dough club

Basic Country Sourdough Bread

makes 2 loaves

  • 900g strong white bread flour
  • 100g whole wheat flour
  • 750g water
  • 20g kosher salt
  • 200g sourdough starter

Step 1. Building a levain

  • The night before you plan to mix the dough, combine 200g water, 200g flour (a 50/50 mix of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour), and 50g of your existing sourdough starter in a large jar or bowl. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.

Step 2. Mixing

  • The next morning, add the levain and all but 50g of water in a large mixing bowl. Roughly distribute the starter in the water by swishing it around with your fingers. Add flour to the bowl, and let sit for 30 minutes, so the flour can absorb the water.

  • Sprinkle salt evenly over the top of the dough, and add the remaining 50g water. Mix to combine, alternating between squishing the dough between your fingers, and a few sets of stretch and folds. You want the dough to form a cohesive mass with a bit of strength and stretch to it. This usually takes me 6-10 sets, alternating between the two movements.

Step 3. Bulk Fermentation

Note: The ambient temperature in your kitchen will play a big role in how long your dough needs to properly ferment and develop the sufficient strength needed for shaping. A few degrees difference in temperature might mean the difference between your dough being ready in 3 hours vs 8. This recipe assumes an ambient temperature of about 78°f, but if your kitchen is significantly cooler, or is prone to big fluctuations in temperature, you can create a makeshift proofing drawer by placing your dough in a cold oven with only the light on. This gives me a consistent 84°f environment and allows me to complete the bulk in three and a half hours.

  • Perform 4 sets of stretch and folds over the next two hours. Cover the dough and leave it to rest at room temperature for about another hour and a half.
  • Your dough should have been resting at room temperature for about 3.5 hours at this stage.

Step 4. Dividing and Shaping

  • Gently empty the dough on to a clean, unfloured surface. Take care not to deflate the dough, or cause it to over-stretch when moving from the bowl to your countertop.
  • Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour and divide in to two equal portions. Shape each lump of dough in to a loose boule, lightly flour the top of each, and let rest uncovered at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.

Note: This pre-shaping step allows the dough to relax after being moved from the mixing bowl, and gives you a strong starting point for the dough's final shaping. Don't worry too much about the tightness of your boules at this stage. It's expected that they'll relax and spread.

  • Todo: shaping instructions.

Step 5. Proofing

TODO: note about how this is important for flavor development and how to utilize cold temperatures for retardation.

  • Place the dough seam side up in a proofing basket, then place the proofing basket inside a plastic bag, or cover with a shower cap to prevent it drying out. Place in the fridge overnight.

Step 6. Baking

Note about recommended baking vessels: lodge combi, dutch oven, challenger pan

  • An hour before you plan to bake, place your baking pan in the oven and pre-heat to 500℉.
  • Remove one of the loaves from the fridge and gently lower it in to center of the pan. Take extra care not to touch the pan with any part of your hands or arms at this stage.
  • Todo: scoring instructions
  • Cover pan with lid and return to oven. Immediately lower the oven's temperature to 475℉. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the lid, and continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes until the crust is a deep golden brown color. Place bread on cooling rack, and let it rest for at least an hour before slicing.
  • Place pan in the oven and bring the temperature back up to 500℉. Repeat with the second loaf.
  • Enjoy!

Example Schedule

  • Friday evening, before bed: Build levain
  • Saturday 8am: Autolyse
  • Saturday 8:30am: Mix final dough
  • Saturday 12pm: Divide, shape, and place in fridge overnight
  • Sunday 8am: Preheat pan in oven
  • Sunday 9am: Remove shaped loaves from fridge, score and bake.