Today is THE DAY we have been expecting and building up for! It’s finally the day to start baking. Due to the lack of Dutch Ovens available at school, I had to borrow the pot from my friend who also needed to bake her bread over the weekend. So, I had to wiggle the baking time into the limited time available. This is why I had to start on my bread at 8pm.
8:05 pm : I had to bring out the leaven made yesterday. Please reference Day 20 for the results! Because the leaven was left overnight to fermentate, the dough will be too sour if left as is. That is why I created a new leaven by mixing in half of the old leaven with 1/2 cup and 1/3 cup of flour mix. Adding 1/3 cup of water or more, I mixed them using my hands. After waiting 2.5 hrs, I did another float test. I kind of cheated by putting it over a bed warmer to speed up the process. The heat will catalyze the growth of microbes, and will in turn, create more by-products of alcohol, CO2 and lactic acid (respective to the species and conditions of the microbes).
11:10 pm: So, I did my second float test using 1/2 teaspoon of dough on the bottom, and it worked! I mean, to be honest, it wasn’t floating but hung on there, but at this time it was good enough. The purpose of the second float test (like the first one) was to determine if the second batch has the optimal conditions for baking (specifically the amount of CO2). Since my leaven passed the test, I moved on to making the actual dough used for baking. This process required transferring of 1/2 cup of leaven, 3.5 cups of flour (bread or all-purpose), 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour, and 1.5 cups of water. I used all-purpose instead of bread flour because I read on a blog that all-purpose will give it that soft texture. See reference below. Mixed all these components together, and let it stay for 30 minutes.
Also, set aside a teaspoon of your sample and mix it with 2 tablespoons of the flour mix!
11: 45 pm: Now that 30 minutes were up, I added 3.5 teaspoons of salt. Kosher salt is preferred but I didn’t have any at hand, so I added ionized table salt. I mixed the salt into the dough and added some more water (1/4 cup) because the dough was too dry. From there on out, I kneaded the dough every 30 minutes for 4 hours. Kneading is when you take the bottom of the dough and put it to the top several times. This process untangles the gluten and it allows it to hold more air into the dough: giving it the rising or the fluffiness of the bread.
3:30 am: The first few hours of the four was good, but at this point I was very sleepy. So, I would like to apologize for the lack of photos. 😦 Moving on, now that the dough had been kneaded, I took it out of the bowl and onto a lightly floured cutting board. There, I folded the dough (outer dough folded inward into the inner) into a ball. Be sure to fold the dough without tearing it or break apart from the flour. After the folding, I left it there for 30 mins so that it may flatten naturally.
4:05 am: After the 30 minutes were up, I had to fold the dough. The procedure for that is in a clockwise direction, like origami, fold the dough from bottom to the top. Take precaution in not ripping the dough apart. I placed a towel into a clean bowl and dusted it with rice flour. Making sure that the seam side (or the top side) is facing up, I placed the dough into the bowl and left it there for 3 hours. The purpose of this was so that the dough had time to rise.
7:00 am: I took a nap, so still groggy, I pre-heated the oven at 500 degrees and placed the dutch oven into the oven. When the oven was at 500 degrees, I took out the dutch oven and placed my dough into it for cooking. Before putting the pot with dough back into the oven, I made a cross with a sharp knife on top of the dough. The first 20 minutes was at 500 degrees, but afterward, I left the dough to cook longer at 450 degrees for 40 more minutes. For some odd reason, my bread did not want to brown. I did the classic asian chopstick test (where I shove a chopstick into the bread and see if it’s done) and finally at 8:10am, my sourdough bread was finished!
8:10am : Before even tasting the bread, I flopped into bed and slept until 4pm. 😛
So, again, I am so sorry for the lack of pictures! I was not sane! 🙂