A simple sourdough loaf – a good starting point for new bakers.
Modified from a recipe by Maurizio at http://www.theperfectloaf.com
40g White bread flour
40g Wholemeal flour
40g Sourdough starter
750g White bread flour
160g Wholemeal flour
All of the levain
Day 1, 8 am: in a jar (I use a pint glass), mix sourdough starter, flour and water. Mix well and leave in a warm place.
Day 1, 12 noon: mix the flour and water in a large bowl. Leave beside the levain in a warm place.
Day 1, 1 pm: spread the levain on top of the flour and water dough, then sprinkle the salt evenly on top. Dribble a small quantity of water just enough to wet the salt, then combine all well. Dump onto the counter and knead or slap/fold for 10 minutes.
Day 1, 1:15pm: leave dough in a warm place for 4 hours. Every half hour or so, stretch and fold* the dough, north, south, east, west.
* Stretch and fold: while still in the bowl get hands underneath the dough farthest away from you (north if the bowl was the dial of a compass). Lift, stretch the dough upwards and then fold towards you on top of itself. This incorporates air into the dough and builds elasticity. Turn bowl 180 degrees and repeat. In this way, complete stretch and fold north to south, south to north, east to west and west to east.
Day 1, 5:15pm: turn the dough out onto the counter and divide into two (a dough scraper may help with this). Shape into rounds and leave covered with a bowl for 20 minutes. Uncover and leave for a further 20 minutes. Sprinkle the top of the dough and some of the work surface with flour and using the dough scraper, quickly flip the dough so the top floured surface is on the floured work surface. With floured hands stretch into a rectangle and fold like a letter (top 1/3 down, bottom third up to cover the bottom layers. Turn the dough 90 degrees and letter fold again, top 1/3 down, bottom 1/3 up. With hands either side of the dough, spin it round, pushing under the dough a little with each stroke, developing a nicely domed, smoothly tensioned surface. Place rounds bottom up into floured bannetons (I used a colander or a sieve lined with a floured tea towel until I got a pair of bannetons) and place each banneton in a plastic bag, sealed. Place bagged bannetons into the fridge.
Day 2, 7 am: place dutch oven (I use a casserole dish) with lid on into the middle of the oven. Place baking stone on the oven rack approx 10 mm below the dutch oven/dish. Preheat oven to maximum temperature.
Day 2, 8am: pull one of the bannetons out of the fridge and turn the dough out onto a piece of grease proof paper. Score the dough by swiftly dragging a sharp knife (I use a thin carving knife, freshly sharpened) across the dough from the side to the centre, approx 1.5cm deep. Turn dough 45 degrees and repeat until you have 4 slices meeting in the centre of the loaf forming a cross. Holding the knife at a shallow angle to the dough increases the chance of a good ‘peel’ – the spread of the sliced area during baking.
Place dough (by grabbing the sides of the grease proof paper) into the casserole dish, replace lid and place into oven. Turn heat down to 245c and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, take off lid, turn down heat to 220c and bake for a further 25 minutes. Place on a cooling rack and repeat with the other banneton from the fridge.
If you can resist it, leave until fully cool before eating (although eating right away with poached or scrambled eggs is often too good to turn down). The crust will be it’s crackly best on the day of the bake. If the bread lasts longer than a few hours and when completely cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature. Bread will be good for a few days.