I sit here waiting for one of two loaves of sourdough I prepared last night to come out of the oven. Actually, I am waiting to uncover the loaf, reduce the heat, and let the loaf brown before removing it to the cooling rack. I am an avid fan of sourdough bread. I cannot buy real sourdough anywhere near my home here in Avoca, PA. so I have taken it upon myself to grow my own starter, nurture him and create delicious breads from him. I call my starter “him” because it is a living, breathing organism that needs love and attention to thrive. Much like a child or a pet that we hold dear to our hearts, the starter will spoil with neglect. I have named him “Mordecai”. Not for any other reason than he just reminds me of a Mordecai, and I have four teenage children and we all love the name.
I have been on this journey of bread baking for a few years now. It started with basic whites, then moved to enriched dough’s. I continued my research into finding more recipes and techniques when I came across a website run by Chef Jacob Burton. Chef Burton inspired me to create sourdough bread from scratch. I listened to his podcasts and watched his videos with new eyes for baking. Creating my own yeast? I don’t have to purchase anything but flour? this is fantastic! Thank’s Chef!
I know that sounds like I am cheap and don’t want to buy anything, but I did mention I had four teenage children. I love my children dearly, but they can suck the life right out of a wallet :-). All kidding aside, I was moved by Chef Burton’s teachings and was hungry for more. I had already enrolled in culinary school at the young age of forty seven after about thirty years of driving a tractor trailer. I loved the schooling and was learning the classic techniques as taught by Escoffier. I was well on my way to creating a full meal instead of a loaf of bread, and possibly an actual job in “The Industry”.
The timer’s going off and it’s time to pull the bread from the oven. Looks awesome! If I use the right filters on my phone I can make it look like a real artisan loaf. This is just one of my culinary passions. I love to smoke food, all kinds. I do not limit myself to pulling pork, slapping it on a hamburger bun, and chucking it into my mouth. I would rather take that succulent smoked pork, break it up and mix it with some drippings. Create a fluffy, rich brioche bun, pickled cabbage, and a tangy mustard sauce. build it up and savor every bite and thinking that it took a week to get to this point and it was totally worth it. This loaf of bread took months to prepare and every bite will remind me of the love and passion that was put into it.
I just came back from walking the dogs with my beautiful wife of nineteen years and took the other loaf out of the oven. Here is a picture of them side by side. Now please be aware that the second loaf had eight more hours to mature in the fridge while I was at work, also I didn’t use those cool filters. I will definitely use the filters from now on, they just make the food look antique and more artisan like. I am going to prepare dinner and cut into some amazing bread.
Here is the recipe for an 80% hydration sourdough boule:
375 g Sourdough starter @ 25%/25% whole wheat flour/Rye flour + 50% purified water
813 g Bread flour
612 g water
30 g Sea salt
Once your starter is strong enough to bake with, put starter in a non reactive plastic container. Add water holding back 50 grams to use to mix in the salt. Mix with your hand or wooden spoon until starter is fully dissolved. Add flour and mix with a wet hand until the flour and water are combined and no dry flour remains. It will be a lumpy mass of rough dough. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and let autolyse for 30 minutes. (This allows the flour to fully hydrate)
Sprinkle salt over dough and incorporate the remaining water or mix it in with the remaining 50 grams of water and mix into the dough with a wet hand. you are now ready to start the stretching process. reach down the side of the dough and pull it straight up and over the top. rotate the container 1/4 turn and repeat until all four sides have been pulled over. Reach under, pick up the dough and flip it. Cover for another 1/2 hour. repeat the stretching process for 2 hours.his will cover the bulk rise process.
Next you can do whatever you want with the dough.. I chose to make two round loaves called boules (French for ball).
To create a boule, divide the dough in half and drag one side over a lightly floured surface. pull one side to you while stretching it over the top. Repeat by stretching the opposite side over the top. Rotate the dough 90 degrees and repeat stretching over the top. When you do the last stretch, roll the dough over and spin it to close the seam and pull the dough tight. You can do tightening pulls by cupping your hands behind the dough and rolling your hand under while pulling it towards you. The stickiness of the dough grabbing the surface will pull the top tighter. rotate 1/4 turn and repeat.
dust the top with flour and turn it seam side up into a proofing basket, cover with plastic wrap or a towel and let proof for at least 1 hour. You can also put it in the fridge overnight.
Preheat oven with a cast iron dutch oven inside to 500 degrees F. for 40 minutes. Flip the boule into the dutch oven seam side down and score the top using scissors, a knife, or razor blade. This will help the bread rise in the direction you want it too, up.
Cook for 20 minutes, remove the lid to the dutch oven, lower the temp to 450 degrees F. and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until the internal temp is 200 degrees F.
Let rest for at least an hour before cutting into it.
I hope this helps and I’ll work on a video for better clarity on the whole process.