CHAPTER 5

SOURDOUGH BREADS

The most wonderful flavors, aromas, and textures can be found in baked sourdough loaves. These attributes arise from a simple mixture of flour and water and the baker’s understanding of how to nurture these qualities.

At Cinnamon Square, I started our own sour cultures in 2005: one wheat based and the other rye. In 2010, we won a Great Taste Gold Award for our Wheat and Rye Sourdough, and in 2017, our Church Street Sourdough was awarded the best loaf in the United Kingdom at the British Baking Industry Awards. I will share both recipes with you in this chapter.

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Sourdough can be considered another form of baking botanically and, therefore, has a place in this book, as the sour culture itself is made from fermented cereals: generally, wheat or rye flours. For sourdoughs, the flour/water mixture is purposely left to sour, and the resulting culture is then regularly fed with more flour and water. If regularly maintained, a mature sour culture will last indefinitely, whereas a botanical fermentation is generally only used for a few weeks while the flavors are clean and fresh.

To make your own sour culture, combine equal quantities of organic flour and water (for example, 50 g [13/4 ounces] of each), and mix to form a paste. Continue to feed the starter daily with half its weight of flour and half its weight of water. Basically, it’s the same process as when making a botanical culture. Continue daily feeding and diskard when necessary to keep the total weight to a usable amount.

When the culture smells acidic and looks bubbly 4 to 6 hours after feeding, it is stable and ready for many years of baking ahead. You now are ready to make your first sourdough loaf.

Some recipes call for a rye sour culture. If you do not have a rye sour, you can easily make one by taking a piece of your existing wheat sour and feeding this portion daily with rye flour. After a few feeds, it will be predominantly rye and ready to use.

More detailed instructions for starting and maintaining a sour culture can be found on my website.

www.cinnamonsquare.com

EVERYDAY WHEAT SOURDOUGH

485 g (17 ounces) strong white bread flour

10 g (1/3 ounce) salt

195 g (7 ounces) wheat sour culture (100 percent hydration: fed twice daily for 3 days)

275 g (93/4 ounces) tap water (tepid)

Flour, for dusting

Ground rice or semolina, for dusting

This is the perfect recipe to start making your first sourdough bread at home. You will need a couple of bannetons or cane proving baskets or you can use a pair of small bread loaf pans instead. Make sure your sour culture is fully active before you make the dough to be sure that the bread will rise. I use this recipe at home to make all types of everyday white bread such as split tin loaves, bloomer breads, and farmhouse loaves.

The dough is not as soft as many other sourdoughs; therefore, it will be easier to handle. If you need to change the consistency of the dough, simply reduce or increase the water content.

1. Weigh the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the salt.

2. Add the wheat sour culture and tap water and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

3. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 15 minutes.

4. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

5. Divide the dough into two 475 g (1 pound 3/4 ounce) pieces and gently shape into round balls.

6. Place the dough balls into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 45 minutes.

7. Remove the dough balls from the container and gently reshape.

8. Place back into the container for another 45 minutes.

9. Remove the dough balls from the container and once again gently reshape.

10. Place back into the container for another 45 minutes.

11. Remove the dough balls from the container and once again gently reshape.

12. Place the dough balls directly into flour-dusted round proving baskets or form into cylindrical shapes and place into flour-dusted oblong proving baskets.

13. Place the baskets into a large, lidded plastic storage box and leave to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of the sour culture.

14. When fully proved, generously sprinkle some ground rice or semolina on a pizza peel or flat thin baking tray and then turn out the dough from the proving basket onto a prepared vessel of choice.

15. Score the dough surface using a very sharp knife or lame (see here).

16. Slide the dough onto your baking stone or heavy baking tray in an oven preheated to 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7) and steam the oven (see here).

17. Bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.

18. Remove the baked loaves from the oven and place on a cooling rack (if using loaf pans, remove the loaves from the pans to cool).

