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65% Hydration Sourdough Bread

Last week I baked a 75% hydration dough. Some time ago, I baked an 85% hydration dough. But for this bake, I tried 65%. This is very good hydration for easy dough handling. This makes it appropriate for any beginner to try it. As long as you read the signs the dough is giving to you, you'll know to bake at any hydration. Of course, this depends on the flour. A good quality flour will be very flexible at different levels of hydration. It will however have sweet spot hydration where it will perform at its best but this is for you to try. I find that the flour I used for these 3 bakes performs great between 65-75% hydration. 


I do not make a lot of bread at 65% hydration because I like better the 70-75% interval. This, of course, depends on the type of flour.

It is with pleasant surprise that I managed to bake a loaf at such low hydration and get a loaf with such an open crumb. For these loaves, I let the dough ferment to the extreme rise of 80% (maybe even +80%) and it was indeed a very risky job. But in the end, it performed exemplarily and I am very happy with the result.



Ingredients:

  • 175g sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 775g strong wheat flour (14% proteins) 
  • 100g spelt flour
  • 538g water
  • 18g salt 


Directions:

  1. [Day 1, Saturday, 8:00] Scaling. Start by scaling your ingredients using a balance and put them on the table to ensure that nothing is forgotten.
  2. Mix water + flours. Mix only the flours with water until well combined. Do not knead at this stage, just ensure there is no unincorporated dry flour resting in the bowl and that's it. I used warm water heated in the microwave for 1½ minutes. The exact temperature is not that important because, during the autolyse, it will arrive at the right temperature. For this recipe, the dough needs to stay during the resting periods at 28ºC. I actually set the bread proofer to 28ºC and kept the dough inside. However, due to the manipulation of the dough at room temperature, the dough temperature was around 25ºC.
  3. [Day 1 Saturday, 9:00] Sourdough starter. Add the preferment over the dough and mix by hand or with a standing mixer for 10 minutes.  After mixing, let the dough relax for 1½ hours.
  4. [Day 1 Saturday, 10:30] Salt. Add the salt and mix again for 5 minutes. Then, let the dough relax again for  1½ hours.
  5. [Day 1, Saturday, 12:00] Divide and Stretch and Fold. Take the dough out of the bowl put it on the slightly wet table board and divide it into 2. Stretch and fold each piece on the board and place them in squared glass bowls. Let them sit covered for 1 hour.
  6. [Day 1, Saturday, 13:00] Lamination. Take each piece out of the bowl and do the lamination. Let the dough rests covered for  1½ hours. 
  7. [Day 1, Saturday, 14:30] Coil fold 1. Start now a set of 3 coil folds performed straight in the bowls. Do the first coil fold set in each glass bowl and let them sit for 30 minutes.
  8. [Day 1, Saturday, 15:00] Coil fold 2.  Do a second set of coil folds in the glass bowls and let them sit for 1 hour.
  9. [Day 1, Saturday, 16:00] Coil fold 3. Do a third set of coil folds for each dough and let them sit for 1 hour.
  10. [Day 1, Saturday, 17:00] Shape the loaves on the lightly floured board. Place the dough face down into well-floured bannetons. Repeat the process for the second piece of dough. Let the bannetons still rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before placing them in the fridge overnight. 
  11. [Day 2, Sunday, 12:30] Score. Before scoring, you need to preheat the oven at 260ºC. I baked these loaves in a wood-fired oven but in a classical oven, you should follow basically the same temperature. Inside the oven, I also heat 2 Dutch ovens.
    Take the dough out from the fridge and reverse the banneton on baking paper. Score and decorate the bread as you like.  Immediately after, slide the loaves in the hot Dutch ovens. I also place a small ice cube inside to create more steam inside.
  12. Bake at 260ºC for 20 minutes with the lid on. After these 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake at a reduced temperature (~220ºC) for 20 minutes. In the wood-fired oven, the exact temperature is difficult to control, so during the bake, it went gradually down from 260ºC to 200ºC at the end of the bake.
  13. [Day 2, Sunday, 13:10] Cool. The bread needs to cool for at least 2 hours until it reaches 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...
  14. [Day 2, Sunday, 15:10] Cut. Now is the big moment to enjoy a slice of bread... 



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