With a crispy crust and a light, chewy centre, this sourdough is a favourite here at Sonora. Ideally we like to serve our sourdough fresh-baked every day, but if you find yourself with too much bread, you can easily par bake it and freeze it until needed. Simply bake until about 75% of the way done, cool, wrap it well, and freeze. When you need it, thaw and then bake for 5 minutes at 400°F, cool, and serve. You can use any wheat based wet sourdough starter, as there are a variety of ways to prepare one. Feel free to use any method you like. The longer it has been fermenting, the stronger it will be in both rise and flavour.
Makes 2 loaves
Preparation time: 2 hours, +5 hours rising time
Cooking time: 1 hour, including frying, toasting and glazing
Special equipment: Deep-fry thermometer
Planning ahead: Because of the long proofing time for the bread, I suggest starting this recipe in the early morning. Alternatively, start the night before and leave the dough in the refrigerator for the second proof. This will slow down the process so you can leave the dough until morning.
In a stand mixer, add bread flour, whole wheat flour, salt, sourdough starter, yeast, and honey, making sure the salt and yeast are not touching. Begin to blend on low speed with a dough hook and ¾ cup of water. When the dough has come together, stop the mixer and check consistency of dough: it should be a little bit sticky, not too wet and not dry. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until the texture is appropriate. Increase mixer speed to medium for 8 to 12 minutes, or until you can see gluten development when you stretch the dough. When it is ready, you should get a fairly thin 'window' when you stretch the dough in your hands, and the dough should decrease in stickiness when it is ready.
Turn the dough onto your board and shape into a ball with your hands. Place in a greased container and cover with plastic wrap. Rest in a warm area for 30 minutes. Turn dough onto a very lightly-oiled board and 'knock down' by pressing into a rough rectangle. Fold rectangle into thirds, and then tuck both ends under. Rewrap with plastic, and return to warm area for another 30 minutes. Repeat the folding process and proof for another 30 minutes.
Turn the dough onto your board and divide into two. Shape each piece into boules by gently flattening the dough, then tucking the sides into the middle. Turn the ball over so you have a smooth skin on the top. Using your hands, pull from the bottom of the ball to lightly tighten the skin. Cover boules with plastic and let rest on your bench for 20 minutes.
Prepare a large sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper or a bread silicone mat. Shape your boules into 'batons' by turning each piece over, skin-side down, and pressing gently into a small rectangle shape. Using the tips of your fingers, roll the top edge of the rectangle downwards into a tight cylinder, tucking in the sides as you roll. At the end of the roll, seal the ends by pressing with the heel of your hand. To make the baton longer, roll to the appropriate length. Place seam-side down on your baking sheet. Repeat with other loaf. Wrap the sheet in plastic and place in your fridge overnight.
About 2 to 4 hours before baking, pull the tray out of the fridge and let proof at room temperature until loaves feel puffed, as if they will collapse when pressed, but they still spring back. Lightly sprinkle some bread flour on the tops of the loaves and score the loaves with the sharpest knife you have, allowing the knife to sink in and do the work.Do not tear too deep into the loaves.
Preheat oven to 500°F. As you put the loaves in, spritz the oven with a squirt bottle full of water. This creates steam, and a better 'oven spring', which will give you the ideal crackly crust and lovely bubble structure inside the bread. Bake about 5 to 6 minutes, or until the crust develops a nice golden brown colour. Drop the oven to 375°F to allow the insides to finish baking, another 5 or 6 minutes. Keep a watchful eye so the bread does not burn at the high temperatures. Test the bread for doneness by tapping the bottom of the bread with fingertips: it should sound slightly hollow. If not, return to oven for another couple of minutes. As soon as you remove the bread from the oven, put on a rack and cool completely before slicing. At Sonora Resort, we serve sourdough loaves with a quenelle of New Zealand butter and a sprinkle of Maldon sea salt.
- 3 ¼ cups bread flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- ¾ - 1 cup water, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/3 cup wet sourdough starter
- 2 teaspoons fresh yeast
- 2 teaspoons honey