When I first started baking sourdough bread in a dutch oven, I would nervously drop the floured boule into the dutch oven, cautiously slash the loaf, cover the lid and slide the whole thing into the oven as quickly as possible. The first step in increasing my confidence in loading the bread into the oven was to use some very thick oven mitts. That worked great. However, when I saw people using parchment paper I was really happy to adopt this technique.
When I first decided to bake sourdough bread, I bought a round brotform and baked my first sourdough boule in our round, enameled dutch oven. Before attempting to bake sourdough bread, we used the dutch oven mainly for soups and stews. The dutch oven has been great so far, yielding consistent results with great oven spring and a nice crust. Boules are beautiful, but not the most convenient for sandwiches since the size of the sandwiches vary as you cut along the loaf. So, we got a long brotform (Thanks Dagi!) to make bread for sandwiches. However, it didn’t fit into our round dutch oven and trying to bake the oval loaf on a cookie sheet were not so successful. There was very little oven spring as we had a hard time introducing the steam at the start of the bake.
So we set out to solve it. Continue reading
My current sourdough recipe calls for 67% (baker’s percentage) of starter. As I’ve been doing more reading, I’ve noticed that a lot of recipes call for much less starter than I currently use. I looked through ten different recipes, and found that for doughs with hydration levels around 80% (blue dots), bakers used ~ 25% of starter. For doughs that had around 65% hydration (orange dots), bakers used ~35% of starter. In contrast, my current recipe (red diamond) calls for 67%!!
Here’s a recipe and checklist I use when baking sourdough bread. I made the process flow diagram based on the instructions from a Stella video. I’ve made this loaf many times now – it’s easy and gets consistent results every time. I like having a printout every time I bake so that I can document the date, temperature and the time it takes for each step.
Feel free to download a printable copy.
There are loads of books and blog posts that detail the “proper” way to maintain a sourdough starter. However, I think the best way is one that works for your schedule. Here’s how I maintain my starter in an easy, practical way that fits into my schedule.
The person that gifted me my sourdough starter (Thanks Abbott!) suggested adding equal parts starter and new ingredients every 24 hours. The new ingredients are just flour and water. The flour I use is a mixture of King Arthur Flour (KAF) bread flour and whole wheat flour. To make refeeding easier, I keep a container of 50% bread flour and 50% whole wheat flour on the counter.