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NIN E TO F I VER sourdough r ec i p e

f it s a r t is a n wil d ye a s t a roun d t he m o d e r n wo r k w e e k

jeremy zietz


The aim of this booklet is to guide one through a home bread making program in order to make the finest bread one can make in the home with a conventional oven. If achieved, it will be nearly impossible to find better bread in a nearby bakery. Breads made from wild yeast have been hard to find in home baking practises as they require more patience, attendance, and care. Working with these age-old practises produces a loaf with astounding complexity and depth while delivering immeasurable digestive enzymes and helpful bacterium to one’s belly. With the market now full of gluten free products - we can call again on the power of these tiny creatures to help break down these proteins to deliver their benefits to us.


For these reasons and many more, let’s bake bread in the most time-tested manor. I’ll not deliver a formula, but initiate a process and relationship. This relationship with this living process will bring trials and errors, but will result in a truly unique product. Therefore, the information in this booklet will be kept simple with much room left for experimentation. Bread making is a craft, and crafts are learned by practise - not by study.


i. tips ii. equipment list iii. feeding your levain iv. country wheat bread a.fermentation b. dough c. folding d. shape e. proof f. bake


i. tips Do not Stare It is well understood that a watched loaf does not rise, as a watched kettle never boils and a watched finish will never dry. It’s not as understood why this is, but many believe these wild yeast creatures are quite bashful as they have not been domesticated as a commercial yeast has. It is therefore apt to cover your burping mixtures, proofing loaves, etc. with a cloth or lid. This is especially important during the baking phase - no oven lights. This is “bad luck”. Do not Rush Time and temperature, as ingredients, are equally as important as the flour, water, salt, and yeast themselves. Time and temperature are the ingredients which add the complexity that take these simple 4 ingredients and make them deep and rich. Wild yeast, (Saccharomyces Exiguus) consumes starches slowly compared to commercial yeast (Sacchaaromyces cerevisiae) used in beer,


and can also thrive in such an acidic environment as fermented dough. This process should not be rushed. This is in fact the key lesson of this process. Surely, a life paced with wild yeast is more manageable and less stressful. As the yeast and bacteria are at their work and consuming the flour’s starch they are slowly fermenting producing alcohol and releasing CO2. In beer, this alcohol and CO2 are trapped in the brew. As yeast is more active in warm temperatures and slower in cool environments, temperature is used to tune this fermentation process. Carefully drawing out this process to enrich the flavor without letting the loaf rise too long or become too sour is the art of this process. Temperature is then a great tool throughout the entire process. Cooling the levain will slow or “retard� its activity, while a warmer temperature will excite the rising (proofing) process. Wild yeast generally can survive even in freezing temperatures, up to about 105 degrees. Though, generally the fermentation process operates between 40-78 degrees.


Be Gentle In addition to being shy, this bread dough does not tolerate being handled roughly. Some bakers may toss and throw their dough about and rely on their ferocious conventional yeast to inflate their loaf again. Wild yeasts are sensitive, and if jossled roughly take time to stretch their gluten bonds again if they become torn. If such anger or aggression is released during this process - you may deflate a perfectly primed batch headed for an airy crumb. Keep Them Hydrated Yeast creatures love moisture - a chapped yeast will result in a closed and dry crumb. A dough that has been well hydrated (over 70% water mixture) produces a distinctly flavorful loaf with an airy crumb. This adds weight, producing a greater challenge for the wild yeasts to inflate the loaf. Therefore, a gentle folding technique is required which aims at maintaining the air in the dough while keeping the yeast within reach of their starchy food.


