Saturday Sourdough

Saturday Sourdough

My Saturday Sourdough streamlines bread making so that you can enjoy the bread of your dreams with the least possible effort and the fewest ingredients. Because I am a little OCD, I have tested more than two dozen loaves to arrive at perfection.

This recipe assumes you are maintaining 4 ounces of refrigerated starter and baking once a week. I like Saturdays, but you can choose the day and twelve-hour intervals that work best for you!

  • SATURDAY SOURDOUGH
  • Makes: 1 Boule
  • Active Time: 0hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: Moderate
WHAT YOU NEED WHAT TO DO WHY
Friday Morning: Move your starter to room temperature; let it rest for 12 hours. This recipe assumes you are maintaining 4 ounces of refrigerated starter. The starter is more active after it warms up.
  Friday Night: Confirm your starter’s health by filling a small bowl with cool water and pouring in a drop of starter. If it floats, it is ready. In a 3-quart bowl, pour in 2 ounces starter; set aside. The “float test” indicates healthy aeration activity.
  • 1+ ounces water (chlorine and chloramine free)
  • 1+ ounces bread flour
Refresh the starter. Add water and flour to the starter to bring its weight back to 4 ounces. For example, if the container weighs 1 ounce, bring the container and the starter to a combined weight of 5 ounces. When refreshing, always make up the difference with equal parts of water and flour by weight. Stir all together until uniformly combined; cap and refrigerate to return the starter to its hibernation. Refrigerating starter directly after feeding provides sustenance during hibernation. Some starter is lost as it clings to the utensils during handling. If not replaced, the starter would slowly disappear.
  • 13 1/2 ounces cool tap water
  • 17 ounces bread flour
  • (up to 5 ounces can be whole wheat or rye)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Start the bread. The 2 ounces of starter in the bowl is now called leaven. Add water, flour, and salt to the leaven in the order listed; stir with a bamboo spoon until all the flour is absorbed. The dough will be a big, shaggy, sticky mess. Cover bowl with plastic, note the time, and let rest at room temperature until doubled (10-12 hours). Adding water first hydrates the leaven, promoting even mixing with the flour. Wild yeast develops much more slowly than baker’s yeast.
  • 2 tablespoons bread flour
Saturday Morning: Spread flour thickly across the workspace. With a silicone spatula, scrape the very wet dough out over the top. With a bench scraper, stretch and fold dough 10-12 times to create surface tension. Work opposite sides as you go. For example, 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, followed by 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock. The interior will be jiggly, and the overall shape will be round. This ball shape is called a boule. This dough is extremely sticky. A great deal of flour is required to prevent sticking. Folding, as opposed to kneading, preserves air pockets essential to an open crumb.
  • 2 tablespoons bread flour
    9-inch banneton (or mesh strainer linen-lined colander)

Dust banneton interior heavily with flour. Transfer boule, smooth side down, into the banneton, and cover with a linen cloth. This step guides the shape of the dough.

Position a rack in the lower fourth of the oven. Preheat a 5-quart cast iron Dutch oven, with its lid, to 450°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer). It will take about 30 minutes.

Only a thick coat will prevent this dough from sticking. Bannetons are breathable, allowing the dough exterior to dry out slightly for easy slashing. Preheating the Dutch oven promotes quick rising and even crust development.
  • 18×13-inch parchment, divided lengthwise
Uncover the boule, lay a cross of parchment over dough, invert a plate over the parchment, hold the banneton and plate together, and flip. Remove the banneton. With a sharp knife, swiftly score the top of the dough in a square or cross pattern. Grasp the parchment handles to transfer the boule into the hot Dutch oven; cover. Bake 30 minutes; uncover to finish baking. A shallow score (1/8-inch) allows the developing crust to break open in a controlled way to maximize oven spring. Covering the first 30 minutes traps steam, which is essential for developing a crispy, deep amber crust.
  Continue baking until deeply amber with crusty, almost burn edges around the scoring (30-35 minutes). Crust development is a sign of a great artisan loaf.