First thing I did on getting back from hols was to wake the sleeping sourdough and then set to. I was determined to produce a better loaf, despite the heat: over 30℃ in the kitchen by day, and nowhere else much cooler. Step one was to find a stronger flour. I’d always used Barilla 00, which is about 9% protein, because that’s what there was. And it worked fine during cooler weather. Now I needed something stronger. When I looked, there were two types of flour from Manitoba on the shelves, one at 12% and one at 13%. I went for the latter.

What a difference. I didn’t bother to photograph the dough, because it was just about what I was expecting. A bit sticky, perhaps, but that probably had more to do with the fact that I stretched and folded rather than kneading. And the spiffy new silicone coated scraper I scored at Sur la Table was really good. A useful tool.

The details. Starter at 100%, built with 9% flour to make 20% of the batch. Batch based on 1 kg total flour, and 60% hydration. So that’s a total finished weight of 1600 gm. Made of 320 gm starter, 440 gm (600-160) water, 840 gm (1000-160) flour and 1 tsp salt. Stretched and folded every 30 minutes or so for 4¼ hours at about 30℃, by which time it had doubled.

I halved the batch, roughly shaped the dough and bunged it into lightly oiled tins. Those went into the fridge, which I think is at about 12℃, although that seems on the warm side. 1 Proving for about 18 hours, and again the dough had roughly doubled. I took them out of the fridge and left them for roughly an hour, during which time they rose a little more. Uncovered in the fridge the top surface had definitely dried out, but there was no alternative. I slashed the crust carefully, and put one loaf into the oven at 250℃ under a big old cast iron casserole. No steam though. Getting steam in under the casserole is a trick that escapes me right now. After 20 minutes I took the casserole off and reduced the heat to 205℃, leaving it another 30 minutes. Inside temperature was 95℃ when I took it out to cool. And boy, did it look good.

Loaf of bread

Good structure too.

Crumb picture of bread loaf

The proof, of course, is in the eating. With a fresh goats cheese. Excellent. I may have solved my problem, although I’m tempted to do a proper knead next time, just to see whether that makes a difference.

There’s only room under the casserole for one loaf,, so as an experiment I did the second without a cover. The big difference was the look of the crust. Less glossy.

  1. It is! I did a quick check, and it seems I should aim for 3℃. Not that there's been a major problem with spoilage.  

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