Sourdough is a bread made by the fermentation of dough using wild lactobacillaceae and yeast. Lactic acid from fermentation imparts a sour taste and improves keeping qualities.
This is my recipe for making a starter, levain and young levain. You can use any three or a combination of all with Patti’s recipe.
- 350g flour *
- 275g water
- 100g culture **
- 7g salt
* Use flour that is high in gluten, like bread, strong or hard flour. You can also use high gluten whole wheat flour, but make sure to only use 85g of culture instead, and also note the bulk fermentation will be faster with whole wheat flour.
** Make sure your culture is mature before using. An easy test to determine its maturity is to carefully drop it in some water; if it floats it is ready to be used.
- In a medium size bowl mix together the flour and water by hand, making sure the flour is fully hydrated.
- Rest for 20 minutes, Add salt and culture.
- Mix by hand for 5 – 7 minutes, making sure the salt and culture are fully incorporated and the dough has structure, and smooth surface.
- Round up the dough and cover with plastic.
Your dough will start to ferment immediately after mixing.
During this time fold the dough every 20-30 minutes for the first 2 hours.
To fold the dough you need to take a side of the dough and fold it towards the center, repeat this motion on all sides of the dough until it starts to resist.
Wet your hands before folding so dough won’t stick to them.
Moving forward, fold gently at every remaining hour.
At this point, the dough should feel aerated, and will have increased in volume.
Try your best not to degas too much while you are folding.
Once the dough has doubled in size, (3-4 hours in total for bulk fermentation*) you will
then shape your dough.
* In warmer environments the bulk fermentation will be a shorter, and in colder temperatures the bulk fermentation will be longer.
Find a bowl 6-8” diameter, and 3” deep. If you don’t have a bowl this size ere on a size
Line bowl with a clean linen and allow the edges of the linen to overhang the bowl.
Lightly dust the linen with flour.
Turn the dough onto a lightly dusted work surface, keep the exposed dough un-floured.
Start to pull and pinch the sides into the centre.
The moisture in the dough should encourage the dough to stick to the center, if there is too much flour, it will not stick.
Continue this gesture until you have created a ball, that has tension, and ideally a smooth surface underneath.
Carefully transfer the shaped dough into the linen covered bowl, seam side up.
Loosely wrap up the dough with the overhung linen, and place in the fridge overnight.
Tip: You can check Youtube for videos on shaping a boule.
Preheat oven to 525ºF, place a Dutch oven with lid into oven.
Cut a piece of parchment roughly the size of your Dutch oven.
Once the oven is to temperature, pull your dough out of the fridge, and transfer the dough to the parchment, seam side down.
Using a sharp paring knife, score your loaf. Cut an X on the top of your dough.
Pull out the Dutch oven, and transfer the parchment into the Dutch oven.
Put the lid the Dutch oven and put back into oven.
After 20 min, take the lid off the Dutch oven and turn the temperature to 475ºF.
Continue baking for 20 – 25 min, or until the bread is a dark amber color.
Remove from oven, take loaf out of Dutch oven and place on cooling rack.