Sourdough bread

Surdegsbröd

White sourdough bread made over 3 days

Surdegsbröd is becoming very popular in Sweden because the tangy flavour is irresistible and many people find it healthier and easier to digest than yeasted-bread.

A candle-lit bakery in Stockholm

Indeed, one Swedish company that specialises in sourdough, Fabrique, has been so successful that they now have outlets all over Stockholm. Incidentally, most of their bakeries are candlelit and have a few tables, so they are perfect for fika!

This recipe relies on refrigerating the dough a couple of times to improve the flavour and to make it easier to handle, although the obvious disadvantages of this method are that it takes three days before you get any bread and you need to find space for the dough in your fridge!

However, if you love good sourdough I recommend giving this recipe a try because I get consistently good results with it! John Duxbury

Summary

Recipe summary for a 3-day sourdough loaf

Tips

A nice bubbly sourdough starter made using rye flour, water and honey

• The key to success is to use a nice bubbly starter (leaven). For our recipe click here.

Some sourdough starter (leaven) floating in water

• Your sourdough starter should float if you drop some into water, but don't panic if it doesn't, so long as your starter is nice and bubbly.

Two oval sourdough loaves

• If you prefer smaller loaves, divide the dough into two before step 10 and reduce the baking time to about 40 minutes. (I think round 500 g loaves look too small, so I normally use oval bannetons for small loaves.) 

A selection of equipment used when baking sourdough bread

• For a guide to recommended sourdough baking equipment click here.

A bag of Gilchester's organic strong white flour

• Experiment with different flours until you find one you like as they alter the flavour, colour, crumb and crust. I tend to prefer organic, stoneground and unbleached flour, but it is a bit more expensive.
• The recipe below is based on using a stand-mixer, such as a kMix or a KitchenAid, but see the section at the bottom of the page if you intend to knead the dough by hand.
• Before handling dough, run your hands under some cold water to prevent your hands sticking to the dough too much.

Ingredients

Dough

150 g* sourdough starter (leaven)
325 g water at room temperature
400 g strong white flour (bread flour)
100 g strong wholemeal flour (whole wheat flour)
10 g sea salt
  oil

*All bread ingredients are normally measured in grams

For the banneton and before baking

2 tbsp flour, preferably dark rye
  semolina flour, polenta or baking parchment

Method using a stand-mixer

Preparation

1. The night before you want to mix your dough, prepare your starter (leaven) and pour 400g water into a jug to give it time to come to room temperature.

Day 1: mixing the dough

2. Fit the dough hook and splashguard to your stand-mixer. Add 150 g starter, 310 g of the water and the flours to the bowl of your stand-mixer and mix on the lowest speed for about 1 minute, until no flour remains. Cover with the splashguard and leave to rest for about 45 minutes.

3. Add 10 g (1½ tsp) of salt and the remaining 15 g (1 tbsp) of water to the dough and then knead it on a minimum speed for 13 minutes, then increase the speed to 2 (kMix) or 3 (KitchenAid) and knead for a further 7 minutes.

4. Lightly flour your worksurface and then empty out the dough and shape it into a ball.

5. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover the dough with clingfilm (plastic wrap) or a shower cap and leave to rise for 2-5 hours. (2 hours if your kitchen is hot (25°C/75°F) - 5 hours if your kitchen is cold (15°C/60°F).

6. Transfer the dough to a refrigerator and leave to chill for 12-24 hours.

Day 2: preparing the dough for a proving basket

Sourdough after being folded in a mixing bowl

7. Take the dough from your fridge and uncover it. Grab the underside of the dough furthest away from you with both hands and gently stretch it up and fold it over the rest of the dough. Rotate the bowl a quarter of a turn and repeat, then rotate another quarter of a turn and repeat again, so that you have stretched the dough three times. Cover the dough again and leave for 30 minutes.

8. Rotate the bowl a quarter of a turn again and repeat step 7 again, so now you have stretched the dough six times. Replace the cover and leave for another 30 minutes. (If you like nice big holes in your sourdough, repeat step 7 a couple more times.)

A lightly floured worksurface

9. Lightly flour the worksurface and then gently transfer the dough to the worksurface, trying not to knock the air out of the dough.

10. Using your hands and a dough scraper, form the dough into a hemisphere (if you are baking one large round loaf).

Shaping sourdough into a hemisphere

One way of forming the dough into a hemisphere is to do it in three steps:
a) gently pat the dough out into a circle,
b) sprinkle some flour onto your scraper and then use it to fold the dough into the centre eight times to create a very rough octagon, holding each fold in place with one hand as you do so,
c) quickly flip the dough over and finish rounding the dough with your hands, sprinkling a little flour on to the top of the dough (to prevent your hands sticking) and then smooth the surface.

Gently moving the dough from side to side to build up a taut surface

11. Move the dough slightly from side to side a few times to build up tension on the surface. When you have a taut smooth surface leave the dough uncovered for 15 minutes.

A proving basket sprinkled with rye flour

12. Brush a 1 kg banneton clean and then add 2 tablespoons of flour, preferably dark rye flour. Tip the basket around until the flour evenly coats the sides and bottom of the banneton.

