Brooklyn Sourdough

Crusty sourdough, crisp crust, and moist chewy interior. 

There's something so magical about sourdough- I love how simple ingredients: flour, water and salt, can turn into a gorgeous, airy loaf with a bit of TLC. I've failed at making sourdough so many times- both in building my starter, getting into the rhythm of feeding schedules, and creating the perfect airy loaf. I guess practice makes perfect, and failures only make me stronger and better. I never thought one day I'd actually manage to make a loaf like this, and I honestly couldn't contain my excitement when I removed the lid of my Dutch oven to see the beautiful oven Spring, and the dark, golden crust with those tiny air bubbles on the surface. It's mesmerising, really. 

Sourdough is the most difficult bread I've attempted to make- and really this one isn't perfect. But it's definitely a huge jump from the flat, lifeless doughs I've made before. They key, I feel is in timing. And it comes with practice and trial and error, because every sourdough starter living in different climates behave differently, and works differently in your feeding schedules. For my sourdough starter, in Singapore's hot and humid climate where room temperature usually hovers about 29 to 31 degrees Celsius, sourdough works a lot more quickly, and for me it takes only 5-6 hours for my sourdough starter to become active from its dormant state in the fridge, where I usually store my starter because I only bake once a week or fortnight. In a cooler place, your starter would probably need longer, so you really have to play by ear. The best way to know your starter is ready to use is via the float test- which works all the time. 

This loaf ticks some of the boxes of a good loaf- nice caramelised crust, medium crumb: not too many large airy holes, but enough varying air bubbles and a nice oven spring. For me though, it's a little too heavy- perhaps I'm not so used to a thick crust and denser crumb, but I would generally prefer a lighter loaf with a thin, shattering crust and fluffy crumb. I guess I'll keep searching and trying to find a good loaf, but this ones good for dunking into a deep beef stew or a comforting, creamy pumpkin soup for lunch. And the crustier ends, I keep for breadcrumbs for when I need to make breaded chicken or potato croquettes :) 

Brooklyn Sourdough 
Makes 3 small loaves 

30g 100% hydration starter
65g water
65g bread flour 

620g water 
605g bread flour
200g wholewheat flour 
16g salt 
160g leaven 

6 hours before making dough, build the leaven. Ferment at room temperature till bubbly, and passes float test. 
1-2hours before the 6 hour mark, combine the flours and water for the dough. Autolyse 1-2 hours.
Sprinkle over salt, mix with leaven till incorporated, and autolyse 20 min. 
Slap and fold the dough for 5-6 min to build some elasticity. Cover and bulk ferment at room temp for 3hours, turning and folding every 30-45 min, for the first 2 hours. 
When the dough is puffy and almost doubled, divide into 3 small loaves, and shape. Rest 10-30 minutes.
Shape again, and place in a floured banneton. Cover with towel, then plastic. Let dough retard in the fridge 8-24 hours. Allow to come to room temp for 1 hour before baking. 
Preheat oven and Dutch oven to 260 degrees Celsius for at least 20 mintues 
Cut a large circle of parchment slightly larger than the loaf. Sprinkle with cornmeal, transfer loaf onto parchment, and into Dutch oven. Bake 240 degrees Celsius with lid, uncovered for another 12-20 minutes.

* I baked my loaf at 230 degrees Celsius for a total of about 50-55 mintues as it is my oven's max temperature. 

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