dough increases in volume by 50% to 75% (it’s hard to tell sometimes but my dough spent only 2 hours in the oven – see the result at the bottom).
Once dough has reached the desired volume, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently shape the dough into a round (I used Alexandra Cooks’ technique for shaping, watch her video at https://alexandracooks.com/2017/10/24/artisan-sourdough-made-simple-sourdough-bread-demystified-a-beginners-guide-to-sourdough-baking/), cover, and let it rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line a large bowl with a smooth (cotton linen/flour sack) towel and sprinkle the towel with rice flour. Shape the dough again, then place dough in prepared bowl (smooth side down). Sprinkle top of dough (exposed part) with a little rice flour, then fold the sides of the towel over the top of the bowl to cover the dough lightly and transfer bowl to fridge for 12 hours (I went over by 3 hours and it was fine).
So let’s recap:
1. Mix ingredients to form dough
2. Place dough in container, cover, rest for 30 minutes
3. 1st stretch & fold, cover, rest for 30 minutes
4. 2nd stretch & fold, cover, rest for 30 minutes
5. 3rd stretch & fold, cover, rest for 30 minutes
6. 4th stretch & fold, cover, rest for 30 minutes
7. 1st coil fold, cover, rest for 1 hour
8. 2nd coil fold, cover, place in slightly warmed oven for 2 hours or until dough has increased in volume by 50% to 75%
9. On a lightly floured surface, gently shape dough into a round, cover, rest for 30 minutes
10. Prepare a bowl
11. Shape dough again and place in prepared bowl, cover, and place bowl in fridge for a slow rise
30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 475F with a 4 quart Dutch oven in it. When it’s time, remove bowl from fridge, and turn dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper that has been lightly sprinkled with rice flour. Lightly sprinkle top of the dough with more rice flour, score it, and transfer dough to preheated Dutch oven. Bake covered for 20 minutes. Uncover and lower temperature to 425F, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes (I did 20 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool at least one hour (I cooled mine on a rack) before slicing.
Here’s the result:
The bread smells great, has the signature tangy sourdough taste, has a depth of flavor (I feed my starter with Sunrise Flour Mill Heritage White, Heritage Whole Wheat, and Organic Rye flours) BUT it does not have the big, open holes! Ugh, lol. One thing I can think of is I rushed through the bulk fermentation stage – the dough only spent 2 hours in a slightly warmed oven rather than spending a few hours rising. Another possibility is that I used too much whole wheat in my dough (since there was whole wheat in my starter as well). Thankfully, the bread actually has quite an airy texture despite the lack of open holes. I will make it again and spend more time bulking although I have had others telling me that less holes are better in order to keep the butter on the bread and I agree! I am so torn, lol.