Sourdough Diaries | My Best Loaf Yet

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It’s really satisfying when everything lines up and I pull a loaf from the oven that both looks and tastes how I want it to. This loaf is a 70% hydration loaf, using M&S bread flour. The flour I buy is the green bag flour from M&S. It is the same price per 100g as other supermarkets’ own brand flours, but has a higher protein percentage and so is my preferred flour for baking sourdough. The higher protein level in the flour means I can get away with a 70% hydration loaf, whereas when I bake with Co-op or Tesco or Morrisons’ flours, I can only push the hydration to 65% before the dough loses its strength and turns to goo.

400g strong white bread flour

250g warm water

10g (2 tsps) coarse salt

200g ripe starter (fed to maintain 100% hydration or 1:1 flour to water feeds)

I use a lot of starter in my dough at the moment because my kitchen is cold. Once the weather warms up I might drop my starter back down to 20% bulk flour weight and adjust the other weights to maintain a 70% hydration dough. I started mixing the dough yesterday evening at about 6pm, folding it regularly as it developed strength. I then shaped it and left it for an overnight rise in a banneton in my fridge, covered with a tea towel. I baked it this morning at 10am.

I have been baking my sourdough in a lidded pyrex dish which has helped with oven spring, but I have been getting quite frustrated with my bread cracking and opening in the wrong place, despite my scoring. This morning I tried spraying the main opening slash with water from a spray bottle before putting the lid on the dish and putting the dish in the oven, and it really helped. The bread opened exactly where I wanted it to open, and gave me a nice ear. It’s a simple little extra step and means that I don’t lose the contrast dusting because I am just spraying the opening slash, and not the whole loaf.

25 minutes at 225C, lid closed then 25 minutes at 180C with the lid off and a dish of boiling water on the lower shelf. I don’t wait for the oven to be up to full temperature before baking because I feel terribly guilty about heating an empty oven, so I tend to put the oven on whilst I’m scoring and preparing the dough and then put the dough in to a warm oven instead.

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