Stiff Dough Sourdough Bread

The best part of baking sourdough bread is that it can be adapted to any schedule, weather and time. I love this stiff dough sourdough bread because it is perfect to bake during the Indian summer when the chances of over proofing are so high.

What is a stiff dough sourdough bread?

A stiff dough bread is when you bake with lesser hydration. Usually sourdough breads, especially the artisan boules that are all over Instagram are high hydration doughs i.e. water weighs around 80% or more of the flour. But this one is a stiff dough bread with a hydration of only 60%. It is a good place to start before going on to handle higher hydration doughs. I adapted this recipe from Trevor Wilson’s with changes for time because the weather here is warmer.

Since I bake this in summer it has only 16% sourdough starter. Usually I use 30% of the flour weight as the starter. But if I do that in this very hot summer then the dough will overproof easily and the bread will taste too sour to eat. In order to reduce the speed of fermentation we can reduce the amount of starter and control the taste and proofing. Let’s get started!

Makes one ~400 gms Boule

Ingredients & Equipment

For the starter

8 gms Mature sourdough starter from the refrigerator

14 gms All purpose flour

14 gms Water

For the dough

225 gms Bread flour

135 gms Water

36 gms Sourdough starer (from above)

8 gms Salt

Equipment

Mixing bowls

Banetton / Proofing basket

Dutch oven (optional)

Oven to bake

Procedure

For the Starter
  • Mix the 8 gms of mature starter with 14 gms flour and 14 gms water in a glass jar or bowl.
  • Cover and set it aside till it becomes active and bubbles form well. Sourdough starters usually rise in volume but that is not mandatory. If it is bubbly and alive it can be used to bake bread.
  • Usually the starter will take about 3 hours to become active and double in volume if the weather is hot. Else it can take upto 6 hours for the same.
  • Mix the flour and water in a bowl ensuring no dry flour remains. Do not knead only mix the 2 ingredients. Cover and set aside for 5-6 hours at 23C temperature. If the weather is warmer then set aside for 3-4 hours.
  • As seen in the picture above the water and flour mixture has attained good extensibility in 6 hours.
  • Add the starter and salt to the flour mixture and knead them into the dough.
  • Cover and set aside for 5-6 hours at ~24C.
  • In the first 2 hours, perform 4 sets of stretch and fold to the dough at 30 minute intervals.
  • Strech and fold is a technique by which you aid gluten formation and help trap the gases in the dough for a good rise
  • As the name suggests, strech and fold involves stretching the dough on one side and folding it on top of the rest of the dough. This needs to be done on all four sides like an envelope
  • When you stretch be careful to not tear the dough. Stretch gently only till you feel resistance and then fold it on top of the rest of the dough.
  • At each stretch and fold, you will feel the dough developing and the gluten network getting stronger.
  • In the next 3-4 hours the dough will double.
  • Once the dough doubles, transfer it to a lightly floured surface
  • Handle the dough gently and shape it into a sphere
  • Transfer the dough to a floured container and cover it
  • Transfer the dough to the refrigerator for 8-10 hours
  • Preheat the oven at 230C
  • Transfer the dough to a Dutch oven or any covered oven proof container
  • Make 1-2 cuts with a blade on the top of the dough
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes
  • Cool on a wire rack for an hour
  • Enjoy!

NOTES

  1. Bread flour can be replaced with all purpose flour
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