Long-fermented breads are a revelation and require care, a schedule and a good, active sourdough starter. There are days when a good, old-fashioned rustic loaf beckons, and this recipe doesn’t fail for that quick fix. Use this recipe as a base and create your custom blends- see below for some of our favorite variations.
Before you get started, it’s helpful to have a few tools on hand (a large tub or bowl with a lid or plate to cover, a Dutch oven or pizza stone and a pair of scissor) and a little more info about wheat. There are as many wheat varieties as there are grains of rice, and no two varieties will behave the same. Hard red wheats (Red Fife, for example) will require a touch more water and softer ones, like Sonora, a bit more stretching and folding to develop the gluten structure necessary for the bread to rise.
2-3/4cupsWater+ 2 Tbsps, 700g, room temperature
5tspActive dry yeast14g
3-1/2cupsAll purpose flour450g
3cupsWhole wheat flour400g
2tspFine sea salt14g
Pour the water into a large bowl and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let this sit for a minute or two. It doesn’t need to be stirred or look too perfect.
Mix together the flour and salt and pour over the water. Mix with a wooden spoon until the flour disappears, then start working with your hand.
To knead a dough this wet required a stretch and fold method. It’s easy- create a flat paddle by opening your hand and keeping your fingers touching together. Now pretend that your dough is a square and that your need to stretch and pull each side. Do this by sliding your hand paddle under the dough- then stretching half the dough out to one side and flapping it over the other. Turn your bowl a quarter turn and repeat about 10 times. Cover and let it rest 15 minutes.
Repeat the stretch and fold 4 more times over the next hour.
It’s time to choose your own adventure! You can cover this and let it sit on the counter for 3 hours OR put it in the fridge for up to 24 hours. This is called a bulk rise.
It’s time to shape! Lightly (very lightly) dust your counter with flour. Line two banneton (those wicker baskets, or let’s be real, a deep, narrow bowl lined with a towel will suffice) with a generous helping of flour or cornmeal.
Dump the dough onto the lightly floured counter. Cut it in half with a knife or a bench scraper. Stretch the dough’s sides towards the middle of the dough- like a package and flip it. Coax it towards you while rubbing it on the counter. Flip into the lined baskets or bowls. Cover and proof for one hour.
As soon as you cover the bread, place a Dutch oven and its lid or a pizza stone in your oven. You can also use a cast iron pan. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Keep the scissors at hand.
You’ll know the bread is proofed when you poke it and it no longer springs back. Remove the Dutch oven or cast iron pan from the oven and place it somewhere safe. Flip the bread into the pan and cut a quick pattern out with the scissors. It’s ok to cut deep.
Cover the Dutch oven immediately and place it or the pan into the oven. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the lid if there is one and bake until golden and hollow-sounding when tapped.
Remove and repeat with second loaf.
Fig & Hazelnut:
Soak 1 cup of dried figs in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and pulse in a food processor with 1 cup toasted hazelnuts. Add just after incorporating flour.
Parmesan & Thyme:
Add 1 cup finely grated parmesan and the leaves from 10 sprigs of thyme to the flour.