May 11, 2012

The Simple Life

This is a really simple and basic sourdough loaf, partly whole wheat and partly white all-purpose flour. By letting it ferment for about 8 hours, we gave it plenty of time to develop its flavour. The result is superb: high complexity of flavours combined with an amazing structure and a pretty nice crust. The simple life is so enjoyable.

Speaking of crust, lately we have started to bake our loaves covered with a metal bowl for the first half hour of the baking time. We find that it works really nicely. In fact, it works a lot better than spraying water inside the hot oven. The bowl covering the loaf while it bakes keeps a lot of the moister inside and it helps with the development of a great crust.

The Secret:

240 gr ripe white sourdough culture (42 %)
300 gr all-purpose flour (54 %)
260 gr whole wheat flour (46 %)
360 gr water (64 %)
14 gr salt (2.5 %)

Mix your flour, water and the white sourdough culture; be sure to hydrate all of the flour but don't do any kneading yet. Let it sit for 30 minutes, then add the salt. Now the actual kneading can begin. Since the hydration is fairly high, we started out by kneading the dough in the bowl for about 5 minutes. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then transfer the dough on a flat surface and knead it again for approximately 5 minutes. Give it once more time to relax, then do the final kneading for 5 more minutes.

Once your dough is fully developed, put it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it and let it bulk ferment. After 2 hours give it a gentle stretch and fold in the bowl. Repeat this sequence twice, so that your dough gets at least 6 hours of fermenting and two stretch-and-folds. Shape the loaf and let it proof for one hour. Bake the proofed loaf for about 45 minutes in the preheated oven at 450 F.


  1. If the hydration of the sourdough is 100% than the hydration in the final dough is 70.5% and not 64%.
    Total amount of water = 120 + 360 = 480, total amount of flour = 120 + 300 + 260 = 680.
    480/680 x 100 = 70.5%

    1. You are absolutely correct. Thank you for pointing that out. The hydration in the final dough is indeed 70.5 %, and that is a pretty wet dough. I got a little carried away when writing the post and forgot to include the preferment in my final dough formula.

      Baker's math, this very useful tool, can get quite complicated when one starts working with more complex formulas. Once you have starters, soakers, mashes, etc. going into your final dough it all can get a little bit confusing.

      In fact, it is possible to write the same formula in two or three different ways, and all of them would be valid.

      More about baker's math/percentages in a future post. Cheers.