As I followed his journey I kept nodding my head as I was on this same path when I inherited some sourdough starter at the beginning of our shelter-in-place orders in March.
Also "...no matter where grain was grown, if scarcity struck, people moved down the ladder of preference from refined flours to breads made with whole grains and then bran. Starvation was a constant motivator, as in Venice in 1585, when bakers resorted to chestnut and bean flours. Or in Sweden, when rye nödbröd (“emergency bread”) was made with lily roots, Icelandic moss, and rowan berries. When hunger beckoned, grape seeds, pine bark, clay, and often straw was mixed into dough, though the use of ground bones was likely a myth. Nothing was wasted. Stale bread was remilled and mixed into new loaves or made into porridges or puddings, or simply eaten, for descriptions exist of giant whole grain breads lasting six months or more" (pg. 132).
- 200 grams sourdough starter (recently fed with equal parts apple cider and rye flour)
- 300 grams warm water + 50 grams warm water
- 300 grams warm apple cider
- 800 grams all-purpose flour + more as needed
- 200 g rye flour
- 20 g salt
- rice flour for sprinkling in Dutch oven
- Also needed: banneton proofing baskets or bowls lined with floured tea towels, Dutch ovens
At the end of 40 minutes, pour in another 50 grams of warm water. Add in the 20 grams of salt and gently knead the dough until the water is completely absorbed. Now I start the folds: rotating 90 degrees four times every thirty minutes for 4 hours.
I run my hand under warm water, grab one side of the dough and pull from underneath, folding it over the top of the ball. Rotate the bowl 90 degrees and repeat. Rotate. Repeat. And a fourth time so that the bowl has completed a full circle.
By the end of the 4 hours, the dough should be billowy and increased in volume. Lightly flour a workspace and use a dough scraper to divide the dough ball in half. Transfer the dough balls to the work surface. Lightly flour the banneton or towel-lined bowl. I used a combination of all-purpose and rye for this loaf.
Now I repeat the folds, but with dry hands to shape the boules while creating tension in the top. Keep the floured side of the ball down and fold from top to bottom four times while rotating the dough. This keeps the sticky side inside.
Flip the ball over and work the dough into a tight round. Let stand for 15 minutes. Repeat three times.
After the third shaping, place the dough ball, rounded side down, in the floured banneton.
Now you proof. I typically put the dough in the fridge and leave it there till I'm ready to bake. For these boules, I left them in the fridge for 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the empty Dutch ovens (bottoms only) into the oven. When the oven reaches temperature - an in-oven thermometer is very, very helpful - let the oven stay at 500 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.
After the preheating, remove the Dutch ovens and reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Lightly flour the inside of the ovens with a sprinkling of rice flour. Gently pull the dough away from the sides of the banneton and invert into the Dutch oven.
Score the top with a knife or razor blades. I have even just snipped a few vents into the top with my kitchen shears.
Place the lid on the Dutch oven and return the pots carefully to the hot oven. Bake for 35 minutes.
After 35 minutes, carefully remove the lid and return the pots to the oven again. Bake for an additional 30 minutes.
The loaves should be firm and crunchy on the top, golden brown, and feel hollow when the bottom is tapped. Move the loaves to a wire rack and let cool for at least an hour before slicing! Enjoy.