Sourdough White & Rye Bread

Once you travel in the world of Sourdough… you should trade carefully as you can get engulfed in a vortex of many pitfalls. There are so many versions of sourdough recipes and methods out there. From building your starter to baking in a preheated cloche, I find it fascinating to read how scientists measure every component of a recipe; from measuring the water temperature to the room where they bake their fares. I have viewed countless videos on how to approach baking sourdough breads and at the end, I picked various tips from great bakers and made it my own. Rule #1… you cannot rush Sourdough bread making. It takes time to build a decent starter which is not too pungent and is solid enough to hold its shape, to a dough resting period; from overnight in the fridge to several hours on the kitchen counter. Rule #2… start with recipes which have a low hydration level as anything over 60% hydration can be quite challenging for a novice. Of course, the higher the water content, the better result you will get, but with many pitfalls along the way. The beautiful thing is that it does not cost a lot of money to make a loaf of bread and you can experiment with so many flour variations. The challenge is to replicate a loaf that resemble one you would buy in bakeries and that’s where you might get disappointed. I have learned that each loaf has its characteristics and one should learn from each bake. It can easily turn into an obsession, but my recommendation is once you find a good recipe, fine tune it, until you have a bread you can be proud of. This recipe below is rather simple and does not imply resting the bread overnight in the fridge or in the counter. You begin with a good starter and build your bread from there. The resting period is only 1.5 hour which makes it manageable during the day. It is a great recipe and makes for a very tasty loaf with just a hint of sourness and a good amount of salt. We typically slice the bread right after the cooling period and freeze it, so we have fresh bread toasts in the morning… By having it away from our sight… it also makes it a lot less tempting. Welcome to the sourdough underworld !

The night before baking – Make a levain
2 Tablespoons of Starter
110 Gr. Water
110 Gr. White flour – I use all purpose flour
Mix everything and cover loosely – Leave it on the kitchen counter overnight or at least 8 hours at room temperature.

The following morning
200 Gr. Levain
350 Gr. Water with 1 Tablespoon Yogurt – You can also use a mix of Buttermilk and Water and yogurt
600 Gr. Flour – I use a mix of 400 Gr. White flour + 200 Gr. Rye flour or Wholemeal flour or spelt. I find Rye gives it a great taste.
Mix and let the dough rest for 45 minutes – This is called Autolyse
After 45 minutes, sprinkle 10 Gr. Salt and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes – Either by hand or a stand mixer.
Cover the bowl for 40 minutes and fold & stretch the dough 8 times and let it rest for another 45 minutes.
Repeat a second time and see the dough changing and becoming a lot smoother.
Shape the dough in a ball and place in a bowl, banneton sprinkled with flour. Let it rest and rise for 1.5 hour.

In the meantime, preheat your oven at 225 Celsius with a baking stone in for a good hour –
You can also use a Cloche or a Cocotte with a lid.
Bake your bread for 45 minutes – 20 minutes with a lid on and 15-20 minutes without a lid to let the bread brown some more.
Many bakers leave the door open for a further 10 minutes to ensure the bread is very dark and crispy.

Here is a link to the recipe from a Czech baker – I modified some of the ingredients to make the dough easier to manage:

Tip du jour : I keep a Water spray bottle handy & just right after I have put in my bread, especially if left open, I spray 5-6 times to bring a good amount of steam in the oven. This helps the rise and will result in a very crispy bread.
When baked, I check the temperature which should be at 200 Fahrenheit – and turn off the oven. I leave the door ajar and keep the bread for an extra 10 minutes. The crust will become quite dark and crispy.
When the bread is rising, I cover the basket with a shower cap…. it works beautifully.

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