13. Using your hand and a dough scraper, transfer the dough to the proving basket with the smooth (curved) side down. Cover the dough with a cloth (NOT plastic) and leave it to rest for about 3 hours at room temperature and then refrigerate it for 12-24 hours.

Day 3: baking

Professional sourdough bakers usually use stone ovens with steam regulators. Stone retains heat well, so that the dough heats up and rises quickly. Steam is very helpful in the initial baking stage, as it allows the dough to expand without drying, so that the crumb is nice and moist. For the final crisping of the crust the steam is released.

Unfortunately, most domestic ovens produce a dry heat and the temperature fluctuates too much, so the challenge for home bakers is to get as near as possible to the conditions in a professional baker's oven. The four most common solutions are outlined below, with instructions afterwards for each of the options.

a) Using a ceramic baking dome, such as a La Cloche or an Emile Henry Bread Cloche, as it retains heat well to give a good initial rise and it traps steam given off by the dough when the lid is in place. The lid is then removed for the final crisping. This is a good solution!
b) Using a baking/pizza stone and giving the oven a good spray with water once the dough is in the oven. This produces a nice steamy environment for the initial rise. The oven door can be opened to let the steam out for the final crisping.
c) Using a baking tray, spraying the oven with water once the dough is in the oven. (Essentially this is the same as b) above, but the dough doesn't get as much heat from a tray and so might not rise quite as much.)
d) Using a steam-combination oven with a baking stone on the bottom shelf. This is definitely the best solution for home bakers, albeit the most expensive!

14a) If you are using a baking dome, place it in a cold oven and heat it to 220ºC (425ºF, gas 7, fan 220ºC), which will probably take about 25 minutes. (Note that there is no temperature reduction necessary for a fan oven.)

14b) If you are using a baking stone, place it in a cold oven and heat it to 220ºC (425ºF, gas 7, fan 200ºC), which will probably take about 30 minutes.

14c) If you are using a baking tray, preheat your oven and tray to 220ºC (425ºF, gas 7, fan 200ºC), which will probably take about 15 minutes.

14d) If you are using a steam-combination oven with a baking stone, fill the water container, place the stone in the cold oven, turn the bread function on and set the temperature to 220ºC (425ºF). Leave for 30 minutes for the stone to get up to temperature, then turn on the steam at maximum intensity for 5 minutes.

The base of a baking dome sprinkled with semolina flour

15a) If you are using a baking dome, sprinkle a little semolina flour (or polenta) over the bottom when it is hot.

15b) If you are using a baking stone, dust a flat board with semolina flour (or polenta).

15c) If you using a baking tray, line the hot tray with baking parchment.

15d) If you are using a steam-combination oven, dust a flat board with semolina flour (or polenta).

Sourdough is scored to create an attractive finish

16. Take your dough out of the fridge, quickly turn it out of the banneton onto the base of your baking dome (or your board or baking tray) and, using a sharp knife, score the top in a pattern that you like. Do this as quickly as you can, holding your blade at an angle of about 45° and making the cuts about 3 mm (just over ⅛") deep.

17a) If you are using a baking dome, once the bread is in the oven turn the temperature down to 180°C (360°F) and bake with the dome in place for 40 minutes, then remove the dome and bake for another 10 minutes, until nicely browned or until the internal temperature reaches 96ºC (205ºF).

17b) If you are using a baking stone, give the top of your oven a good spray of water, quickly slide your dough onto to the baking stone, turn the temperature down to 200°C (400°F) and bake for about 35 minutes, then open the oven door to let the steam out and continue baking for another 10 minutes, until the loaf is nicely browned or until the internal temperature reaches 96°C (205°F).

17c) If you are using a baking tray, place the slashed dough in the oven and give the top of your oven a good spray of water. Bake for about 35 minutes and then open the oven door to let the steam out and continue baking for a further 10 minutes, until your bread is nicely browned or until the internal temperature reaches 96°C (205°F).

17d) If you are using a steam-combination oven, slide the dough onto the baking stone and leave the steam set at maximum intensity for 5 minutes, then turn off the steam and turn the oven temperature down to 200°C (400°F). After a further 30 minutes, open the oven door to let the steam escape and continue baking for another 5-10 minutes, until your bread is nicely browned or until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 96°C (205°F).

A loaf of baked white sourdough on a cooling rack

18. Leave the bread to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Method if kneading by hand

If you are kneading by hand, follow the recipe above but substitute steps 2 and 3 with the section below.

2. Add 150 g starter, 310 g of the water and the flours to a bowl and mix well for a couple of minutes until no flour remains. Cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap) or a shower cap and leave to rest for about 45 minutes.

3. Add 10 g (1½ tsp) of salt and the remaining 15 g (1 tbsp) of water to the dough and then knead well, using the heel of your hand, for 10 minutes. (You can do this in the bowl or on your worksurface.) Cover the dough again, wait 15 minutes and then knead the dough for a further 5 minutes.

Downloads

printer copy sb  printer version.pdf

Phone and tablet h32  phone & tablet version.pdf

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