Update: Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to make this entire recipe in a KA Artisan stand mixer. It will not fit! Definitely half it.
Taking the plunge a couple weeks ago and cultivating a sourdough starter was quite the leap of faith. I wouldn't know until Day 15 whether it had the potential to leaven a real loaf of bread, let alone give me a slice of bread that had that appealingly sour taste to it. And when it hit Day 16, I had to make another big decision - what to bake?
Yield: 2 kg (four or five small, or two large, loaves)
- Mix/autolyse: 35 minutes
First fermentation: 2.5 hours
Divide, bench rest, and shape: 20 minutes
Proof: 2.5 hours (or 1.5 hours, then retard for 2 – 16 hours)
Bake: 35 minutes
- 900 g white flour
120 g whole rye flour
600 g water at about 74F
360 g ripe 100% hydration sourdough starter
23 g salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours, water, and starter on low speed until just combined, about one minute.
- Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
- Add the salt and continue mixing on low or medium speed until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. This should only take about 3 or 4 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled container (preferably a low, wide one so the dough can be folded without removing it from the container).
- Ferment at room temperature (72F – 76F) for 2.5 hours, with folds at 50 and 100 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into 400g – 500g pieces. I usually make four 400g loaves and refrigerate the rest to use for pizza dough later. Preshape the dough pieces into light balls.
- Sprinkle the balls lightly with flour, cover loosely with plastic, and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Shape into batards and place seam-side-up in a floured couche or linen-lined bannetons.
- Slip the couche or bannetons into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 2 – 2.5 hours. Alternatively, the loaves can be proofed for about 1.5 hours at room temperature, then refrigerated for 2 – 16 hours and baked directly out of the refrigerator; this will yield a tangier bread with a lovely, blistered crust.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 475F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
- Turn the proofed loaves onto a semolina-sprinkled peel or parchment. Slash each one with two overlapping cuts that are almost parallel to the long axis of the batard.
- Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 450F. For 400g loaves, bake for 12 minutes with steam, and another 15 – 18 minutes without steam. I leave the oven door cracked open a bit for the last 5 minutes of this time. The crust should be a deep brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 5 minutes longer, with the door ajar, to help them dry. Larger loaves will need to be baked longer.
- Cool on a wire rack. Don’t cut until the loaves are completely cool, if you can manage it!