Is your leaven ready to use?
After feeding your leaven and storing on the counter it should ready for baking use at around 4 hours and will last to around 6-8 hours range. Personally, I usually feed the leaven before I go to bed on the night before and it is usually ready to go the next morning. If your kitchen is on the cooler side this may take a little bit longer. Additionally the leaven can be good to use after that time frame when it begins to fall after feeding, the process may take a little bit longer but it will yield a more of sour tasting bread. So when it comes to flavor think of the younger the leaven is the easier tasting it will be as it ages it gets more sour.
To be sure your leaven is ready to use for making a bread do a Float Test
1.) To do a float test, simply take a spoon full of the leaven and see if it floats in a glass of room temperature water(75°F - 80°F).
*Side note: If your leaven is on the older side and isn't floating, you can dump a little of the leaven out and add more flour and water to refresh it. After about an hour try the float test again.
Baking the Bread
1.) Add all the leaven to the 350g of water and disperce and mix with your hands until it's completly desolved in the water.
2.) Add both the bread & wheat flour to the mixture, and using a dough scraper or just your hands mix until it all comes together and no dry bits remain.
Let it rest with for 20 - 30 mins with a towel over it.
3.) After the resting period add the remaining 25g of room temp water(75°F - 80°F) and Salt. Mix together with the dough by squeezing it and folding the dough over on itself. It will break apart intially but keep working with it and it will start to come back together.
Transfer the dough into a contains that has some insolating ability, to keep the dough at at room temperature, a plastic container will work with the lid loosly on top or a thick glass bowl with a towel over will work as well.
4.) Let it rise for about 3 - 4 hours, turning the dough every half hour or so. Turning the dough involves wetting a hand and slipping it down one side of the dough. From there Gently pull from the bottom and fold it over the opposite side. Repeat 2 more times to turn 3 sides of the dough in total.
5.) The dough should have risen about 20-30% and be soft, light and billowy. Essentially it should feel airy and less dense as it was when we started this process. Pull out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and then fold the dough in half so that the four on the bottom seals the unfloured dough. Using a bench knife work the dough into a ball by pushing it in a direction of choosing. Almost like you're trying scoot the ball in a direction and turing it to the side.
*Side note: If your making enough for two loaves, after you pull out the dough on the counter and split it into two, and continue on with instructions one at a time.
Once the dough is in a nice taugth ball, lightly dust the top and let it rest for 20 - 30 minutes with a towel over it.
Once you come back it should look like it melted but still holding a shape.Now use the scraper flip it over it's time to fold. I'm going to try and describe this the best I can since I din't get the best pictures of it.
- From the botttom, pull the dough towards you and fold it over just under the top.
- Now stretch the left and right side and fold them over about 2/3 acrross, one side over the other
- Stretch from the top to the bottom
- Push and roll over the dough and gently form into ball
7.) Dust the proofing basket with rice flour, and using the bench scrapper get about halfway under the dough and while craddling it with the other hand. Turn it over on you hand, set aside the bench scraper and craddle with your other hand, and now place in a proofing basket. Let it rise for the final time about 3 - 4 hours at room temperature.
Want to take break or bake the bread in the morning? Instead of letting this sit at room temperature, lightly flour the dough and cover with a towel, and then place in the fridge for 8 - 12 hours
8.) Depending on where you're at in the final rise process, preheat the oven to 500°F with the cast iron dutch oven inside. It usually take my oven 45 minutes to an hour to get to that temperature. So I start preheating about 2 hours into the final rise.
9.) Once the oven is at temp take out the cast iron, and as gently as possible flip the dough into pan. Score the dough how you would like. Put the lid on the dutch oven and bake for 25min
10.) Remove the top of the cast iron(Be cautious of steam leaving when removing the lid) and leave the bread in the bottom half of the dutch oven inside the oven. Close the oven and lower the temperature to 450°F. Bake for an additional 20 - 25 minutes depending on how brown and crusty you want the exterier of the bread to be.
11.) Take it out of the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 45 minutes to hours. Shortly after you take it out of the oven you can hear it crackling.
Enjoy your sourdough!