So you can imagine my horror when I was told that I should start hand kneading my sourdough loaf. Okay, it’s more “stretch and fold” than kneading. But still, it involves dirtying my hands, and I don’t like that.
Anyway, thanks to the guidance of a fellow sourdough baker I met online, I have finally gotten a loaf with decent “oven spring”. It’s not perfect I know, but it is heartening to finally see some improvements. The recipe for the loaf is adapted from this, but, according to my guide, the most important part of sourdough baking is mastering the process. And, I still have a long way to go.
Makes one large loaf
340g bread flour
45g dark rye flour
150g levain (mature sourdough culture, 100% hydration)
1) The night before, mix all the ingredients except the levain together. Stir until a rough dough forms. Cover and allow to autolyse in the refrigerator.
2) Feed the levain to make sure it is in optimum condition the next day.
3) Add levain to the main dough and slowly knead to incorporate.
4) Allow to bulk at room temperature. Rest for an hour, the proceed to do a full stretch and fold every 30 to 45 minutes for at least 3 times.
5) When dough has about doubled in size, gently shape into a boule.
6) Sprinkle proofing basket generously with flour then gently place shaped boule into the basket, seam side up.
7) Final proof in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Dough is proofed when you stick a finger into the dough and the dough rises very slowly.
8) Preheat Dutch oven in convection oven at 240C.
9) Flip the dough onto a baking parchment, sprinkle with flour, then score as desired.
10) Carefully place the dough into the Dutch oven and spray some water.
11) Place lid on the Dutch oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 230C and bake for another 15 minutes. Finally, remove the lid of the Dutch oven and bake for the last 15 mins.
12) Allow to cool slightly before removing from oven and slice.
My sourdough guide advised me to do the entire process at room temperature (autolyse, bulk and final) in order to better understand the dough, but I simply couldn’t find an entire day to do that, hence the autolyse and final proof were refrigerated. Maybe one day I shall try that.