Lesson Three: Making Bread Your Own
The bread we have been working with in our base recipe is based largely on White Strong Flour. This is because it is easier to get a good rise out of your bread at a hydration (water level) that is easy to handle.
As you become more experienced with sourdough, you may want to make different breads, using different flours and add ins to enhance your flavours.
One way to change the taste of your bread is to add in different flavours as you are stretching and folding the bread. Nuts, olives, onions and chocolate are all excellent additions to sourdough. I would normally add these in at the last stretch and fold before I shape my loaf. This means that they are worked through the bread, but won’t ferment too much alongside the sourdough - a lesson I learned the hard way after I added some wild garlic to a loaf at the beginning and by the time it baked, the leaves had pickled.
Mixing up Your Flours:
As you move more from white flours to wholemeal flours, bread tends to become more and more dense. This is because the flour itself absorbs more water. It also generally requires more fermentation as there is more for the yeast and bacteria to eat in a wholemeal flour. I find that I can easily add about 200g of any wholemeal flour in place of white in our base recipe and I will still get bread that is roughly the same quality as my base recipe. After about 200g, I will need to ensure a longer fermentation and a higher hydration to ensure that I get enough of a rise.
There isn’t a hard and fast rule to this though. As you change flours, you will need to begin to trust your eye on what looks and feels right for your bread. As a basis for every 50g of wholemeal flour I add after 200g, I add about 5g of additional water to my base recipe. For example, for a recipe that is 400g wholemeal flour, 250g white flour, I will add 20g of additional water (420g).
The payoff though is that wholemeal flours really bring out the sour flavour of your bread - the flour itself feeds more of the bacteria that produce a sour flavour and you can leave a loaf fermenting longer. In my experience, it’s better to follow a well tested recipe for wholemeal breads, rather than make up your own. The baker will have ensured that the recipe works and gets the desired consistency, rather than just stabbing in the dark.
Kat’s Super Sour Sourdough
This bread uses a higher hydration and multiple grains to push the boundaries of sourness. Fermented for 36 hours - I start it the evening of Day One and bake it the morning of day 3. It can be a bit sloppy to work with and you may not get the rise you often see with a lower hydration loaf, but really worth it for that sour sour kick.
275g white bread flour
100g whole wheat bread flour
100g rye flour
25g buckwheat flour
1. Mix flours, starter and water together. Let stand for 30 minutes.
2. Add salt and mix well.
3. Let stand on the counter for 3-4 hours, completing 3-4 stretch and folds in that time.
4. Shape and place in lined banneton.
5. Proof in refrigerator for 36-40 hours.
1. Place your dutch oven in the oven and heat the oven to its highest temperature.
2. When the oven has reached temp, place your baking parchment on top of your banneton, then the baking tray on top of that and flip your bread out of the banneton onto the tray. There is no need to remove your bread from the refrigerator prior to this, in fact it is easier to work with a cold loaf.
3. Score your bread using a knife or razor blade.
4. Slide the loaf into your hot dutch oven and put the lid on. Place it back in the oven and reduce the temperature to 220C. Bake for 40 minutes with the lid on. Remove the loaf from the dutch oven and bake for another 12 minutes or until the crust is brown.