Sour-Dough Bread

Starter

Above photo and text from The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook by Jim Lahey

Refreshing your starter:

If you keep your starter in the fridge, it has to be fed only every 7-10 days. 

Mix together well:

  • about 1tblsp ( 10 gr.) starter
  • 1/2 cup( 100 gr.) water
  • 1/3 heaping cup (50 gr) whole wheat or spelt flour ( unbleached all-purpose flour is good as well)

Why refresh starter? So the bacteria may flourish. The larger the numbers, stronger the starter, higher and faster your bread will rise

Biga: 

  • 25 gr. starter
  • 25gr. bread flour
  • 25 gr. whole wheat flour
  • 50gr. water

Mix all well together and let it proof= double in size ( in my ☀️ kitchen window was about 4.5 hours)

Note: keep the biga and the  dough always, after every step, covered with a lid or wet towel.

upper photos: biga just mixed
bottom photos: biga after 4.5 hours, doubled and bubbly

Dough

  • 343 gr. bread flour
  • 76 gr. whole wheat flour
  • 9 gr. salt
  • 328 gr. water => 70% hydration 

Mix the dry ingredients together, (right after you are done mixing up the biga). Add the water and quickly mix it with spoon or hand just as much to corporate the wet and dry ingredients together. Set a side to rest ( while the biga is doubling).  It is called leaven.

leaven on left photo: just mixed
leaven on right photo: after 4.5 hours moist and relaxed.

Now that the biga is doubled and nicely pockmarked with bubbles,  mix the rested leaven and 93 gr. of this bubbled biga together.

Rest the dough for 30 minutes.

Note: If at any point the dough is too sticky, hard to handle, wet your hands. No flour should be added, to keep the bread crumbs open and  light.

Stretch and Fold:

# 1 stretch and fold:

30 minutes rest

#2 stretch and fold…
30 minutes rest

Window pane test: almost there… stretchy but is still tearing 

#3 stretch and fold

Window pane test: If it is nice and elastic, it is done and ready. (Usually at this point is, if its still tearing a bit, 30 minutes rest, one more stretch and fold ).

After the last stretch and fold rest the dough for 2.5 hours

Pre-shaping the dough.

Using minimal amount of bread flour and a dough spatula, shaping it and making a surface tension (=prevents the dough spreading sideways and it will force the loaf to expend in the oven upward).

Rest the dough for 20 minutes covered.

Final shaping.

Repeat the same pre-shaping procedure. Sprinkle the top of the dough with rice flour ( has no gluten, the dough comes easy out from the form). Place the dough in, with face down. Tighten up the dough towards the middle. Sprinkle the edges with rice flour. 

Cover it, an in goes to the fridge over night.

Baking:

By the morning the dough is usually almost doubled in size. I leave it on the countertop to sit a bit more, at kitchen temperature ( 1/2-1 hours), not more though, so it would not over-rise, but it has to be doubled by now from the night before.

Preheat the oven, with the dutch oven and baking tray (for steam purpose) inside to 260c.

Flip the dough carefully  out from the form, face up (like a sandcastle) to a wetted parchment paper (to avoid the sharp creasing in the paper once is placed in to the dutch oven) . Sprinkle some wheat flour on the top of the dough (just to make it pretty, not essential) and score the dough one inch deep across the middle .The scoring is essential, so the bread will be able to open up, and rise properly in the oven.

Lift the dough carefully into the hot dutch oven by the four corners of the partchment. Bake it at 260 c for 20 minutes with the lid on.

Take the lid off. Pour water into the hot baking sheet that will generate steam. Now continue to bake without cover, at 230 c for an additional 25 -30 minutes. 

Thats it. Let it cool for few hours.