ii. equipment list Having the right tools makes for an effective and more enjoyable process. Here is a recommended list. Must-have Items: 1-2 cast iron dutch ovens - to bake the loaves narrow wooden spoon - for easy mixing 2 six qt. containers - for mixing / fermenting 2-3 one qt. containers - a home for the starter 1 large mixing bowl - perfect for mixing a wet dough oven thermometer - never trust the dial cloth towels - for covering and general use collander /gutter - make-shift proofing basket flexible metal spatula - make-shift dough scraper Nice-to-have Items: baker’s scale - rightfully could move to the above list. they are well worth their cost, ~$25 dough scraper - becomes an extention of the baker’s hand, used for shaping and is magic for clean up cane proofing baskets - allows for optimal air to reach the rising loaf digital thermometer - to test water temperature water spray bottle - to experiment with added steam


dutch oven

6 qt. container

dough scraper digital thermometer

baker’s scale

cane proofing basket


iii. feeding your levain The term “sourdough” is a more recent American term used for this wild yeast bread, as it can produce a sour tang. Many terms have been assigned to methods of making this bread, and its accompanying burping colony which a baker keeps. Levain is a traditional french term for this maintained culture, and many bakers refer to the portion taken out of this for the next bread batch as a “starter”. Maintaining a healthy population of this culture of yeast creatures is essential when calling on them to produce a great loaf. Much like humans, yeast appreciates regimen. It is best to think of this culture as a pet which needs to be fed on a regular basis. This feeding regimen should be adjusted to how often you plan to bake. Keeping a more regularly fed levain will result in a more ready and strong culture as opposed to a slow and lazy culture which cannot lift the loaf. It is advised to feed your starter at least once a week.


As previously stated, the levain can be calmed and kept longer by cooling. Therefore, it is best to store in the refrigerator when not being used. Though, it is key to bring the levain to room temperature for at least one hour before and after feeding. You may use the following quantitites to feed your starter at least once a week. ~ LET LEVAIN REST AT ROOM TEMP. FOR 1 HOUR, PLUS ~ MIX UNTIL INCORPORATED: 50 GRAMS (~3 TBSP) LEVAIN FROM PREVIOUS WEEK, (DISCARD REMAINDER DOWN DRAIN, MAY BE HEART BREAKING AT FIRST)

50 GRAMS (~1/3 C + 1 TBSP) WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR 200 GRAMS (~1 1/2 C + 1 TBSP) WHITE FLOUR 200 GRAMS (~7/8 C) WARM WATER, 85-90 DEG ~ COVER AND LET REST FOR 8 HOURS ~ USE PORTION FOR BAKING OR STORE IN FRIDGE AGAIN

If this pattern is interrupted by taking a holiday, continue with this schedule a few times until levain is able to double in volume easily in 6 hours at 65 degrees. This prooves it is ready to use for baking. Levain can be frozen for a month or two and survive, but is to be avoided as your pet may resent this.


iv. country wheat bread makes two loaves This recipe is a foundational recipe which is to be experimented from. If done well, it achieves a balance of the sour tang of the developed acedic acid - and the butteryness of lactic acid. It is modified for a 9 to 5 schedule, but based from an artisan bread recipe from Ken Forkish (see back). The flour ratio is enough to keep a robust wheaty flavor supported by the rye, with enough white flour to give it plenty of volume for that beautiful oven spring. Here goes: 1. DAY ONE - FIRST THING IN THE MORNING Feed Levain Take out and feed the levain as usual and let levain expand and ferment for 24 hours at room temperature. If you have a very active levain, you may get away with skipping this step. 2. DAY TWO - FIRST THING IN THE MORNING Expand Starter Easy, barely a step. Do the same as above, except this time you’ll use some of this for bread making.


expand and double for about 8 hours while you’re out. 3. DAY TWO - EARLY EVENING 440 GRAMS (2 3/4 C HEAVY) WHITE FLOUR 410 GRAMS (3 C SCANT) WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR 30 GRAMS (1/4 C SCANT) RYE FLOUR 680 GRAMS (3 C SCANT) WARM WATER, 90-95 DEG -----------------------22 GRAMS (1 TBSP, 1 TSPN) SALT 216 GRAMS (3/4 C, 1 TBSP) STARTER A BIT OF OLIVE OIL

