- Tried & Tasted -

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

White Country Sourdough Boules

My first homemade whole wheat sourdough starter that I used to make last week whole wheat boules was fed for another week and this was what my 'pet' rewarded me with today.

I have also made another organic raisins sourdough starter, where I will be using it to make some whole wheat boules.

There was more activity in the starter and the use of an enamel pot as the baking vessel gave the bread a better oven spring compared to my last attempt. This bread experiment is so exciting and yielded delicious, healthy loaves

I do failed in baking up some of the breads but it is through these mistakes that I learn more about the old way of bread making and baking.

Mistakes such as using too much water (as flour from different places differ in moisture content) to form the dough, under proofing the dough before baking and not really knowing when my starter will peak after feeding it, as this will determine what time to form the dough. I will not deny that it did affect my sleep routine in the beginning. 

I will persist and try to get it right by letting nature takes it course, which can be rather challenging in our fast pace, instant world. It gets easier when I figured out the natural cycle of my starter and feeling my way through (using the sense of touch and smell) as to when to bake the bread. It will be an on going work in progress with every bread that I bake. The maiden voyage is always the toughest and was taught a lesson on patience. Good things comes to those who wait.

These white country boules smell wonderful right out of the oven. The smell of caramelized sugar, toasted nuts and coffee wafted through the kitchen. The blistery thin crust covered the moist, chewy, creamy and tangy tasting crumb. 

The loaves do take a lot of time to make, form and bake but I find the process very therapeutic and satisfying. It was all worth it when I see and smell them coming out of the oven.
Crumb shot - I was very glad to see an even distribution of different size holes in the crumb.

Thin blistery crust that gave the crunch

Be warn, it will take you almost 20 -24 hours to make, form and bake these boules.

White Country Boules (60.8% hydration)
304g filtered water [(A)281g + (B) 23g = 304g]
100g sourdough starter (mine was from the whole wheat starter)
450g organic bread flour
50g organic whole wheat flour
11g fine sea salt

Steps to boules:
  • In a large mixing bowl, mix the sourdough starter with 281g of filtered water.
  • Add in flours and stir until it forms a shaggy mass. The mixture need not be uniformly mixed. Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, sprinkle the salt and mix in the remaining water. Mix till a uniform dough is formed.
  • After a uniform dough is formed, stretch the dough by folding on itself. Grab the dough at 12 o'clock position, pull it upwards and fold it over itself at the 6 o'clock position. Turn the bowl 90 degrees and fold in the same manner, repeating the folds for a total of 4 times. Cover the bowl again and let the dough rest for 30 minutes then repeat the cycle every 30 minutes for 2 hours. 4 folds every 30 minutes for 2 hours. Wet your hands before the start of the fold so that the dough will not stick to your hands.
  • After 2 hours, completing the four sets of folds, divide the dough into 2 equal halves. Roll each half into a ball and let it sit on the counter covered with a damp cloth for 20 minutes.
  • To form the dough, take one of the dough and gently pull it into a rectangular shape. Fold the bottom half a little over the center of the rectangle. Grab the right side of the folded side and stretch it a little and fold it onto the center of the folded side. Repeat for the left side of the dough. Stretch the top end of the dough and fold it over to the bottom end of the dough and seal the dough. Using a tying shoe lace method, pull with your thumb and index fingers from the top end of the dough pieces of the dough and crisscross  them toward the center of the dough and working your way down to the bottom of the dough. Lastly, roll the dough like a Swiss roll onto itself and pinch the seam close and roll it onto itself on the tabletop to tighten the surface of the dough.(It would be better to watch a video on YouTube on 'how to form a sourdough boules')
  • Place the dough into a heavily floured round vessel, lined with a cloth and cover with a cling wrap and let it proof 8 - 10 hours or overnight in a refrigerator.
  • The next day, let the dough sit at room temperature for 4 hours. In the third hour, preheat the oven.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees C (500 F) for 1 hour. Place a enamel and a pizza stone into the oven as it is preheating. This will be the baking vessel that will hold in the steam generated from the bread while it is baking to create the thin crust on the bread. 
  • Be very careful at this stage, everything is extremely HOT. Use a pair of thick oven gloves to protect your hands.
  • Once the oven is preheated, turn your bread onto a pizza peel (I used the removal base of a tart pan) lined with baking paper. Use a sharp knife to score the surface of the dough. Very carefully take out the enamel pot from the oven and pulling the baking paper, slid the dough onto the pizza stone. Cover the dough with the enamel pot turned over to act as a cover and bake for 20 minutes. 
The bread is baking on the pizza stone over a piece of baking paper (this allow for easy transfer of the dough onto the stone) and covered with a preheated enamel pot. 

  • After 20 minutes, open the oven (be very careful as hot steam will rush out when you open the oven door) and remove the enamel pot leaving the bread on the pizza stone and reduce the temperature to 220 degrees C (425 F) and let the bread bake for another 10 - 15 minutes or till golden brown.
  • Once baked, transfer the bread very carefully to an elevated cooling rack to cool for at least 1 - 2 hours.
  • Return the enamel pot into the oven and increase temperature to 300 degree (500F) and let it preheat for 15 minutes before you proceed with the second loaf. Repeat the steps above to bake the second loaf.

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