It's been months since I baked sourdough bread. And I also neglected to feed my starter for months and months until last week when I made waffles. I was certain it was dead but after waking it up just once, it proved to be stronger than ever before. So I decided it was time to try baking my version of the famous Tartine Bakery Country Bread using my sourdough starter instead of preparing a new one. The bread came out flavorful with a thin crispy crust and moist soft crumb. Although I'm happy with the flavor and texture, I'd have been happier with a more open crumb with large holes.
The bread takes 2 to 3 days to prepare; 2 days if you bake the loaf on the second day, 3 days if you choose to retard the dough in the refrigerator. Fermenting takes the whole day plus 45 minutes to bake. I suggest you start the second day very early in the morning.
great with salted butter
or duck liver pate
Sourdough Country Bread
1 tablespoon mature/active sourdough starter
40 grams bread flour
30 grams whole wheat flour
30 grams rye flour
100 grams 80°F warm spring water
325 grams spring water
400 grams all-purpose flour
100 grams whole wheat flour
100 grams prepared levain
2 teaspoons fine sea salt or kosher salt
25 grams spring water
- The night before baking, mix together levain ingredients in a small bowl or container. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave on the kitchen counter overnight.
- The next day, prepare the dough: Warm 325 grams water to 80°F. Place in a large rectangular container. Add 100 grams of the prepared levain and the flours. Mix with hand until all the flour is moistened. Cover with plastic film and let rest for 40 minutes.
- Warm the 25 gram water to 80°F. Sprinkle salt all over top of dough and then sprinkle with the water. Incorporate the salt and water by squeezing the dough with hand; dough will be sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a 75 - 80°F spot for 30 minutes.
- With wet hands, reach under the dough, stretch, and fold all sides, one side at a time, onto the top. Flip the dough with seams under, cover, and let rest, repeating stretch/fold/flip 3 more times every 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough ferment for 2 more hours. The dough should have risen and have small and large bubbles.
- Remove dough and transfer onto a board. Have some flour nearby and a metal scraper. With the metal scraper, fold the dough onto itself on all sides. Sprinkle some flour and repeat folding dough with the help of the metal scraper. [I just sprinkle some flour on top of dough and tuck under, one side at a time, until the dough is a little tacky but no longer sticky.] Shape into a ball and place seams sides up on a bowl lined with a smooth cloth generously sprinkled with rice flour. Place in a large clear plastic bag and let rise for 3 hours. Place oven rack on second to lowest position and put a large cast iron Dutch oven and its lid on the rack. 20 minutes into the third hour of rising, preheat oven to 500°F.
- Cut a round piece of parchment paper and place on top of risen dough. Flip onto a smallish peel. You can slash the dough before sliding into the hot Dutch oven or slash it once inside the pot. Put back the Dutch oven in the oven with the lid on. Reduce heat to 450°F and bake for 25 minutes. Place Dutch oven on stove top. Remove bread (be careful) from the pot, transfer onto the rack, and bake for another 20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.