Autolyse Mix all flour and water (above) in large mixing bowl until lumps are gone and it is fully incorporated, let sit for 20 minutes. This is the base of dough. This ‘autolyse’ reduces mixing time and prevents over-working. Afterwards, add salt and fold briefly into dough. Add starter in seperated chunks. Mix by Folding As this is a wet dough, kneading becomes


impractical. Keeping the dough in a large mixing container and folding allows you to work the dough without adding more flour. Folding is done in stages, a few minutes at a time. It is done by grabbing a handful of the dough blob with slightly wet hands to keep from sticking, stretching it outward until it resists (being careful not to rip), and then pulling it back over on itself and pushing into the rest of the dough mass. You can repeat this process throughout the dough. This excersizes and develops the gluten network. After a series of folds, it may rest for 30 minutes or more. Two or three series of folds is recommended to strengthen and mix the dough fully. You’ll slowly notice the dough developing more structure, and therefore able to better maintain its shape. Once finished folding, apply a very light coat of olive oil to the inside of your 6 quart container (or larger if you’ve doubled the recipe), add the dough and cover with a lid. this oil will help you later when gently pulling out the dough. let the dough rest through the night at room temperature. It should double in this container, or more - so leave room!


4. DAY THREE - FIRST THING IN THE MORNING Shape the Loaves Ready your proofing basket by dusting it with white flour, and then semolina flour. Dust liberally, as the wet dough will absorb much of it. If using a collander, liberally apply and work flours into a cloth instead, and line the collander with it. Ease the dough onto a floured surface, divide in two with dough scraper, and shape. Shaping requires practise, but don’t be fussy. Gently stretch the dough outward as before, fold in on itself, and draw the sides up to one point shaping into a ball form. Put the gathered end onto the floured surface and tuck the sides underneath, further stretching its “skin”. Check some YouTube media here. This will produce a circular boule shape. Once the surface has a good tension, gently lay the loaf into the basket with its stretched side facing up. Repeat with second loaf and let rest for one hour before heading out. Then, cover with a cloth or seran wrap and refrigerate. This will “retard” the loaf, and


further develop its flavors. 5. DAY THREE - EARLY EVENING Pull out the loaves from the fridge and let rest for one hour. Meanwhile, you may prehead the oven with dutch oven and lid inside to 475 degrees. You may push your finger slighly into the loaf with a floured fingertip. If it slowly springs back but not fully, it is ready to bake. Bake Make sure you give it an extra 20 minutes to preheat to ensure the dutch oven is at full temperature, double checking your oven thermometer reads 475 as well. Baking with a dutch oven, (or 2 if you want to bake 2 at a time) offers you 2 advantages. It creates a very even and stable heat, and also contains the moisture from the loaf itself. This produces steam, and therefore encourages the loaf to rise in the oven. These are key elements to artisanal hearth baking. When ready and with long oven mits, quickly take dutch oven out and close door. Lift lid and


sprinkle corn meal to prevent sticking. Gently invert proofing basket so that loaf falls out into other hand or onto floured surface. If desired, you may score/slash the loaf with a razor blade or sharp knife - traditionally done at an angle. Insert the loaf gently into center of dutch oven and quickly close lid and put back into oven. You may experiment by spritzing extra water on the bottom of the lid for extra steam. This step is dangerously hot, but to be done quickly to not let heat escape oven, and to not let moisture escape from the dutch oven after loaf has been put inside, key. Bake for 20-25 minutes with lid on, then take lid off and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Make sure loaf is baked until dark brown, as this will ensure a crisp crust full of flavor. Baking times will vary, be sure to check the oven in the final minutes. However, do not uncover the lid ESPECIALLY in the first 10 minutes. This is when it is expanding, and needs to maintain all the moisture and heat as possible to spring. When finished baking, pull loaf out carefully and let cool for 30 minutes.


Listen to its crust crackle and cool, smell its caramel, and feel its warmth. Have a soft pad of butter waiting, but be sure to assess the loaf with nothing else at first. Figure what can be changed, which element to isolate and adjust. Dream about what is next to come!

For Reference: Ken Forkish - Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast Peter Reinhart - Crust & Crumb Rose Levy Beranbaum - The Bread Bible

The Nine to Fiver Sourdough Recipe  

A sourdough bread making guide by Jeremy Zietz

The Nine to Fiver Sourdough Recipe  

A sourdough bread making guide by Jeremy Zietz

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