The following recipe is based on Chad Robertson’s sourdough recipe from Tartine bakery. I have changed it a little to suit my timetable and to better complement the use of Woodstock’s wholegrain, stoneground flour. A really wet dough and long slow fermentation seems to work well with the wholegrain flour. The folding technique cuts out the need to knead, and it improves flavour. Baking the bread in a Dutch oven helps the bread to rise as it catches the steam released from the bread, which halts the formation of an air inhibiting crust. This is by no means the only way to bake bread with Woodstock flour, but it is my personal favourite.
- – 70g active starter
- – 650g wholegrain, stoneground, hard wheat flour
- – 600g warm water
- – 5g salt
Leaven: In the morning before you are aiming to bake the bread take 70g of active sourdough starter (I’ll be posting up a starter recipe soon!) and add 350g of flour and 370g of warm water. Mix this together in a bowl until it is a smooth wet paste with no flour lumps. Cover with a clean, damp tea towel and leave in a fairly warm room until lunchtime. By the middle of the day the paste should have increased in size and have plenty of bubbles in it. Some recipes suggest testing your leaven for readiness by placing a spoonful of it into some water – if it floats it is ready. Otherwise it might need some more time.
Autolyse: This is the when you will add the rest of your flour and water, but not the salt. This period of time allows fermentation to get a head start before you add the salt, which naturally slows down fermentation.
Add the remaining flour and water and mix together with your hands. It may help to wet your hands before sticking them into the dough. Once combined leave covered in warm place for anywhere between 30 minutes and a couple of hours. It is possible to put the dough in the fridge for this stage and leave for around 8 hours. However I generally only wait 1 hour.
Bulk fermentation: After the autolyse, add the salt by sprinkling over the top of the dough. Next take one edge of the dough and stretch it up, then fold it over itself. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat the fold. Fold 8 times and then leave for 30 minutes, or whenever you can next get back to it, and then stretch and fold again. After another 30 minutes fold again. Then fold every hour after that for about four hours. This stretching and folding develops the gluten, whilst retaining the flavourful gases building up in the dough.
Shaping: Prepare you proofing basket by sprinkling in flour or placing a very well floured tea towel in it. If you don’t have a basket a bowl will do the job.
When I make bread, I often cut about 200g of dough off at this point to put aside for English muffins. Take the rest of the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Again hands dipped in water might make things less sticky. Fold the bottom third of the dough up. Then fold in the sides and then top. Now roll the bottom over the top, so the seam is on the bottom. This shaping adds tension to the loaf and helps it to maintain its shape as it rises and cooks. Finally cup the loaf with your hands and rotate it, whilst retaining contact with the work surface. This action brings the loaf into nice round ball. Place your shaped ball of dough into the basket seam side up. Here is the video from Emily Salkeld that helped me to figure it out. Emily’s Instagram has some serious bread inspiration.
Leave the bread to rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or alternatively, and as I prefer to do, place it covered in the fridge overnight.
Cooking: Half an hour before cooking take the bread out of the fridge and preheat the oven and a Dutch oven, or any heavy oven proof dish with a tight fitting lid, to 250 degrees Celsius. Half an hour later, take the pot out of the oven and sprinkle flour or bran onto the base. Gently turn the loaf out into the pot and score the bread with a serrated knife or razor blade. Place on the lid and put in the oven for 20 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 220 degrees. After 10 minutes take the lid off the Dutch oven and bake for a further 20 – 30 minutes or until dark golden brown.
When you pull the loaf out of the oven it should sound hollow when tapped on the base. Also take the time to listen to the cooling loaf, which will crackle softly. This is a good sound. Also try to wait until your bread has cooled before cutting into it to examine your crumb.