Yield: 2 small loaves

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AWARD-WINNING CHURCH STREET SOUR

380 g (131/2 ounces) white bread flour

50 g (13/4 ounces) whole wheat bread flour

50 g (13/4 ounces) dark rye flour

10 g (1/3 ounce) salt

195 g (7 ounces) wheat sour culture (100 percent hydration: fed twice daily for 3 days)

300 g (101/2 ounces) tap water

Flour, for dusting

Vegetable oil

Seeds of choice, for topping

Flour or ground rice, for dusting

I developed this loaf as a tribute to the hometown of my bakery, Cinnamon Square in Rickmansworth, England. Its name comes from the street the bakery resides on, Church Street. The sour culture used within this bread was born in the shop in November 2005; therefore, it has strong provenance in the town.

The Church Street Sour is a moist, flavorful loaf and has an attractive floral appearance due to the special wrapping method detailed in the recipe below. The scored petal cuts obtain a crunchy finish and are great to break off and use with a dip for a snack.

When introduced, this loaf was received favorably by our customers and was subsequently bestowed the title of United Kingdom’s best loaf at the 2017 Baking Industry Awards, which was a fantastic accolade from my peers in the baking industry. So, instead of keeping this under lock and key, I would like to share my recipe.

Chilling the dough after a three-quarter proof will make the task of scoring the dough simpler.

1. Weigh the dry ingredients separately and then place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: the three flours first and then the salt.

2. Add the wheat sour culture and tap water and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

3. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 15 minutes.

4. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

5. Divide the dough into two 350 g (121/2 ounce) pieces and two 130 g (31/2 ounce) pieces and gently shape into round balls.

6. Place the dough balls into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 30 minutes.

7. Remove the dough balls from the container and gently reshape.

8. Place back into the container for another 30 minutes.

9. Remove the dough balls from the container and once again gently reshape.

10. Place back into the container for another 30 minutes.

11. Remove the dough balls from the container and, using a rolling pin and flour to prevent sticking, gently roll out one of the smaller pieces of dough into an approximately 6-inch (15 cm) round disk. Brush the top generously with vegetable oil (leave the edges clear).

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12. Take one of the larger balls of dough and gently reshape and then dip the top into a bowl of seeds.

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13. Place the seeded top face down onto the oiled disk of dough and start to encase the ball of dough by pulling up from the unoiled edges. Repeat with the other large and small dough ball set.

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14. Place the wrapped dough into a flour and ground rice-dusted proving basket with the collective folds facing upward and place into a large, lidded plastic storage box to reach three-quarter prove.

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15. When three-quarter proved, turn out the dough onto a baker’s peel covered with ground rice. Use a very sharp knife to carefully score the outer skin with 8 petal cuts (see here).

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16. Place into a preheated oven, preferably on a baking stone, and bake at 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7) for approximately 30 minutes.

Yield: 2 loaves

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AWARD-WINNING WHEAT AND RYE SOURDOUGH

This bread is so nice it won a Great Taste Gold Award. When baked, the close-textured and tasty crumb make this such a versatile bread. Bake this loaf until it has a dark golden brown crust, as this brings out a delightful, slightly sweet, rye flavor.

You need to have an active rye sour culture prepared to make this bread. This is also a two-stage process, as you will make a rye biga, or preferment, the day before, which will be used as an ingredient in the dough the following day. The final dough has a firm consistency and should be proved on a baking tray rather than a cane proving basket, as it will not flow significantly during the long proving stage.

STAGE 1: RYE BIGA (PREPARE THE DAY BEFORE MAKING BREAD):

130 g (41/2 ounces) dark rye flour

46 g (12/3 ounces) dark rye sour culture (100 percent hydration: fed twice daily for 3 days)

72 g (21/2 ounces) tap water

1. Add all the ingredients to a medium plastic bowl and, using a wooden spoon, stir until a thick, smooth paste is formed.

2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean, plastic shower cap and leave at room temperature for up to 12 hours before use.

STAGE 2: FINAL DOUGH:

445 g (153/4 ounces) strong white bread flour

12 g (1/2 ounce) salt

248 g (83/4 ounces) rye biga (all of stage 1)

250 g (83/4 ounces) tap water

Ground rice or semolina, for dusting

1. Weigh the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the salt.

2. Add the rye biga and tap water and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

3. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.

4. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

5. Gently shape the dough into a round ball.

6. Place into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 60 minutes.

7. Remove the dough from the container and gently reshape.

8. Place back into the container for another 60 minutes.

9. Remove the dough from container and once again gently reshape.

10. Place back into the container, smooth-side up, for 15 minutes to allow the dough to relax.

11. Gently reshape the dough and place smooth-side up on a baking paper–lined baking tray generously sprinkled with ground rice or semolina.

12. Place the tray into a large, lidded plastic storage box and leave to fully prove. This could take from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the activity of the sour culture, but it is normally quicker than for the wheat sourdough.

13. When fully proved, generously sprinkle some ground rice or semolina on a pizza peel or flat thin baking tray and then gently place the dough onto your prepared vessel of choice.

14. Cut a design on the top surface of the dough with a sharp knife or lame (see here).

15. Slide the dough onto your baking stone or heavy baking tray in an oven preheated to 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7) and steam the oven (see here).

16. Bake until a dark, rich, golden-brown crust is formed, approximately 35 to 40 minutes.

17. Remove the baked loaf from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

Yield: 1 large loaf

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100 PERCENT DARK RYE SOURDOUGH BOULE

This recipe makes an authentic version of the classic dark rye loaf. Normally cut into thin slices when eaten, the bread has a sweet, tangy rye flavor, and the crumb has a slight stickiness to it. The appearance is fantastic as the dough expands and heavy cracks appear across the flour-dusted top.

This recipe requires a rye sour culture to leaven the dough. If you do not have one, the easiest way to convert a portion of your existing wheat sour culture is to feed it daily with rye flour. After a few days, it will look totally different as the wheat flour becomes ever more diluted.

Although this bread is a three-stage process, the steps are not very time-consuming.

STAGE 1: OVERNIGHT FERMENT:

55 g (2 ounces) dark rye sour culture (100 percent hydration: fed twice daily for 3 days)

530 g (1 pound 23/4 ounces) tap water

185 g (61/2 ounces) dark rye flour

1. Place the rye sour culture, tap water, and dark rye flour into a bowl and mix together until it forms a runny batter free from any lumps.

2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean, plastic shower cap and leave overnight to ferment in a cool place.

STAGE 2: FLOUR ADDITION AND BULK FERMENT:

155 g (51/2 ounces) dark rye flour

1. Add the dark rye flour to the overnight ferment and mix until thoroughly dispersed. This should have the consistency of toothpaste. If it is too soft, add a little bit more flour. The consistency is determined by the water absorption of the flour.

2. Cover the bowl and leave to ferment for 2 to 4 hours. It should double in size.

STAGE 3: FINAL DOUGH:

285 g (10 ounces) dark rye flour, plus more for dusting

15 g (1/2 ounce) salt

1. Mix together the dark rye flour and salt in a small bowl and add them to the ferment from stage 2. Mix thoroughly by hand for a few minutes. This will be a soft, nonelastic dough and very sticky on your hands. If you prefer, you can use a stand mixer with a beater attachment instead.

2. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover, and leave it for 45 minutes.

3. Stir the dough for about 20 seconds to help build some strength into the dough. Then let the dough sit for another 45 minutes.

4. Place plenty of rye flour on your table and turn out the dough onto the floured surface.

5. Keeping your hands well floured, shape the dough into a round ball and leave it for 15 minutes.

6. Form the ball of dough into a conical shape. (This will gradually flow during the final proof into a boule shape.)

7. Place the conical-shaped dough onto a baking paper–lined baking tray. Ideally, the tray should have no sides (or use a tray upside down). This will allow you to gently slide the fully risen boule (still on the baking paper) onto a hot baking stone within the oven.

8. Generously sprinkle dark rye flour over the surface of the dough.

9. Place a large plastic container upside down over the tray and dough. Leave to prove somewhere cool.

10. The dough is ready for baking when the top surface has the classic cracked appearance and has flowed sufficiently to look like a boule (but not flat, as this will indicate the dough has been left too long). This may only take 20 to 30 minutes. The cracking shows that the dough has expanded during this proving period.

