Every baker needs an all-purpose, go-to loaf in their repertoire. And if you’re new to sourdough, this is the perfect place to start. Because the dough rises while you’re asleep, you won’t be tempted to rush the process or check on it every five seconds to see if it’s ready. Have a look at the baker’s schedule, then make adjustments to suit your schedule.
- 50 g (1⁄4 cup) bubbly, active starter
- 350 g (11⁄3 cups plus 2 tbsp) warm water
- 500 g (4 cups plus 2 tbsp) bread flour
- 9 g (11⁄2 tsp) fine sea salt
- BAKER’S SCHEDULE
- Thursday–Saturday: Feed your starter until bubbly and active.
- Saturday Evening: Make the dough, and let rise overnight.
- Sunday Morning: Shape the dough, let rise again, score, and bake.
- MAKE THE DOUGH: In the evening, whisk the starter and water together in a large bowl with a fork. Add the flour and salt. Combine until a stiff dough forms, then finish mixing by hand to fully incorporate the our. The dough will feel dense and shaggy, and it will stick to your fingers as you go. Scrape o as much as you can. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Replenish your starter with fresh our and water, and store according to preference.
- After the dough has rested, work the mass into a fairly smooth ball. To do this, grab a portion of the dough and fold it over, pressing your fingertips into the center. Repeat, working your way around the dough until it begins to tighten, about 15 seconds.
- BULK RISE: Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rise overnight at room temperature. This will take about 8 to 10 hours at 70°F (21°C). The dough is ready when it no longer looks dense and has doubled in size.
- SHAPE: In the morning, coax the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. To shape it into a round, start at the top and fold the dough over toward the center. Turn the dough slightly and fold over the next section of dough. Repeat until you have come full circle. Flip the dough over and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, line an 8-inch (20-cm) bowl with a towel and dust with flour. With floured hands, gently cup the dough and pull it toward you in a circular motion to tighten its shape. Using a bench scraper, place the dough into the bowl, seam side up.
- SECOND RISE: Cover the bowl and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The dough is ready when it looks puffy and has risen slightly but has not yet doubled in size.
- Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). Cut a sheet of parchment paper to t the size of your baking pot, leaving enough excess around the sides to remove the bread.
- SCORE: Place the parchment over the dough and invert the bowl to release. Sprinkle the dough with our and gently rub the surface with your hands. Using the tip of a small, serrated knife or a razor blade, score the dough with the cross-cut pattern on page 195, or any way you’d like. Use the parchment to transfer the dough to the baking pot.
- BAKE: Bake the dough on the center rack for 20 minutes, covered. Remove the lid, and continue to bake for 30 minutes. Then, carefully remove the loaf from the pot and bake directly on the oven rack for the last 10 minutes to crisp the crust. When finished, transfer to a wire rack. Cool for 1 hour before slicing.
- Sourdough is best consumed on the same day it is baked. To maximize freshness, cool completely and store at room temperature in a plastic bag for up to 1 day.