|This is what we aim for|
Here is the recipe:
1. Bread flour - 400gr - (There is 100gr of Flour in your starter which make the flour now 500gr)
2. Lukewarm water - 235gr - (There is 100gr of Water in your starter which make the water 335gr.)
3. Salt - 11gr.
4. Starter - 200gr
I know this is not the correct style of presenting a bread recipe but we are beginners and I am making it as easy as possible for any person to get a good bread.
And that is all you need to make a very special bread ... Flour, water, salt and natural yeast.
Now my advice to you is to weigh all these elements off before you start anything. Get your bowl ready and have a small dish with around 4 heaped tablespoons of flour in. Keep that on the side, you will dust your work surface and adjust your dough if need be.
I will now assume that you have everything measured out, your bowl is ready and you have a lid for it or cling wrap to cover it. Some people use a tea towel ... I don't like it because in warm climates a skin will form on your dough.
PS ... DO NOT ADD THE SALT.
Form a well in the middle of the flour and pour the Starter on. Take your time and scrape as much out of the container as you can. I usually measure my starter off in a measuring cup.
Now pour this rinse water in your bowl plus the balance of the water.
I use a big wooden spoon to mix and bring the dough together into a manageable consistency.
Chances are that your hand will be quite messed up. Use a metal spoon to scrape your hand as clean as possible and press the pieces into the dough ball.
That is it for now ... cover that bowl and let is stand for 60 minutes.
This is the AUTOLYSE Phase.
During this phase the "magic" will begin and you will be intrigued at what you will see in Phase 2.
Open your dough ... take a few seconds and look carefully at what you are seeing. That shaggy ball has now collapsed and spread over the bottom of your bowl, the surface should look shiny.
Set your timer for 8 minutes.
Dip your fingers in lukewarm water and loosen the dough at the 12 o' clock position. Work your hand in under the dough and now very gently lift and stretch upwards, do not tear it, and fold it over to the 6 o'clock position ... closest to your belly.
|Salt mixed in|
(This is the basis of the concept that is applied in the NO KNEAD Breads)
|Getting the dough manageable|
Continue with the Stretch and Fold (S&F) on each quarter ... total of 4 folds.
|Ready to knead|
Take one end and fold it over to the other and pinch again. Feel free to wet your fingers if the dough is too sticky.
|Testing the gluten|
|Beginning to stretch and fold|
You want to be able to stretch a piece of dough so that it becomes almost translucent before it tears.
Fold and form into a tight ball with a smooth stretched tight surface.
Place back into the bowl and cover. Set your timer for 30 minutes.
During this phase you will Stretch and Fold the dough on all four quarters every 30 minutes and do it 3 times.
|Dividing the dough|
Tip your dough onto a lightly floured work space. Decide on the size of your final bread and split the dough with a dough scraper or sharp knife. With this size of dough, I would suggest that for your first time, you split it in half. That gives you two decent size loaves and you can bake one after the other if you want to experiment with your oven and baking method.
Once you have divided your dough, fold and shape it loosely and leave on the bench for 10 minutes. This is called Bench rest. It gives the dough a chance to relax after the dividing.
|Shaped in a basket|
|Preparing for baking in a pot|
Dust you sheet pan with flour and semolina if you have it or cornmeal. (Mieliemeel) ... this will prevent it from sticking to the pan.
Place the shaved dough on the sheet and cover loosely with plastic to prevent drying out. You are now in the final proof phase.
This phase of final proofing is between 30 minutes and one hour, depending on temperature and humidity.
Now is the time to switch your oven on, 230C is what I aim for. My oven takes around 20 minutes to reach that temperature. By the time the oven is ready, the dough should also be ready. Keep an eye on the dough, you want it rise to 1 and 1/2 times it's original size. DO not over proof now because it might fall flat when you place it in the oven and have no power left to rise again in the oven.
Now is the final stage and you are close to the end.
Your oven should be ready at as close to 230C as you can get, your dough has puffed up nicely. Now you can get creative but it is all for the show ... spray the bread lightly with your spray bottle of water, slash a slit into the top of your dough with a very sharp blade. Do this by holding the blade at a slight angle, you want the slit go slightly at an angle in under the top and not a straight slit as if you want to remove the guts from the bread. Almost as if you want to peel a piece of the top off. Or you can leave the slashing out ... it is all for the looks. Later, when you are more experienced, you will play around with scoring.
Dust the top of the loaf with your flour filled shaker and put it into the oven. Be careful not to slam the pan because that will let your loaf deflate.
Close the oven door for 30 seconds and then open slightly and spray around 10 squirts of water into that hot oven. Do not be shy. The more the better. Close the door ... set your timer for 10 minutes and relax. I usually use this time to clean up and to get the bench ready for when the bread come out. You should get the aroma of baking bread soon.
On 10 minutes, open the door slightly ... be VERY CAREFUL ... there could be a lot of steam escaping. Spray a few more squirts into that oven ... the spraying is what builds the crust. Set your timer to 20 minutes. You need to keep an eye on that bread now, if you see it go very brown at around 15 minutes of total baking time, turn you oven down to 210C.
The bread might go through some serious or slight shape changes now, all depends on the strength of the yeast and the proofing. DO not panic .... everything is now out of your hands.
At around 25 minutes total baking time the bread should be ready. These time will vary from oven to oven and you need to get familiar with your oven. Fan driven ovens are hotter than normal ovens and you need to adjust for that. I work with a fan driven oven.
If you bake in a pot ... be sure to remove the lid after 15 minutes.
Take the bread out of the oven when it looks ready. You want a good dark crust. Pick the loaf up with a tea towel and knock the bottom ... it should sound hollow, if not ... back into the oven for 5 more minutes.
|Measuring internal temperature|
Well, that is it ... your sourdough bread is done ... alt hat is now left is to haul out the fresh butter and sink your teeth into it. If all went well, bread will never be the same to you.
This guide was written based on my own personal experience and I can assure you that for every step I have described, you will find dozens of pieces on the web where it is refuted, denied or rejected. That is unfortunately the nature of the sourdough beast. The most important part is that you understand the processes and get yourself familiar with it. Then you broaden your gathered wisdom and experiment and get innovative. No matter what is said or written, the basics are simply ... water, flour, salt and yeast ... and depending on the relationship and handling of the dough, you will get a wide variety of possible outcomes.
My mission is to encourage people to bake their own bread and do it by using the long fermentation and natural yeast way ... that is how our ancestors did it and they did not suffer from all the modern carbohydrate related ailments.
Enjoy your baking and cooking till I write another story.
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