- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 3+1/2 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup ground rye flour
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (black ones have slightly stronger aroma)
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
Here’s what I do:
- Mix everything except salt and oil until the dough comes together and leave it for 30 mins.
- Mix in the salt and oil, then gather the dough and continue to slap onto the counter followed by folding in half (the slap and fold technique) until a thin opaque film can be stretched from the dough between fingers. The hydration of this dough is roughly 80% so it will feel really wet and sloppy to start with. (You can also do this in a mixer or a bread maker or not bother at all. Without this step, the final bread will not be as “holey” but the taste will still be similar. Read this article if you are interested in dough gluten development.)
- Cover the dough in a large bowl and let the dough rise until at least doubled and very bubbly (around 8 hours for me, but this will depend on your climate and sourdough starter).
- Gently, scrap the dough out onto a well floured workbench. Run a rubber spatula under water then use it to scrap the sides of the bowl as you pour the dough out. This prevents the dough from getting degassed too much.
- Use wet hands to gently even the thickness of the dough out (don’t actually press it or flatten it). Then use a scrapper to fold the left third into the middle, followed by the right side, like folding a letter. (You may wish to watch the video in this article on shaping dough.)
- Shape your loaf into whatever shape you like, using more or less a folding motion rather than scrunching the dough. For example, keep on folding the sides into the middle will give you a round shape in the end. If you are really struggling with this step because the dough is really sloppy, scrap the dough into a mould and perhaps reading this article on gluten development will also help a little.
- Pinch the seams together and let it rise seam side down on a well floured wooden board, or seam side up in a well floured banneton or other mould. I use a cane basket lined with well floured cloth. Breathable moulds are better than metal or plastic to prevent dough sticking.
- Dust the top with plenty of flour and let it at least double in size. When the dough is ready to be baked, you should see the dough bounce back slowly when you indent it with your finger tip. This normally takes 2 hours for me. Preheat the oven to 250C prior to baking. Heat a pizza stone if you have one. Also put a tray on the lowest shelf and fill it with hot water.
- Transfer the dough onto a baking tray or a peel/paddle with the seam side down. Slash with a sharp knife so it’ll split into the pattern you desire. Spray it with water and put it into the oven. Reduce the oven to 220C and bake until the crust is lightly golden. Then reduce the oven to 180C to finish the baking. It’ll take roughly 1hr in total to bake through. To test for doneness, tap the bottom of the loaf and see if it sounds hollow. When it does, it’s done.
I’m planning on firing up Big Bill my clay oven again over the weekend and will try to put a video together to demonstrate shaping. I’m not an expert by all means but I’d like to share my semi-newbie perspective and hopefully help some of you starting out with baking high hydration sourdough breads.