This is an amazingly easy sourdough recipe and turns out rustic looking delicious loaves. I learned this proofing method from the amazing bakers, Helene Johanssen and Rezene Berhene at the Brunkebergs Bagerei in Stockholm, Sweden. As ever, with sourdough you will have to adjust the flour and water quantities to be appropriate for your particular sourdough.
For the predough;
300 grams of refreshed white wheat sourdough
300 grams of white wheat flour
350 grams of warm water
For the dough:
The predough from above
200 grams of whole wheat flour
1200 grams of white wheat flour
1 package of instant yeast (or 14 grams of dried yeast that you first proof in a bit of warm water or 28 grams of fresh yeast that you crumble straight into the mix at this stage)
1 tablespoon of golden syrup, honey or corn syrup.
20 grams of salt
500-550 grams of water
Step One: Make a predough
In a big bowl, mix the refreshed sourdough with 300 grams of white flour and 350 grams of water. Cover and leave overnight on the counter.
Step Two: Make the dough
Add the predough and all of the ingredients together except the salt. Knead for 5 minutes and then add more water if you need it: the mixture should be thick and sticky. Don’t panic if it looks amazingly runny and not like bread dough you have never made before. Knead for another 3 minutes and then add the salt and knead for a final 2 minutes.
Take a plastic box – like a tupperware or something you can get at IKEA or your local hardware store – that has a tight fitting lid and is about 18 inches by 12 inches (45 cm by 30 cm) and be at least 3 inches (9 cm) deep. Pour 4 tablespoons of vegetable/rape seed/sunflower oil into it. You can use olive oil too but it will flavour the bread (not a bad thing if that is what you want). Wipe the inside of the box all over with the oil and then scrape in the dough. Push it down well with your knuckles or fingers and then fold it like this:
1. Take the end fathest away from you and stretch it and fold it to the middle of the dough. Take the end nearest to you and stretch it and fold it so it just overlaps with the first piece of folded dough. Pick the whole thing up, give it a quarter of a turn and lay it down again and then poke it with knuckles or fingertips so that it entirely fills the box. Cover it and let it rest for 30 minutes. Fold again. Let it rest for 30 minutes. Fold again. Cover it and put it in the fridge oavenight or for 24 hours. Check it after 12 hours or so. It rises vigorously and may try to escape the box. If it is threatening to escape the box, simply fold it and put it back. The point of folding is to get air into the dough. the point of pressing it down firmly with your fingertips or knuckles (the top of the dough should be well dimpled) is to make sure it does not rise too much.
2 hours before you want to bake it remove it from the fridge.
Fold a couple of times over the two hours.
Preheat the oven to 230 degrees centigrade.
Prepare a baking tray:
Put it in the oven to get it very hot. Just before you want to bake, remove it from the oven and sprinkle it liberally with polenta or fine grits OR line it with baking parchment.
Remove the bread from the box by gently tipping the entire box upside down over the work surface. Using a plastic scraper or a knife with a round end/pallette knife cut your bread into the shape you would like: long fat pieces that resemble ciabatta; long thin pieces that resemble baguettes, squares or buns – whatever you want. Place the loaves on the tray and dust them with flour before you put them in the oven.
Bake them for 10 minutes at 230 and then reduce the heat to 200 and bake for a further 30 minutes for big loaves or 20 minutes for smaller loaves/baguettes. The bread will sound hollow when tapped if it is done.