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First easy sourdough bread

As I am very often asked how to start making bread with sourdough, I will show you how to make your first sourdough bread, explaining in detail the what, the how and the why of every step of the sourdough bread making.  

Let’s start first with, WHY to bake sourdough bread? Why is sourdough bread so special? The answer is simple, because it is healthy, tastes and smells incredibly.

Unlike the yeast bread, sourdough bread requires more time and its making spreads over several hours or even days. The sourdough bacteria needs time to eat the sugars in your flour and this works also in your advantage in order to develop amazing flavors and to make more digestible and healthier bread. 

Sourdough bread making has the following successive phases: 

  • First, is the flour hydration, in a phase called autolyse

  • Then, when the sourdough starter is added, starts another phase called bulk or first fermentation

  • Then it follows a second phase of fermentation, known also as final fermentation that starts after the bread is shaped.

  • Then is the baking and

  • In the end, you let the bread to cool at room temperature.

The entire process takes almost one day, starting, lets say, Saturday at 2pm and putting the bread on the table for the Sunday’s lunch. However, only 30 to 45 minutes in total you’ll need to effectively dedicate from your time to make this bread.

Ingredients:

  • 150g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 300g water, at room temperature
  • 450g white wheat flour (12% protein content)
  • 9g salt

Directions: (please see more detailed steps in the video)

  1. [Day 1, Saturday, 14:00] Scaling. Start by scaling your ingredients using a balance and put them on the table to insure there is nothing forgotten.
  2. [Day 1, Saturday, 14:00] Mix water + flours. Mix only the flour with water until well combined. Do not knead at this stage, just insure there is no unincorporated dry flour resting in the bowl and that's it. I did the mixing manually but you can also do it with a standing mixer. I used water at room temperature at ~27ºC. You'll just need to cover the bowl with a lid, plastic bag, shower cap or just a plate to avoid the dough to dry at its surface.
  3. [Day 1 Saturday, 16:00] Sourdough starter + Salt. Add the preferment and salt over the dough and knead for 10 minutes.  You can add them both together or separately. After kneading, cover the dough and let the dough relax there for 30 minutes.
  4. [Day 1, Saturday, 16:30, 17:30, 18:30] Stretch and Fold. Do 3 sets of stretch and folds at one hour interval and let the dough to relax in the bowl covered in between. 
  5. [Day 1, Saturday, 19:30] Preshape. Flour lightly your board and your hands. Take the dough out of the bowl putting it face down on the board. Then stretch it gently in a squared shape avoiding to degas it too much. Fold it in 3 from the sides and roll it from the other direction. Seal the dough to keep it together. Then, the point is to create tension on its surface. This tension will keep your dough into one round piece and will allow you a nice scoring and oven spring. So, with your hands just lightly floured and with almost no flour on the board, rotate the dough with your hands, or push it gently towards you. But this is not the final shape and you need to let the dough rest again for half an hour. Cover it with a towel to avoid dryness on its surface.
  6. [Day 1, Saturday, 20:00] Shape the loaf on the lightly floured board with the same movements you ended the preshape. Then, you sprinkle the dough with flour as you need to place it face down in a banneton. You need to leave the dough to rise for one hour more at room temperature. After that you put it in the fridge. Verify that your fridge cools down at around 5ºC as at this temperature, the dough continues its proofing very very slowly overnight. 
  7. [Day 3, Sunday, 10:00] Score. The next day, when you are ready to bake, the first thing you need to do is to preheat your oven and your combo cooker at 270ºC. Sprinkle some semolina on and reverse it gently in the hot pan. With a razor blade fixed on a coffee stick score it with your desired pattern. Score it 1 to 2 cm deep and immediately put it in the oven.
  8. Bake. The loaf goes into the oven with the other tall part of the combo cooker on top. It is essential to close the pot so you can capture inside the steam released by the bread during cooking. This helps the dough to raise and it will give you a nice oven spring. The baking has two parts. First you bake it at 270ºC for 20 minutes. In this first part of baking the bread raises as much as it can. Then, you open your oven, remove the top of the combo cooker and here is your bread half cooked. Reduce the temperature to 220ºC and continue to bake for 25 minutes more.
  9. [Day 3, Sunday, 10:45] Cool. The bread needs to cool for at least 2 hours until it reaches the room temperature. The cooking process continues slowly even after taking the bread out of the oven, so this is why it is important to not skip this step and to resist cutting it too early. If you can, of course...
  10. [Day 3, Sunday, 12:45] Cut. Now is the big moment to see the crumb after cutting. Can you resist tasting it? 


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