"Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you."
- John De Paola
So in our last week’s interaction we spoke about how to feed and take care of our babies… oh yes you heard it correct. I have seen my buddy bakers naming their starters. And I feel to some extend its correct. We feed them, we take care of them, we keep a constant watch on them and our happiness is beyond limits seeing it grow and mature….
So this week we shall havelook at the recipe or the further steps involved.
STEP #1: Mix the Dough
Once your baby starter is bubbly and active, you can mix the dough. To begin with, we will whisk the water, starter and olive oil together in a large bowl. Then, add the flour and salt. Squish the mixture together with your hands until the flour is fully absorbed. The dough will feel dry, and look rough and shaggy. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Make sure you are using metric scales for accurate measurements. A bread flour is always preferable than a all purpose flour or what we call Maida.
STEP #2: Autolyse
The next process is let your dough rest for about 30 minutes This process is called autolyse. It helps in making the dough much easier to handle and shape.
This is basically the first resting period after you mix the dough. This is the step which initiates the gluten formation without kneading. Strong gluten = good bread.This process can range from anywhere between 15 minutes to 1 hour depending upon the type of recipe you are following.
I prefer adding the salt after my first autolyse. As I feel that salt slows down the gluten formation.
STEP #3: Bulk Fermentation
After the resting shape the dough into a ball. It doesn’t have to be a perfect round. Now set it rest another time. Cover your bowl with cling wrap or a damp kitchen towel, and leave it in a warm place. This rise is known as ‘bulk fermentation’. This time when the dough rises it will be double in size. This process takes around 2-3 hours depending on the environment and the heat. Preferably keep it in warm place.
STEP #4: Shaping and Cutting
For this step divide, you workspace into 2 parts one lightly floured and the other clean . Remove the flour from the bowl and place it on the floured surface so that it doesn’t stick, shape it accordingly into a round .as you start shaping and folding the dough will automatically deflate.
Now move your dough to the clean section and use a knife to design and give cuts. Starting from the top, fold the dough toward the center. Give it a slight turn, and then fold over the next section of dough. Follow this until you have a nice round shape. Turn it to the seamless side using your hands, gently cup the sides of the dough and rotate it, using quarter turns in a circular motion. You can also pull it towards you to even out the shape. Follow the process till you are happy with the results.
STEP #5: Baking Vessel
This bread is an costly affair as it calls for little extra investment in a baking vessel called “Dutch Oven” .This pot traps in heat and moisture which is essential to baking good bread.
STEP #6: Let it Rest Again
Once the dough is shaped and placed in the pot let it rise again. Make sure this time you have dusted your vessel with enough cornmeal. Let it rest for around 30 mins to 1 hour. This resting makes the dough dense of course depending on the environment. Once the dough is up don’t forget to slash it with sharp knife.
STEP #7: Baking
Preheat your oven to 200-220 degree Celsius. Bake for 20 minutes with the covered lid. And then another 30-35 minutes without the lid until it goes golden brown.
So now you know why I said in my first post sour dough needs patience!!!