I’m still playing with the many possible variations of the 1,2,3 sourdough loaf that has captured my imagination for the last several months. For this latest iteration, I decided to increase the amount of commercial yeast -I use SAF Instant- for this baking. I did this for two reasons, the first being that I had missed my daily refresh of the sourdough starter, but I still was intent on baking that day, so I knew my starter would not be at full strength – and I knew from experience that if I tried using a weak starter in this baking, I’d not get a full rise – so by adding about 1 teaspoon of commercial yeast would guarantee a good rise, and at the same time, would still provide the unique taste that sourdough brings to the dance.
The second reason to use such a healthy dose of commercial yeast was that I wanted my loaf to have a long fermentation in the fridge prior to baking, so that the sourdough would have enough time to develop its full flavor. I’m not a scientist, but I do know that when you combine a wild yeast with a commercial yeast, there are going to be some interesting biological and chemical interactions going on! And I also know that I don’t have to fully understand those interactions to enjoy their result – I just have to know how to achieve that result.
I guess I had a third question I wanted to answer, and that was, if I gave the dough an extra jolt of energy via the use of the commercial yeast, would that be enough to allow this loaf to rise free form as a batard, without the use of a couche or banneton? The 1,2,3 dough is a somewhat wet dough and is prone to give bakers a little trouble – actually, it’s wet character makes it almost perfect for a focaccia – but all my past attempts to give it a final proofing without support have resulted in a loaf that spreads out rather that holding its batard shape. Would the extra commercial yeast make the difference?
I put the dough together relatively late one afternoon, using the simple dimple 1,2,3 formula, and gave it a three hour bowl rise prior to forming it as a batard, placing it on a baking sheet, covering with plastic wrap, and sliding into the fridge for its overnight proofing. It rose nicely during its 3 hour room temp proofing, and was easy to handle at the end of that period.
I was a little surprised the next morning when I pulled the loaf from the fridge to see that it had risen very little during its overnight proofing. It may have been interesting to know what kind of oven spring I would have achieved by immediately slipping my partially risen loaf into a hot oven – I suspect quite a bit! But instead I decided to give it more proofing time at room temp before baking. Interestingly, the loaf came out of its long rest in the fridge still holding its batard shape well.
I checked it once more at about three hours – it had easily doubled in size, but was also “fattening” out some, however, not seriously so. I turned the oven on to 450F, and gave it 45 minutes to heat. As bake time approached, I misted the top of the loaf and scored it. I also had placed a large aluminum pie pan in the bottom of my oven, to which I added about a pint of boiling water just as I placed my loaf on the oven tiles. I gave it 11 minutes, turned the loaf 180 degrees, and gave it another 11 minutes before pulling the nicely browned loaf to cool.
Afterthoughts: I suspect that in regard to my use of both commercial and wild yeasts, the early rise of the loaf can be attributed primarily to the commercial yeast, and the later rise, on day two, was primarily due to the sourdough starter – I also suspect that the “spent” starter was still pretty strong, and probably would have done fine all itself. I’ll try that on one of my upcoming bakes.
The taste of this loaf was quite complex, which I’m sure was the result of the sourdough starter, and the long fermentation the loaf underwent. I think had I only used commercial yeast in this loaf, its rise would have been used up long before bake time (another future experiment).
The shape of the loaf held much better than any free form loaves of my previous 1,2,3 bakes – and I suspect that had I cut the final proofing time to only 2 hours or so, it would have held its shape even better – another future question to answer.
I put this experience together into the following formula, which I share only because it produced quite a nice loaf, and is another variant of the supremely easy 1,2,3 formula – I’d encourage you try using the 1,2,3 formula and its adaptions as a regular part of your repertoire – I don’t know of any easier way to put together a fine loaf of sourdough bread!
1,2,3 Sourdough Loaf
(with added commercial yeast)
- 100 grams of sourdough starter (I keep my starter at 100% hydration)
- 200 grams of water
- 300 grams of flour (I use a bread flour, but the choice is yours)
- 1 tsp of commercial instant yeast (apx. 3 grams – but my scale is wildly inaccurate at small measures!)
- 2 tsp of salt (apx. 6 grams)
- Mix together all of the above in a well oiled bowl and allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Pull dough away from sides of the bowl and turn over several times so that the dough ball gets well oiled.
- Re-cover bowl.
- At 15 minute intervals, lift dough from the bowl and stretch and fold it over on itself – now turn 90 degrees and repeat.
- Return to bowl and allow to rest for another 15 minutes. Repeat this procedure for 4-6 times over the next 2 hours.
- At the end of the 2 hour proofing, take dough from the bowl and stretch and fold on a lightly floured board – form into whatever shape loaf you’d like (this dough will best form a focaccia loaf – covered liberally with olive oil and dimpled with your fingers, but will hold its shape as a batard as well.).
- Place your loaf on a greased or parchment covered baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap and slip into the fridge for 8-10 hours.
- The following morning, remove from the fridge and allow to sit, still covered, for an additional 2-3 hours.
- An hour before approximate bake time, turn on oven to 450F and allow to get well heated.
- Use whatever system you wish to introduce steam into your oven during the first 10 minutes of the actual bake – this will guarantee that the bread has a thin, crisp crust – I use a heavy aluminum pie plate in the floor of my oven, and pour a pint of boiling water into it as I put the loaf in.
- Bake for about 11 minutes – turn loaf 180 degrees, and continue for another 11 minutes or until bread has reached an internal temp of 205-210F.