I am a bit of a loner as far as blogging is concerned, rarely taking part of group events. But World Bread Day is special, and whenever I have a chance, I like to join the party started in 2006 by Zorra. This year (my third time participating) I share a sourdough loaf made with my friend Elaine’s starter, Star. It flew all the way from England and now lives quite comfortably in its new home in our kitchen in Kansas. A well-traveled starter! A few details made this bake quite special for me. Read on…
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
50 g active starter (at 100% hydration)
375 g water, room temperature
400 g bread flour
100 g whole-wheat flour
10 g salt
Mix all ingredients for the bread in a large bowl, making a shaggy mass. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Mix gently folding the dough a few times until smooth.
Allow it to ferment for 4 hours at room temperature, folding the dough 3 times during the four hours, no need to be precise about the spacing of folding cycles. Just make sure you fold it a few times. At the end of four hours, shape it either as a round ball or a batard.
Transfer to a well floured banneton, seam-side up, and place in the fridge overnight, 8 to 12 hours, longer if needed.
Next morning, heat the oven to 450 F. Invert the shaped loaf, still cold from the fridge over parchment paper. Dust the surface with a little flour (I added just a touch of cocoa powder to make it darker, but it’s not necessary). Score with a brand new razor blade.
Place in a cold Dutch oven, cover, and stick in the hot oven for 30 minutes with the lid on, and 15 more minutes with the lid off. Allow it to cool completely before slicing.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: With this bake, I finally felt I managed to shape a batard reasonably well. Most of my attempts in the past were epic failures. I also had never tried a more artistic scoring on a batard-shaped loaf. The central slashing perhaps a tad too enthusiastic, so the dough exploded more than expected.
First special thing about this bake: no discard of starter whatsoever. I followed Elaine’s method, and I must say it’s pretty amazing how well it works. I had about 60 g of starter in the fridge, sleeping in there for a full week. The morning of the bake, I took it straight from the fridge and added 40 g water + 40 g flour to it. Let it come to life at room temperature, by mid-afternoon it was bubble party in the container. So I just removed 50g needed for the bake and placed the rest back in the fridge. I’ve used this approach three weeks in a row, without refreshing the starter for two or three days and discarding most of it every time. The oven spring is impressive, and the bread does not taste more sour than usual. If you are concerned with waste this method is for you. Give it a go. I haven’t tried to keep the starter longer than 1 week in the fridge before using it, but it’s definitely worth experimenting with it.
Second special thing about the bake: shaped dough was placed in a COLD baking container. I cannot tell you how much I love this! I am so tired of juggling the super hot pot and lid, often burning my arm in the process. No more. When the oven is hot, you place the cold pot with the shaped bread inside, no need to add a bit of water for steam, nothing. It simply works, even with bread straight from the fridge. Excellent oven spring, as I mentioned before, and excellent crust texture. Elaine has been playing with cold pot, cold dough, in a cold oven that she turns on when she places the pot inside it. I doubt it would work for me, as my oven heats very slowly, but she’s been baking amazing loaves using this method. Stop by her site to learn more about her experiments.
I hope you have a chance to celebrate World’s Bread Day, either bay baking or enjoying a great loaf of bread. Zorra, thank your for organizing the event, I look forward to seeing the contributions coming from all over the world…
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