Recipes with a big time commitment, lots of ingredients, and many steps can intimidate. This recipe is the easiest I’ve tried.
Since I started this blog, a few folks have said that the recipes seem overwhelming, so I decided to try a simple bread with just two flours–bread flour and dark rye–and a short prep time. I started the prep work at 8:00 A.M., was done by 9:45, and then had the entire day to work on other projects before touching the dough again.
What you’ll need:
400 grams bread flour
100 grams dark rye flour
332 grams water
25 grams levain or mature starter
10 grams salt
COMBINE FLOUR AND WATER
Make your levain 4-6 hours prior to beginning, or to keep the recipe even simpler and just use 25 grams of mature starter.
Sloppy Baker’s Tip: You can tell starter is mature if it’s risen to its peak in its container. It usually has a slight dome on the surface. If you miss the perfect timing and use it a little before or after peak, it won’t have a dramatic affect on your bake.
In a bowl, combine 400 grams bread flour, 100 grams dark rye flour, 332 grams of water. Mix thoroughly with your hand until all the flour is incorporated. The result is a drier, stiff dough.
A lower hydration dough will look and feel stiff and dry.
Cover and rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
ADD LEVAIN AND SALT
After 30 minutes, add 25 grams of levain (or mature starter) and 10 grams of salt to the dough. Squeeze and pinch the dough until the levain and salt are incorporated and seem evenly distributed throughout the dough. It will take about five minutes.
Pinch the levain and salt into the dough until completely incorporated.
Sloppy Baker’s Tip: This recipe’s dough is quite stiff; you may find it takes some effort to get the levain and salt incorporated well. The levain tends to roll off the dough and gather at the bottom of the bowl. Keep working at it.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 15 minutes.
STRETCH-AND-FOLD FOUR TIMES
After 15 minutes, do a stretch-and-fold. Repeat three more times at fifteen-minute intervals.
After each stretch-and-fold the dough becomes more elastic and smooth.
COVER AND REST THE DOUGH
After four stretch-and-folds, shape the dough into a ball, put it back in the bowl, cover and let it rest for 10 hours at room temperature.
Sloppy Baker’s Tip: You won’t do anything with the dough during this time. Go for a bike ride, feed your chickens, or run errands. Do whatever you want. It’s one of the joys of this particular recipe.
Shape the dough into a ball and let rest covered at room temperature.
PRESHAPE AND SHAPE YOUR LOAF
After 10 hours of resting the dough, pour it onto a lightly floured surface. Preshape the dough into a boule, or round loaf.
Let the loaf rest uncovered for 15-30 minutes.
Lightly flour to top of the preshaped loaf and flip it so the flour side is down. Shape the loaf. Remember that this process is a little like forming an envelope. Grab the edge of the dough closest to you, gently stretch it toward you, and fold it up and over the loaf. Then stretch out the sides of the dough to make two wings. One at a time fold each wing over the top of the loaf. Then stretch the edge farthest from you, fold it over the top of the loaf, and then roll the loaf toward you so the seams are tucked underneath the loaf.
Using cupped hands, rotate the loaf on the counter to form a boule. As you rotate the dough, gently pull the dough toward you. The process will create a little tension across the surface of the loaf.
The shaping process
Leave the loaf on the counter for a moment. Line a medium (3 quart) bowl with a lint-free dish towel. Sprinkle a little flour or rice flour on the towel. Carefully pick up the loaf and place it bottom-side up in the bowl. Place the bowl inside a turkey roasting bag, making sure to keep enough air in the bag so it doesn’t rest against the dough.
Shaped loaves ready for overnight proofing.
Put the bowl with your loaf in the refrigerator to prove for 10-12 hours.
Since I started this recipe in the morning, I shaped my dough around 8:00 P.M. and then let the loaf prove overnight. The timing was perfect.
Place your Dutch oven in the oven and preheat your oven to 490 degrees. Allow to preheat at least 30 minutes.
While your oven is preheating, remove your loaf from the refrigerator. Stretch a piece of parchment paper across the bowl and turn it upside down so the loaf is resting right-side up on the paper.
Sloppy Baker’s Tip: You will notice that your loaf is more compact than others you may have made. There is a higher percentage of rye flour in this recipe. Rye is lower in gluten than wheat flour, so dough made with it does not have the elasticity needed to rise significantly. However, with this loaf you should still see a nice “oven spring,” when you bake.
Score the loaf with a shape knife or lame, or make a few snips with a pair of kitchen shears.
Remove the Dutch oven from the oven. Carefully place the parchment paper with the loaf on it in the Dutch oven. Spritz or brush a little water on the surface of the loaf.
After 20 minutes, you can see the oven spring.
Cover and bake at 490 degrees for 20 minutes, then lower the temperature to 450 degrees and uncover. Bake for another 20 minutes.
When the loaf is a rich caramel color, remove the loaf and let cool on a wire rack for at least two hours before cutting.
EAT AND ENJOY
The crumb on your loaf may be a little more close textured than some other sourdough you’ve had due to the higher portion of rye flour. It will also have a more robust, earthy flavor than your typical white/wheat blend. Slice and enjoy, then maybe share with others.
A darker, slightly denser crumb.