I travel as much as possible at home and abroad. I'm always ready for new experiences
Published May 23rd 2020
An impressive bread with layers of flavour
This is a recipe modified from master bread baker Lionel Vatinet. He provides many useful techniques and background on baking with sourdough starter (or levain), which will not be discussed here, but it is well worth checking out his books or youtube for more in-depth information on the science of bread.
The bread is not particularly difficult, but like all good breads, it does have a time investment. It will take a full day to create this bread and some technical knowledge, as well as access to a sourdough starter and some specialist tools (banneton, bread lame, scraper, oven stone). I didn't have all of the bread tools available, so I provide alternatives in the method below. As we are all stuck at home for the moment, perhaps there is greater capacity to invest the time needed to make an excellent finished product.
This recipe uses sourdough starter instead of commercially available dry yeast. Here is an example from King Arthur Flour of how to make a starter if you don't already have one. Ensure the starter is fed and bubbly before using.
Combine the flour and salt. Combine the water and starter. Mix the water and starter into the flour mixture until a dough begins to form. I kneaded the dough for about 10 minutes until it became smooth.
At the end of one hour, place the dough on a floured surface. Press the dough gently into a square. Fold each corner into the centre of the dough, so it resembles a small parcel. Return the dough to the bowl, seam side down, and allow it to sit for another hour. Repeat the folding process at the end of the second hour. Return to the bowl and allow it to sit for one more hour (3 hours in total with 2 rounds of folding).
At the end of the third hour, shape the dough into a round loaf. Place the dough in a floured banneton (proofing basket) for 2.5 to 3 hours. I did not have a banneton available, so after shaping the dough, I returned it to the glass bowl for its final proofing stage.
Preheat oven to 230 C / 450 F. If you have it, add a baking stone to the oven 30 minutes before baking. To create steam, add lava rocks to the oven or a baking dish with water. A spray bottle filled with water and spritzed on the dough and into the oven before baking is also effective. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet or a parchment-lined bread peel if using an oven stone. Using a bread lame or razor blade, score the top of the dough. I scored the dough with two circles, but any design will do. My scoring of the bread didn't quite work out - it is important to be quick, decisive, and make the cuts deep enough. Mine were too shallow.