Basic Sourdough Version 1.0
Just note: this recipe is not for someone starting off with sourdough and who doesn’t understand the terms I’m talking about. If you’ve made a few loaves and you know the terminology and you want to figure out how to do this on a weekday when you have a full time job – this is for you. I don’t know if this is so much a recipe as me just talking through what I do to get a loaf made. This works for me because I mix the levain first thing in the morning and I don’t get to add it into the autolysed flour till almost 10 hours later – this is very counter-intuitive when you read other recipes. Everyone talks about starters peaking at 4-5 hours but for someone who works, this is not a viable option. I found that by making a very stiff levain, it’s more forgiving when it peaks. I’ve used this levain to make bread at 6 hours, 8 hours and even 11 hours. It means you produce a slightly different loaf but as long as it looks bubbly before you mix it into the autolysed flour, it works.
15g active sourdough starter
65g baker’s white flour
5g wholemeal flour
All of the levain
400g baker’s white flour
45g wholemeal flour
In the morning prepare the levain by mixing the sourdough starter, water, flour and wholemeal flour in a glass container. I use a Weck Jar and after mixing, I place the lid on top. I find with this starter I can leave it for 8-10 hours before its ready. I usually do this before work and I start the autolyse process of the flour and water at this stage too. In a large glass bowl or a plastic tub, mix the 334g water, 400g baker’s flour and 45g wholemeal flour and cover with a bees wax wrapper or cling film.
When I come home from work I add the levain to the autolysed flour. I mix this in with my Danish dough hook but I’ve also used a silicone spatula for this step as well. A lot of people use their hands to incorporate the levain. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, sprinkle the salt over the dough and incorporate in. At this stage I’ll do a few stretch and folds before covering the bowl and setting aside again for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, I do another set of stretch and folds and if the dough feels quite sticky and slack, I’ll take it out and do the slap and fold technique till the dough builds up some strength and feels less sticky. Return it to the bowl and cover.
After another 30 minutes, do a set of stretch and fold. Cover and set aside.
After another 30 minutes I do my last set of stretch and fold. The dough should look like it’s holding its shape a bit more at this stage (sometimes you might have to add another set of stretch and fold). The covered bowl is set aside for at least 90 minutes to finish off the bulk proofing.
When the dough is ready for pre-shaping, I turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly sprinkle some flour on top and then flip it over. I roughly pull each edge of the dough into the middle and flip it over to gently shape into a round shape. I cover with an inverted bowl for 20 minutes.
When I’m ready to shape the dough, I prepare the banneton by lining it with a Chux cloth which is only used for lining my bannnetons. It’s dusted with a mix of plain flour and rice flour. Some people use tea towels or other type of liners. If you want the lines from your banneton to leave an impression in your dough, you don’t need to use a liner but make sure you’re very generous with flouring the inside of the banneton with plain flour and rice flour.
Scatter a little more flour over the top of the dough and flip it over. People have different ways they like to shape their doughs. I pull the edge closest to me into the middle and then pull in from the sides to “stitch” the dough together before pulling the top edge over everything and rolling the dough back over. If I’m forming a more oblong shape with my dough, I’ll pinch the two ends to seal it. I use a dough scraper to move the dough to create tension in the shape.
I gently place the dough into the banneton and place it in a plastic bag which I then clip shut at the end. The dough will sit on the bench for 30 minutes before I put it in the fridge to prove overnight.
I don’t usually bake till 18 hours later.
When I’m ready to bake, I place my two piece cast iron pot into the a cold oven and turn the oven on to preheat to 230 degrees Celsius (conventional oven). This can take up to 45 minutes.
I take the pot out carefully with oven mitts on and remove the lid. I take the dough straight from the fridge, place a piece of baking paper that I’ve cut to the shape of the dough (leaving a 2-3 cm border around the dough) and flip it into the cast iron. I quickly create a few cuts in the dough and then place the lid back on and it goes straight into the oven for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, I remove the lid and reduce the oven to 200 degrees Celsius and bake for another 25 minutes. If the bread looks like it’s browning too much on one side, I’ll turn the pot after 15 minutes.
When the bread has finished baking, I remove the pot from the oven and carefully remove the bread from the pot and place it on a cooling rack. I let the bread fully cool before I cut into it.