Everybody wants sour dough these days! Its a simple thing with only a few ingredients and done correctly is very satisfying but can also be very frustrating.
Here's how i make mine. Some Equipment you'll need ...
Sour dough baskets
Dutch oven or pizza stone - I've used the LODGE Dutch oven in this recipe but any deep cast iron one will work fine if it has a snug fitting lid. At the time of writing the Lodge one I used is unavailable, however here is a similar one..
A baking stone such as this one will also work well.... you will need to create some steam in the oven when baking your bread though - this can be done by having a tray of water under the stone for the first 20 minutes.
100g Strong flour
Mix all that together and leave covered at room temperature till the next day....Bubbles should start forming.
Next day dispose of half of what you have...yes, just get rid of it ! Then add 100g water and 100g Strong flour, cover and leave again till the next day.
Repeat this at least 4 more times... you want to see a consistent rise and fall.
The night before you want to make the dough "feed" it as above one more time to make the levain for the morning.
Next morning ......make the dough, your levain should be bubbly and float if you place a bit in water to test.
In a large bowl mix these two together and stir to disperse.
900g Strong White Flour
100g Whole Wheat flour
Using a bread scraper mix the flour into the liquid till just combined - then cover and leave it for 20 minutes to let the flour absorb the liquid.
Then add...20g salt and 30g water.
Using the scraper and your hand mix this all in well and start working the dough. Don't add more flour - if you have a Kitchnaid or similar you can work the dough using that with the dough hook attachment or you can continue working the dough by hand as shown below...
Have the dough turned out on the bench in front of you
Lift from the back
Pull and stretch upwards, slapping it back down on the bench.
As you slap it back down fold it over on itself in one swift movement.....continue doing this until it becomes less sticky. Use your bread scraper to bring all the loose sticky bits back in and form the dough into a neat ball.
Which ever method you choose, you should end up with a ball of dough that is elastic and smooth on the surface.
Now cover and leave for what is called the bulk rise....this will take about 3-4 hours depending on the temperature of your room.
During the bulk rise I like to give the dough a few 'turns'. Some would argue that this is not necessary if you have worked the dough sufficiently as described above, however it's something I like to do to help strengthen the dough.
To do a turn ....uncover the dough and using a wet hand to prevent sticking lift one "corner" of the dough from the bottom up and over on it's self being careful not to knock out too much of the air that has formed. Repeat for the other 4 "corners" of the dough. Cover and rest again. I do this 3 times over a four hour bulk rise.
Now the shaping .....
Using the scraper carefully turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench top.
It will fall out upside down, the downside will become the top of the loaf so keep that in mind whilst shaping.
Fold the edges of the dough up over itself to seal in the wet exposed underside then flip over so the floured top is now on top.
Divide the dough in half using the bread scraper.
Seal the new wet edge by pulling the top down and under.
Flip the dough over again so the top is face down and fold the dough .....starting on the sealed wet edge furthermost from you pull it up and fold over to the middle, then do the same with the left and right sides. Finally pull the side closest to you up and all the way over to the back, as you do this final fold roll the dough so the top is back on top again.
You should have two nice round dough's with rounded edges. Now cover and leave the two dough's for a 20 minute bench rest. This allows you to see the strength of the dough - after 20 minutes the edges should still be rounded, not flat and "dripping".
- Shaped, rounded edges
Once I have bench rested the dough's I flip back over and do the exact same folds as before the bench rest. This is the final shaping, after which they go into your bread baskets to develop and rise more.
2 - 3 hours of resting time in the basket is needed. Then place, covered in the fridge overnight ready to bake in the morning
I use a 50/50 mix of rice flour and corn flour to line my baskets, don't be shy with it, work it well into the liner or into the grooves of the basket if you are not using a liner.
This is the LODGE dutch oven I use when I don't have access to a steam convection oven. It works really well, sealing in the steam that naturally comes out of the dough as it bakes inside. For the first 20 minutes the dough is in effect steamed which allows it to expand and rise before the hard crust forms
So preheat the oven to the max, 250C and get the dutch oven heating up inside at least 30 minutes before you need it.
Taking the dough out of the fridge and the hot dutch oven out of your oven, carefully turn it out onto the shallow side, smooth over the flour with your hand then using your lame, score the dough as required.
A few simple slashes right down the center and either side is fine or, like the one here, take the lame horizontal and score all the way around which will allow it to expand well in the oven.
Place the deep lid of the pan over it and return to the oven for 20 minutes at 200C
Once your loaf has steamed remove the lid and return for another 15 minutes to develop the color and crust
When ready remove from the pan and allow to cool.
If all has gone well you will have a great looking loaf of sour dough with a blistered crust which is cracking or "singing" as it cools!