It all started here and here. First I saw a beautiful loaf of bread on Green Kitchen Stories blog, then I watched a Dutch oven bread video by Kinfolk which suddenly sparked a fire of curiosity inside. That was when I decided I finally had to give it a try. I have been thinking of baking sourdough bread many many times before, but I have never found the right inspiration.
Fast forward a few failures later, I'm proud to announce I finally baked the perfect loaf of bread! A few days before we went to our little vacation in Italy (you can expect a photo heavy blog post soon), I baked my third sourdough bread and I was happy with the result. Actually, I was more than happy. I felt like a child, dancing, jumping and clapping my hands.
I knew it was perfect the very moment I cut through the beautiful dark brown crust. First, the crackling sound of cutting into fresh bread that I absolutely love, then the aroma - there's nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread. The texture was just right, dense but soft with nice airy holes. All I needed was homemade butter! Bread and butter. The best combo ever.
I tried two different recipes and techniques before I found the perfect one that worked for me. I knew I wanted to bake dark bread. I love Scandinavian dark breads. Every time we travel to Finland I bring back a suitcase full of Finnish rye bread and freeze it.
Sourdough starter is obviously one essential ingredient of great bread. I grew my own rye sourdough starter (after a few failures). There's been so much written about growing your own starters already, so I'm not going to repeat what others already said. Instead, I can point you to some good sources like this one or this one. It's also useful to know how to maintain your starter once you get to that point. You will find very useful info here or here.
My bread was inspired by sourdough bread recipe on Wild Yeast blog. If there is anything you want to know about bread baking, you will find it there! I also plan to buy the Tartine Bread book. Not only it was photographed by one of my favourite photographers Eric Wolfinger but it also contains detailed step-by-step instructions and images illustrating the key steps of various techniques.
Yield 1 loaf (1kg)
387g strong bread flour
90g rye flour
240g rye sourdough starter
In a bowl, combine the starter and water. Add the flours and stir with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients come together. Cover and let the dough rest in the bowl for 30 minutes.
Add the salt and incorporate with your hands. Continue to knead the dough in the bowl for about 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, lightly dampen your hand with a little water. Cover and let it ferment at room temperature for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Fold the dough in the bowl. To fold the dough, gently lift one side of the dough, stretch it upward and fold a third toward the centre. Repeat the step with the opposite side of the dough. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat with other two sides (this video demonstrates how to fold a dough). This method helps to develop the gluten.
Cover and let the dough rest at room temperature for another 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Cover with a clean tea towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.
Place the formed loaf upside down into a floured banneton (rising basket) or a towel lined bowl heavily dusted with flour. Let the loaf proof at room temperature for 2-3 hours. You can also let it proof for 1 hour at room temperature and them place it in the fridge overnight and bake straight from the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 250℃ for at least 30 minutes to one hour before you are ready to bake. Place your Dutch oven or an oven proof dish with a lid in the oven. The dish must be very hot.
Take the dish out of the oven and sprinkle some flour on the bottom. Remove the bread from the bowl and put it in the baking dish. Slash the top of your bread, place the lid back on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Turn the heat down to 230℃. Remove the lid and bake for another 20-30 minutes, until dark brown.
Let the bread cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.