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WEEKDAY SOURDOUGH BREAD SCHEDULE
For those of us going to the office Monday-Friday, for those of us not having the luxury of working from home every day. For those of us who do not have time, but would love to make sourdough bread for all the good reasons. THERE IS HOPE, THERE IS A WAY 🙂
The beauty of making sourdough bread at home, is that we can make it as simple, or as “complicated” we want to to make it. Either way, the result will always be a loaf full of flavour, that everyone will enjoy.
recipe & SCHEDULE suitable in a warm kitchen (25°C / 77°F)
500 g bread flour
|7am (before work)||Prepare the levain|
|6pm (after work)||Mix water, starter, flour. Let rest on the counter for 1h|
|7pm||Add salt and remainder of water. Mix. Let rest on the counter for 1h|
|8pm||First stretch & fold. Let rest for 1h. Should you have the time, do a fold every 30min instead.|
|9pm||Second stretch & fold. Let rest for 1h. Should you have the time, do a fold every 30min instead.|
|10.30pm||Final shape. Dough goes in the banneton and in the fridge|
|6pm (or later)||Pre heat the oven. Score. Bake (directly from the fridge)|
THE PROCESS STEP BY STEP
Timings are indicative only, you might have to adjust it slightly depending on your work schedule.
7AM: PREPARE THE LEVAIN
In a jar or even a small bowl: add 10g starter, 40g water and 50g flour (1:4:5 feeding ratio) and stir well. Cover and let sit on the counter while you’re away. This will be used entirely to prepare your dough.
TIP! if your starter has not been fed for over a week, you might want to feed it the night before in a 1:4:4 ratio (10g starter + 40g water +40g flour), so that’s ripe/active by next morning. If your starter has been fed in the past few days, you can prepare the levain directly.
6PM: START Mixing the dough
To a bowl, add 330g water and the levain. Stir well (by hand or using a whisk or a spatula) until it dissolves. Add the 500g flour and mix until there is no dry flour and no visible lumps. I would mix for 5-6min. This marks the beginning of the bulk fermentation (first fermentation of the dough).
7PM: ADD 10G SALT + THE REmainder OF 20G WATER
It is important to refrain from using the entire quantity of water stated in the recipe at the first step. This is because different flours have different absorption rates. While you can add more water if needed at the end of the autolyse, you cannot take it back.
If the dough at this stage is rather liquid, refrain from adding more water to it. If it’s rather stiff, add the 20g water and mix it in together with the salt.
8PM: FIRST STRETCH & FOLD
You will perform 4 sets of stretch & folds, at 30 min intervals each. If you can’t be around your dough much, you can perform only 2 folds instead, at 1h intervals.
This a technique used during bulk fermentation to strengthen the dough, help with the development of the gluten network, equalising dough temperature and trapping little air into the dough. It also gives you the opportunity to check on the progress of the dough regularly
To do the fold, grab one side of the dough and pull it up by stretching it gently and then over itself. Repeat on the other three sides. This will be one set
Fold the dough 4 times in total = 4 sets at 30min intervals.
30 min after the last set, the dough should now be ready, feel lighter and airy. It will have risen (probably not doubled) and feel like a pillow.
If after the last fold the dough hasn’t moved much, give it another fold and wait another half an hour. This can happen especially in winter, when ambient temperature is lower. You may have to give a second extra fold or just leave it some more time to rest before pre-shaping. Especially in winter, the bulk fermentation should be longer (an extra 60-90min) to ensure the dough develops properly.
If it feels fragile and wobbly it has fermented too much. It can happen if too warm in the room, especially in summer.
TIP for a cool kitchen
If your kitchen is cooler, and the dough doesn’t move much in the 4-5h you’ve got in the evening to prepare the dough (and that’s all you’ve got really), here is an idea for the your next attempt. Use slightly more levain in the recipe – using more levain speeds up the fermentation, and your dough will ferment quicker and be ready sooner for fridge time. To prepare the levain use 15g starter + 50g water + 60g flour = 125g in total.
10PM (OR LATER IF YOU GIVE IT SOME EXTRA TIME): PRE-SHAPING TIME
It marks the end of bulk fermentation
Remove the dough from the bowl and shape it gently into a ball
First, bring all the sides of the dough in the middle, then flip it over, pulling it towards you. Repeat until you have a relatively tight ball
Dust it with a bit of flour (preferably rice flour), cover it with the kitchen towel and let rest for 30 min
The time between pre-shaping and final shaping is also called bench rest. This gives the chance for the dough to relax, so that you don’t tear it when giving the final shape.
Check this video for my pre shaping technique.
10.30PM (OR LATER IF YOU HAVE GIVEN EXTRA FOLDINGS DURING BULK FERMENTATION): FINAL SHAPE
Flour your banneton generously
Flip over the dough and repeat the above if you want to give it a round shape. Should you want to give it an oval shape, this video should be useful.
6PM PREHEAT THE OVEN AT 250°C / 480°F
If you use an oven stone or a dutch oven, please ensure these are placed in the oven during the pre-heat. Preheat for at least 30 min to ensure the dutch oven or stone reaches the desired temperature.
6.30PM SCORE THE DOUGH AND PUT IT IN THE OVEN
Using a dutch oven/iron cast pan
Bake for 20 min at 250°C / 480°F with the lid on. After 20 min remove the lid and bake for another 25min at 200°C / 390 °F
Using a baking stone/steel
Bake for 20 min at 230°C / 445°F, with steam. Release steam, bake for another 25-30 min at 200°C / 390°F, top – bottom setting. Avoid fan mode, as this might burn your loaf more than you would like
Unlike the iron cast pan or a dutch oven that holds in the steam released by the dough, when using a baking stone/steel you need to create the steam using some tricks:
- pour boiling water in a hot tray at the bottom of the oven, the wider the tray the better
- spray the dough with water just after placing it in the oven
- add ice cubes on the baking stone, next to the dough. Making sure the ice cubes are not getting into contact with the dough
TIP! Should you want to use some whole grain flour in your mix, remember to increase the amount of water. Should you do 100g whole grain flour and 400g bread flour, 375g water would be a good starting point. Otherwise, if the amount of water remains unchanged, you might end up with a stiff dough, difficult to handle.