Recipe

DifficultyComplex

During the 2020 pandemic lockdown, the never-ending task of making sourdough to ensure the family had bread around (without the need to frequent a grocery store) became a defining aspect of the so-called new normal. Two mini-loaves every two or three days adds up to a lot of bread, a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, and an odd sort of legacy that will probably outlast the virus.

Yields24 Servings
Total Time1 hr 30 mins

Ingredients

 500 g flour
 360 g water (warm)
 12 g salt
 300 g sourdough starter, mother dough

Directions

Hour 0 (4pm)
1

Combine ingredients in a bowl, in order:

Warm water.

Salt.

Flour.

Starter.

To combine, I blend this into a loose, rough ball and cover on the counter to hydrate.

Hour 0.5 thru 1.5 (430 - 530pm)
2

Not so much kneading, but pulling and folding and stretching the dough every 15-30 minutes. By the end of this process it will form something of a cohesive ball as the gluten relaxes. The trick is to give the new dough enough time to hydrate, form a singular ball of dough, but not get on a runaway fermentation before you can get it into the fridge.

...in other words, cover and put it in the fridge. Go watch some TV. Sleep. Go to work. Run an ultramarathon. Your call.

Hour 14 (8am)
3

You can fridge ferment longer, multiple days if necessary -- in fact get it in there overnight and pull it out when it's convenient -- but let's call this a 24 hour bread and work from there. I usually overnight in the fridge, and in the morning pull the bowl out to warm up on the counter at room temperature for a couple hours before working again. The longer you fridge-ferment, the more "sourdough" your bread will taste... but more than three days is probably pushing it.

Hour 16 (10am)
4

Flour the counter-top and then by kneading gently, form the ball into either (a) one large ball for a dome loaf or (b) two equal oblong balls for two loaf pan-sized loafs. For a full sized dome loaf I flour the ball and then rest in a proofing basket, covered. For two loafs, I put parchment into two cast iron loaf pans and place one oblong ball in each, covered.

Proofing is subjective. This process can take 6 - 10 hours in my house depending on humidity, season, and room temperature. I give myself lots of lead time, and have sometimes found myself baking bread at 11pm because the proofing took so long. The dough will have at least doubled in size and will leave a small indent when poked gently with a finger (the poke test).

Hour 24 (4 pm)
5

If I've attempted a big, dome loaf (great for parties and dipping breads), my large cast iron dutch oven with a lid goes into the oven for a pre-heat. When my 475F oven (without convection) is hot, the dutch oven comes out, I roll the dough out of the basket, do a little quick slash with a sharp knife across the top, re-lid, and back in the oven for 30 minutes. At thirty minutes, the lid comes off and another 12-15 minutes is usually enough to brown and finish the loaf.

If I've tackled a double loaf (better for sandwiches and morning toast), both loaf pans with risen dough go directly, as is, uncovered, into the pre-heated 450-475F oven (without convection) for thirty minutes. No additional browning time required.

For both, watch carefully for the last 5 minutes of baking. It's a narrow window between deliciously brown and just plain old burnt like toast.

Cool on the counter for about an hour. Voila: Bread.

Ingredients

 500 g flour
 360 g water (warm)
 12 g salt
 300 g sourdough starter, mother dough

Directions

Hour 0 (4pm)
1

Combine ingredients in a bowl, in order:

Warm water.

Salt.

Flour.

Starter.

To combine, I blend this into a loose, rough ball and cover on the counter to hydrate.

Hour 0.5 thru 1.5 (430 - 530pm)
2

Not so much kneading, but pulling and folding and stretching the dough every 15-30 minutes. By the end of this process it will form something of a cohesive ball as the gluten relaxes. The trick is to give the new dough enough time to hydrate, form a singular ball of dough, but not get on a runaway fermentation before you can get it into the fridge.

...in other words, cover and put it in the fridge. Go watch some TV. Sleep. Go to work. Run an ultramarathon. Your call.

Hour 14 (8am)
3

You can fridge ferment longer, multiple days if necessary -- in fact get it in there overnight and pull it out when it's convenient -- but let's call this a 24 hour bread and work from there. I usually overnight in the fridge, and in the morning pull the bowl out to warm up on the counter at room temperature for a couple hours before working again. The longer you fridge-ferment, the more "sourdough" your bread will taste... but more than three days is probably pushing it.

Hour 16 (10am)
4

Flour the counter-top and then by kneading gently, form the ball into either (a) one large ball for a dome loaf or (b) two equal oblong balls for two loaf pan-sized loafs. For a full sized dome loaf I flour the ball and then rest in a proofing basket, covered. For two loafs, I put parchment into two cast iron loaf pans and place one oblong ball in each, covered.

Proofing is subjective. This process can take 6 - 10 hours in my house depending on humidity, season, and room temperature. I give myself lots of lead time, and have sometimes found myself baking bread at 11pm because the proofing took so long. The dough will have at least doubled in size and will leave a small indent when poked gently with a finger (the poke test).

Hour 24 (4 pm)
5

If I've attempted a big, dome loaf (great for parties and dipping breads), my large cast iron dutch oven with a lid goes into the oven for a pre-heat. When my 475F oven (without convection) is hot, the dutch oven comes out, I roll the dough out of the basket, do a little quick slash with a sharp knife across the top, re-lid, and back in the oven for 30 minutes. At thirty minutes, the lid comes off and another 12-15 minutes is usually enough to brown and finish the loaf.

If I've tackled a double loaf (better for sandwiches and morning toast), both loaf pans with risen dough go directly, as is, uncovered, into the pre-heated 450-475F oven (without convection) for thirty minutes. No additional browning time required.

For both, watch carefully for the last 5 minutes of baking. It's a narrow window between deliciously brown and just plain old burnt like toast.

Cool on the counter for about an hour. Voila: Bread.

Sourdough Bread

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