Weekend Sourdough Boule

Hiver 2018
food and drink

BY: Eshun Mott

While you can of course make sourdough any day of the week, you may find that it’s easiest to schedule if you pull your starter out of the fridge on Friday evening, feed it to reactivate it, leave it out at room temperature, then feed it again and form the bread on Saturday and bake your loaf first thing on Sunday morning. If you haven’t used your starter in a while you may need to give it several daily feedings before using.

50 g sourdough starter
100 g room-temperature water (about 75°F/24°C)
100 g whole-wheat flour

100 g mature (100% hydration) starter—ideally whole-wheat-based
320 g room-temperature water (about 5°F/24°C), divided
500 g white bread flour
12 g kosher salt

1. Friday night, remove starter from fridge, scrape into a clean bowl on a scale (scaled to zero) and discard all but 50 g. Add 100 g each room-temperature water and whole-wheat flour. Stir. Transfer to a glass jar. Loosely cover but do not seal jar; leave at room temperature overnight. Repeat the process on Saturday morning, and leave starter for 4 to 6 hours or until bubbly and active-looking and ready to make dough (put all but 100 g of the starter back in the fridge).

2. Pour 300 g room-temperature water into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl). Add starter to water and stir until dissolved in the water. Add bread flour and mix on low or by hand until all the flour has been incorporated. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand 1 hour at room temperature (this resting time is called autolyse and will help create a dough that is both more elastic and requires less kneading).

3. Combine remaining 20 g water with salt. Add to dough in the bowl and mix on low until the dough is uniform and sticky. Scrape dough into a clear bowl or container.

4. The next stage, called bulk fermentation, should last 3 to 4 hours, assuming a room temperature of about 75°F (24°C). If room is warmer or colder, you can compensate by mixing dough with warmer or colder water, or placing your dough in a warmer or cooler spot in your home, otherwise your bulk fermentation will take longer (or shorter, accordingly).

5. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let stand 30 minutes. Then uncover, dip your hand into the bowl, grab the underside of the dough, pull and stretch it up as high as you can, and fold it over the rest of the dough. Do this 4 times, turning your bowl and working with each side of dough as if it were a square. These 4 folds are considered 1 “turn” of the dough. Set the timer for 30 minutes again and repeat turn. Do this every half hour during the bulk fermentation phase, but handle the dough more gently as it begins to feel softer and more full of air. The turns are essential for creating the gluten structure. At the end of the bulk fermentation phase the dough should come away from the sides of the container easily when you do the turns and the folds left from a turn should keep their shape for a few minutes. The dough should have risen by 20 to 30 percent. If it hasn’t, continue to ferment dough for another 30 minutes to 1 hour.

6. Gently transfer the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. You want to incorporate the least amount of flour as possible during the shaping process. Fold the dough in half onto itself so that the flour on the surface of the dough is all sealed on the outside of the loaf, then (with lightly floured hands) gently work the dough into a round shape like you would round up a bun. You want the dough to be slightly attached to the surface as you rotate it as this builds the surface tension. By the end of the shaping, the dough should have a tight smooth outer surface. Let dough rest, covered with a floured cloth, for 20 to 30 minutes. The dough will relax and spread during this “bench rest” but it should still appear fat and rounded at the edges. If it becomes a thin pancake, it means that the dough isn’t developed enough yet, in which case round it up again and let it rest another 20 to 30 minutes.

7. To form the final shape, lightly flour the counter and flip the dough so that the rounded surface is down. Fold the third of the dough closest to you up and over the middle of the dough. Stretch out the dough horizontally to your right and fold this over the centre. Stretch the dough to your left and fold this third over the previous fold. Stretch out the third of the dough furthest from you and fold this over the previous folds and use your fingers to seal the dough together. Then turn the dough over so all the seams are on the bottom. Round up as you did initially to tighten the tension on the surface of the dough.

8. Place dough, seam-side up, in well-floured proofing basket (if you have rice flour on hand, mix it 50/50 with bread flour as it does a great job of keeping the dough from sticking to the basket), slide inside a plastic bag, blow in some air to keep the plastic from touching the dough and seal with a clip. Place in the fridge for 8 to 12 hours (alternatively you can let it rise 2 to 4 hours at room temperature, but the longer cold fermentation will produce the most flavourful result).

9. Preheat oven with Dutch oven/cast iron combo cooker at 500°F (260°C) for 30 minutes. Take dough out of fridge to warm up while oven is heating. Tip out dough onto a piece of parchment paper, dust the top lightly with flour and score top with razor. Trim paper, leaving yourself a “handle.” Remove lid from preheated pot and carefully slide in dough and parchment paper. Cover pot and return to oven, turn heat down to 450°F (232°C) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove lid from pot and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until crust is deeply caramelized and internal temperature has reached 200°F (93°C). Let cool fully on a rack before cutting.

Makes 1 boule