Sourdough Bread Baking, a sourdough bread making support group I am a member of on Facebook started a new baking challenge in the beginning of April. Each month, the page admins will choose a new group bake, participation is not mandatory but is a fun exercise meant to both teach new techniques and challenge members to try something new.
This month's challenge was a to create a plain sourdough boule made with all-purpose flour. The admins supply a recipe that participants should follow, this helps the group observe how different factors affect sourdough bread (climate, equipment, ingredients, etc.).
If you have a Facebook account I highly suggest joining one of these groups, they are open to both beginner and expert bakers. Whether actively participate or just lurk, I guarantee you will learn something that will help improve your baking. It's also a great source of inspiration and will show you all the things that are possible with sourdough. Member are always supportive, and are more than willing to answer questions or provide encouragement.
I recently completed the challenge and wanted to share the results here on my blog. The recipe the admins provided is very easy to follow and made with simple ingredients that can be found in everyone's pantry. It is also a fairly low hydration (75%), so the dough is really manageable and great for beginners.
To start off I'll list some of some of the variables unique to my bake:
Place: Las Vegas, NV (hot and dry climate)
Starter age: 7 months
Equipment: Lodge 5 Quart Dutch Oven
Flour: Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour
Salt: Hawaiian Sea Salt
The original recipe, which you can find here, differs in a number of ways to my own so I was really excited to try it out to see how these variations formula and technique could improve my bake. It's also extremely rare for me to make bread with only 1 type of flour, most of my bakes include at least some portion of whole wheat, since I regularly maintain my starter with Azure Standard EX-85 Bread Flour. Creating my levain with 100% all-purpose flour gave it a really sweet smell that was very reminiscent of commercial yeast.
Now onto the recipe!
|44 grams||All-purpose flour||100%|
|431 grams||All-purpose flour||100%|
Create your levain approximately 8 hours before you are ready to make your dough.
I think I used my levain at about 12 hours. It was still bubbly, about tripled in size and still smelled sweet.
In a large bowl, combine flour, water and starter in the autolyse section. Mix with your hand or spatula until everything is incorporated and resembles a shaggy dough.
The dough was really sticky at this point, so it helps to wet your hand when mixing.
Cover with a plate, or wet tea towel and set aside for 40 minutes.
Normally, I do not include the starter in the autolyse but I wanted to follow this recipe as it was stated in the challenge.
After the rest period, add salt and additional 22 grams of water. Mix well to fully incorporate the salt into the dough.
Cover and set aside for an additional 40 minutes.
Stretch and Fold
Complete 3 to 4 sets of stretch and folds in 40 minute intervals.
Pick up the edge of the dough and pull it out and up as far as it will go, then fold this flap over the top. Turn bowl a quarter of the way and then repeat process 4 times.
This was a bit different from my normal process as I normally do a combination of slap and folds, and coil folds. I was a little nervous that this gentle folding wouldn't work enough gluten into my dough.
After your last fold cover dough and let rise for up to 8 hours.
Your proof could be shorter or longer than this, and depends on various environmental factors like the temperature in your kitchen. The recipe states it is better to cut this period short than to proof too long, and risk your dough deflating.
At the end of this period your dough should double in size with lots of big bubbles.
I let my dough bulk ferment for about 5 and half hours. This is the longest I've ever let my dough go at room temperature and I honestly might do this from now on. At the end of bulk my dough increased in size by 50% and felt like it was was full of large air bubbles.
Pour dough into a clean work surface. My dough was really sticky so I sprayed my surface with a little bit of water to stop the dough from sticking too much.
Form a flat square, and take each corner and fold it into the center. Turn dough over, seam-side down, spread a little bit of flour around the dough and cup the dough to form a boule.
Prepare your bannetons or place a floured tea towel inside a bowl.
At this point my dough was still really sticky. It also wasn't able to form a very strong smooth skin, and each time I attempted to form surface tension, my dough would tear. I didn't want to tear my dough too much so I did my best to form a smooth ball, then placed it into my tea towel-lined bowl with the seam-side up.
Wrap bowl plastic bag to prevent dough from drying out. Place bowl in the refrigerator and proof for at least 8 hours.
I let my dough proof for around 16 hours.
Preheat oven to 500 F / 260 C with Dutch Oven inside.
Take dough out of refrigerator, and score.
My dough felt really good at this point. Usually my dough pancakes immediately after I take it out of the bowl, but this dough kept its shape and felt like it had a really nice surface tension, in spite of the dough tearing when I was trying to shape it.
Place the dough into the Dutch Oven.
Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on.
I took the extra step of taking my loaf out of the Dutch oven and baking it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat and baking it for an additional 15 minutes.
Let cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before serving.
I'm so glad I did this group bake! I absolutely loved the results of my bake. My crumb was light and airy with evenly distributed bubbles through out. The loaf itself rose extremely well in the oven with tons of oven spring.
I definitely learned some new techniques that I will be incorporating into my sourdough baking process moving forward.
I really regret and apologize for not taking more photos during my process. I do hope I included enough details in my descriptions to describe my personal experience with this bake.
Please share this recipe if you enjoyed it! Follow me on Instagram @MakeItDough or like Make It Dough on Facebook for more sourdough and baking ideas. Remember to post a photo and tag me or use #makeitdough when you make this delicious recipe, so I can check out your bake!
It’s so interesting to read how other bakers go about their process. This method is practically what I do. I’ll have to look up one of these FB groups, it sounds like fun 🙂
Make It Dough says
You definitely should! I really liked this method and I think I'll stick to some of the methods I learned here. Check out these groups:
Perfect Sourdough - https://www.facebook.com/groups/perfectsourdough/
Sourdough Bread Baking - https://www.facebook.com/groups/SourdoughBreadBaking/