11. Carefully slide the boule (still on the baking paper) onto a baking stone within the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes at 480°F (250°C, or gas mark 10) and then reduce the oven temperature to 390°F (200°C, or gas mark 6) for approximately 45 minutes more. Make sure to remove the baking paper from the oven after approximately 25 minutes because, depending on the quality, it could disintegrate in the oven if left in for the entire hour.

12. Remove the baked boule from the oven and place on a cooling rack or use the common procedure for rye bread and wrap the boule in a tea towel and place into a lidded plastic container to cool. This helps the moisture inside to equilibrate around the loaf. If you can’t wait that long, just go for it!

Yield: 1 large boule

TIP:

To contain the flow of the proving boule, you can place the conical of dough (step 7) into an 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pan greased with white vegetable shortening and then follow the rest of the steps.

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LITHUANIAN KEPTINIS CON SOPRACCIGLIO

I developed this bread with my local brewery, Pope’s Yard. Keptinis is a Lithuanian baked beer where the malted barley is baked to give a much richer flavor to the beer. After baking some malted barley in my bread ovens for the brewery to use to make a batch of Keptinis beer, the smell was so good, I had to keep some to try and develop a bread containing it. This recipe is the resulting bread.

The baked malted barley porridge gives this bread a rich golden-brown color and a truly awesome malty flavor and aroma. You can also replace the dough water with a stout or porter (unless you are lucky enough to find some Keptinis beer locally). This will deliver a richer color and flavor to the baked bread.

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BAKED MALTED BARLEY PORRIDGE:

400 g (14 ounces) crushed malted barley

600 g (1 pound 51/4 ounces) tap water (boiled)

1. Place the crushed malted barley into a bowl, pour in the hot water, and stir thoroughly.

2. Leave to soak for an hour.

3. Place the soaked, crushed malted barley into a small pan. The barley should be deeply piled in the pan.

4. Cover with foil, place in the preheated oven, and bake at 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6).

5. It is ready when the internal temperature is over 194°F (90°C) and the top and bottom surface are well baked.

6. Leave in the pan to cool.

7. When cool enough to touch, remove the baked malted barley porridge from the roasting pan and place into a clean bowl. Stir to break up the porridge that has clumped together.

Note: You will end up with more baked malted barley porridge than the recipe requires. The excess can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks to be used another time.

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DOUGH:

440 g (151/2 ounces) white bread flour, plus more for dusting

10 g (1/3 ounce) salt

170 g (6 ounces) wheat sour culture (100 percent hydration: fed twice daily for 3 days)

285 g (10 ounces) tap water

135 g (43/4 ounces) Baked Malted Barley Porridge

Ground rice or semolina, for dusting

1. Weigh the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the salt.

2. Add the wheat sour culture and tap water and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

3. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 15 minutes.

4. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

5. Flatten the dough, spread the Baked Malted Barley Porridge on top, roll up, and then gently knead until thoroughly mixed together.

6. Divide the dough into two 500 g (1 pound 11/2 ounce) pieces and gently shape into round balls.

7. Place the dough balls into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 30 minutes.

8. Remove the dough balls from the container and gently reshape.

9. Place back into the container for another 30 minutes.

10. Remove the dough balls from the container and once again gently reshape.

11. Place back into the container for another 30 minutes.

12. Remove the dough balls from the container. Form into cylindrical shapes and place upside down into your flour-dusted oblong proving baskets.

13. Place the proving baskets into a large, lidded plastic storage box and leave to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of the sour culture.

14. When fully proved, generously sprinkle some ground rice or semolina on a pizza peel or flat thin baking tray and turn out the dough from the proving basket onto the prepared surface.

15. Score the dough surface using a very sharp knife or lame (see here).

16. Slide the dough onto a baking stone or heavy baking tray in an oven preheated to 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7) and steam the oven (see here).

17. Bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes.

18. Remove the baked loaves from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

Yield: 2 small loaves

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