- 66g active sourdough starter at 100% hydration (about 2 tablespoons)
- 66g flour in the ratios you plan to use
- 66g water
- 650g water
- 900g flour (I do 25 - 40% wheat, rest bread or AP flour. 250g wheat is a good starter amount)
- 18g salt (or ~4 tsps)
This makes a 70% hydration, using bakers percentages. Once you get a handle on this hydration level, try making a 75% or 85% by increasing the water by 50g or 100g at this step.
- Large glass bowl
- Silicone Spatula
- Plastic wrap or shower cap
- Pastry scraper
- Bread proofing baskets or mixing bowls
- Large dutch oven
- Lame or sharp knife or blade
The timings I give are my example schedule, you can adjust based on your own needs.
- Day -1, Evening 6pm, Day 0, Morning 6am and Evening 6pm prepare starter:
If your starter is kept in the fridge normally, take it out 3 days before you want to have some baked bread. Feed it every 12 hours using 100% hydration (equal weights flour and water). You want at least 3 feedings to ensure it's active when you want to use it.
If your starter hasn't been in the fridge and is completely active the morning you want to use it, skip to step 2 below.
- Day 1, Morning 6am expand starter into a leaven:
If the starter has lots of bubbles this morning, you can begin working with it. If it looks lackluster or inactive, go back to day 0 and try again tomorrow.
Weigh 66g starter in a large glass bowl, then weigh in 66g water and 66g of flours. Mix well (I use a silicone spatula) until smooth and no flour clumps remain. Scrape the sides of the bowl, cover with the plastic wrap or shower cap, and let sit in a warm place, 70-80 degrees if possible.
The leaven should be very bubbly on the surface by now. Add the 650g water and stir gently to dissolve the starter. Then add your 900g of flour and mix thoroughly. It will probably be easier to mix with one hand than any spatula. At this point it will not feel like a cohesive dough. Trying to stretch the dough will just tear it, that's totally normal. Cover with the shower cap and place in the warm place for 30 mins to 1 hour. I use my oven with the light on, but be sure to check the temperature frequently as it may go over 80 degrees.
5:30-6pm stretch and fold to develop gluten:
Add the salt over the top of the dough and mix in by folding 10-20 times. Try to make sure there aren't any salt pockets left. This video is an excellent reference. The dough should have magically transformed into a much more dough-feeling consistency.
After this step, let the dough rest for 45 mins to an hour between stretch/folds. You should aim for at least 3 or 4 sets of 8-10 folds each and do around 3 hours of resting total.
Before each stretch/fold the dough will have relaxed to fill the bowl. As you stretch and when you've done 8-10 it will start to feel like it has real structure and stretch.
Do your last stretch/fold 30 minutes before your next step, below.
Check that your dough has some bubbles under the surface, they're probably large ones. Look at the underside of the bowl for small bubbles incorporated in the dough itself as well.
Here is a good video of the following pre-shaping steps.
Turn out the dough onto your work surface, and divide into two roughly equal halves using your pastry scraper. The dough should not be soupy and should easily separate without sticking too much to the scraper. Gently shape into rough balls, building just a bit of surface tension, with the scraper and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare your bread baskets or mixing bowls with kitchen towels by dusting with rice flour. This helps the dough to not stick while proofing.
10pm shaping, put in proofing baskets:
Do shaping as in the previous step, building more tension as you go. Try to not tear the surface, though! Once you've built enough tension, pick up the ball and place upside down into the proofing basket (seam side up). Seal the seams, and dust with some more rice flour. Cover with plastic wrap or shower caps. Place in fridge overnight.
- Day 2, Evening 5pm bake:
Place your dutch oven and lid in the oven (leave the lid partially askew or directly on the rack) and preheat oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes. You can either take the dough out before it's preheated or right before you want to put it in, it's your preference.
When oven is ready, prepare a 1' square of parchment paper on a small cutting board and turn the dough out onto the parchment paper. Quickly score the top of the loaf using your lame or blade. Transfer the parchment paper containing the dough into the dutch oven, cover, and put in oven for the following times:
Bake for 20 minutes at 500 degrees, keeping the lid on.
Turn down the heat to 450 for 10 minutes, but do not remove the lid. No peeking!
Remove lid and bake another 10+ minutes until crust is dark brown.
When you're happy with the crust, remove the dutch oven and carefully take out the bread. The parchment paper can help here. Transfer to a cooling rack and wait until the loaf is cooled to cut open.
You can bake the second loaf immediately after the first, allowing the oven and dutch oven to reheat to 500 for 20 minutes before putting in the second loaf, or you can leave the second loaf in the fridge and bake it the next day.