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I decided to make sourdough bread from my wild starter again this weekend. Last weekend the bread turned out fabulous, looking like this…

Beauty!

The taste was as amazing as it looked.  You can find the directions for having your own wild yeast starter here.  I am using the sourdough recipe from Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson, a most amazing book.  My sister lives near San Francisco so next time I’m visiting my plan is to go to the Tartine Bakery and taste his bread!  Anyway, I’ll write the list of ingredients first and then explain the process. This recipe is for two loaves.
Water – 700 grams plus 50 grams (warm water about 80 degrees F)
Leaven – 200 grams
Total flour is 1000 grams broken down into 900 grams white flour and 100 grams whole wheat flour.
Salt 20 grams.
Measuring everything is a bit of a pain but to do this properly you have to get the measurements right. A cup of flour can weigh different amounts depending on whether it’s packed into the cup etc.  So….I measure….and I think my cheap scale is not completely accurate. Oh well.
For the leaven…you use 1 Tb of your wild yeast starter and mix it with 200 grams 50/50 flour (half white, half whole wheat) and 200 grams warm water. Mix it together, cover and let sit overnight.  In the morning add 200 grams of the leaven (it will have grown and be bubbly) to the 700 grams of warm water, mix it up .  Add the 1000 grams of the flour, mix it by hand until there is no dry flour and cover and let sit for about 45 mins.  This rest period called the autolyse is super important as it allows the protein and starch in the flour to absorb water.

Don't be afraid to get your hand right in it!

After the rest period, add the 20 grams of salt and the remaining 50 grams of warm water and mix it with your hands again.  Now we wait.  The dough has to rise, called the bulk rise, for up to 4 hours.  This is to develop the flavor and strength in the dough.  Every half hour for the first 2 hours you have to turn the dough. This is in place of kneading.  Place the dough in a large bowl to rise, I used plastic. To turn it, you wet your hand so the dough doesn’t stick to it and grab the underside of the dough, stretch it over the top, then turn the bowl and do it again until all the dough has been stretched onto itself.  You will notice the texture of the dough change from the first time you do it to the last time. You can do it every hour for the last two hours but be very gentle at that point because you don’t want to press too much gas out of the dough.
 When the four hours or so is up, pull all the dough onto an unfloured work surface. Lightly flour the surface of the dough and cut into two pieces. Fold the cut side of the dough onto itself so that the flour stays on the outer surface of the dough or what will be the crust. You can flour your hands at this point to make it more manageable. Shape the dough into a round shape with your hands and a dough cutter. Let the rounds rest covered with a kitchen towel for about 30 mins. This is called the bench rest.
Now on to the final shaping and rising. This is my favorite part because you get to fold the dough. I love how it feels in my hands.  I made a video showing how to do it…
Now at this point the dough has to rest again and you have TWO choices really.  One is put it in a “basket” to rise for up to four hours. I used a plastic bowl, a kitchen towel and rice flour to keep it from sticking.

It needs a rest poor tired thing.

Or you can wrap it in plastic and put it in the fridge overnight to develop even more flavor!  I’m doing both versions since I have two loaves to work with and want to know if there is a taste difference or anything.  I use a cast iron Dutch Oven to bake the bread. The reason is that professional bakers use steam injected ovens to get that crispy crust and you can get a similar effect with a covered baking dish at home. I have a cast iron Dutch oven and it can withstand the heat needed.  You preheat the oven to 500 with the Dutch oven inside, cover and all.  After about 10 mins take it out of the oven and place the dougn inside, slash the top to allow the dough room to expand, otherwise it may split along the sides. Cover and place in the oven, reduce heat to 450 and bake 20 mins. After 20 mins remove the cover and bake another 20 mins.  The first loaf…

Lovely

Not quite as bursting as that first one but gorgeous nonetheless.  The second loaf came out of the fridge and I folded it right away and put it in a towel lined bowl, sprinkled with flour and let it rise for about  2 1/2 hours. I baked it the same way as the other, in the Dutch oven. Well actually Jason baked it!  And it looks gorgeous. It tastes a bit more sourdoughy (is that a word?) than the other one.
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