Sourdough baking was a life changer in the kitchen. I have been baking sourdough breads with my own starter since the beginning of Covid and have not looked back. I has become a lifestyle.
I am amazed at how resilient the starter is. I am not one for babying it too much yet it springs back to life whenever I call for it. I have two starters on the go, one made with white flour, the other with a bit of rye that I added in the beginning. It was a “thing” to name the starters so I obliged and called mine Apollo and Artemis. Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, vegetation, purity and childbirth; Apollo was the god of archery, music, healing, and youth. Both were the children of Zeus and the beautiful Leta. Don’t you love Greek mythology?
The process of making a sourdough loaf is long. You begin at night, feeding your starter, then the next day form the dough and do a series of stretches and folds. At the end of that process you shape it, place in a banneton basket and proof overnight in the fridge. the following day, day 3, you can bake the loaves at a very hot oven. I bake mine in le Creuset dutch oven covered for the first 20 minutes, to allow the bread to rise and delay the formation of the crust. then I und\cover and bake for another 18 min or so. I get a beautiful loaf every time.
This is not maeant as a recipe for a beginner, there is no quick way aboiut it, you have to do your own research and trial and error and it’s good to take some classes. But if you already bake sourdough here is my method:
To make 2 smaller loaves:
400g white flour
200 g whole wheat
100g mixed flours: could be spelt, oat, rye, etc.
I do an autolyse of flours and water for about 2 hours.
Add the levain, mix well and let rest for 30 minutes.
Add salt, mix well.
45 min later do a laminate, stretching the dough over a wet counter and folding it back like a letter vertically and horizontally.
do 3-4 stretch and folds every 45-60 min until you get a good window pane, indication gluten development.
Divide the dough in half and loosely shap each into the desired shape. Cover and let rest 20 min.
Do the final shaping, creating a tight shape the best you can.
Place smooth side down in a banneton dusted with semolina or rice flour.
Dust the top, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.
The next day place two covered cast iron or enamelled cast iron casseroles in the oven and heat to 475F-500F. I bake mine at 475F convection.
When the oven reaches temperature let it heat for another 30 min, then bring out the loaves, turn them over onto a strip of parchment, dust with semolina and do your scoring.
Carefully lift with the parchment and place in the hot pot. cover and return to the oven.
Bake for 20 min covered, 18 min uncovered.
Remove from the pots and let rest until cooled. The crumb is better when it is allowed to rest.