It turns out that sourdough focaccia is my new favourite go-to bread to make!
Makes a medium sized loaf (just over 1kg total weight)
Phase 1: The Leven
2 Table spoons of your starter
75g Bread Flour (I use T55)
75g Spelt Flour (I used dark but white would also work)
Phase 2: The Dough
The Leven from phase 1
350g Bread Flour (again I used T55)
150g Spelt Flour (again I used dark but white would also work)
Phase 3: After Autolyse
1 table spoon starter
Phase 1: The Leven
Mix the ingredients in a bowl from Phase 1 to form your Leven, this should be covered with a damp teatowel and left at room temperature (19-21oC) roughly 10-12 hours. This will ensure that your starter is active and ready to go when you need to form the breads dough and will ensure you get those lovely big bubbles in your bread so I prefer to do this the night before I plan to start making my bread.
Phase 2: The Dough
Roughly 10-12 hours after you made your Leven in Phase 1 the Leven should be lovely and bubbly and smelly, if you are unsure if your Leven is active enough you can drop a small spoon in some tepid water, if it floats its ready. If the Leven is ready then add all the ingredients in Phase 2 to a bowl starting with the water and Leven, after mixing these together add the flours and mix together until they combine. Cover again with a damp tea towel and leave for roughly 30 minutes (just try not to leave it less than 25 and more than 40). This ensures the water is absorbed into the flour and makes it easier to work in the next step. If salt was added at this stage that would inhibit the uptake of the water by the flour.
Phase 3: Post Autolyse
After the 30 minute wait it is time to add the ingredients from phase 3. I often dissolve the salt in the water before adding it to the dough to ensire it is evenly distributed but its up to you. At this stage would want to work your dough, I use a kitchenaid style mixer for roughly 5 minutes on a medium low speed (basically until the dough covers away from the sides consistantly) however you could also use the slap and fold method to work the dough without a machine or you could use the dough folding techniquie used by Tartine where you strech the dough ever 30 minutes for 4-5 hours. I prefer the Kitchenaid because it means I can largly leave my dough to do its thing and can get on with my day but its your own choice. When the dough it worked leave it under the damp teatowel for a further 4-5 hours to develop bubbles and flavour. I would stretch and fold the dough two or three times over this time period to enhance the doughs elasticity making it easier to shape later but when you add the folds is not important, just that you leave at least 30 minutes between each at least. Also if you were wondering why I added more starter into the dough the increased acidity helps with glutan development when you work the dough shortening the time, I have not studied this aspect very heavily but I beleive it has cut down my kneeding time and helped the dough retain shape later on but this is very armchair bakery science at work here so please take it with a pinch of salt.
Phase 4: The Preshaping
After the dough has done its thing for 4-5 hours it is time to preshape the loaf. Preshape the dough by removing the dough from its bowl onto an unfloured surface and lightly sprinkle flour on top of the dough, then get a bench scraper and scrape the scraper under the dough bringing it all together with the flour remaining on the outside. Rotate the dough a few times repeating the scraping motion until you get a firmish oval ball, if tears form you have scraped too many times so you will have to leave the dough and try again in 30 mins, sometime less is more in this instance. Once you do have a lovely oval dough ball you can leave it for a further 25-30 mins resting on the bench.
As this stage is often very tricky I have attatched a photo of what a preshaped ovel should look like.
Phase 5: The Shaping
After the dough oval has rested on the bench it should have flattened out like a large pancake, if it has full spilled across the counted and is flopping off the side just shape it again and rest it again, this will be because not enough glutan was developed when it was kneeded but it is no issue, just reshape to regain some strength.
Anyway, if you have a flat pancake shapped dough then it is time for the final shape. At this point you should get your proving basket ready, generously dusting it with flour and have it ready beside the dough. At this point its really hard for me to describe the correct folds for your dough as this can be done in any shape you fancy so it is best to look up a youtube video on the correct folding techniquie as my discription will be vastly inferior, I often opt for a baton shape for the classic french country loaf shape but any shape would do.
Once the bread has been folded into the correct space place it in the proving basket. You have two options at this stage, you can prove the loaf in the fridge for 10+ hours (max 24) to develop the signiture sour flavour or you can prove it it for 2-4 hours at room temperature and you will be left with a milder sour flavour and more wheaty and nutty.
Phase 6: The Bake
After the dough has proved either overnight or at room temperature its time to bake. Preheat the oven at 240oC and again you have two options to bake the bread, either a dutch oven or a steam tray.
For this one I used a dutch oven in an old cast iron casserole pot with a lid and have had great results so if using one place it in the oven (without the dough) when the oven is cold and let it heat up with the oven to avoid cracking the pot. When the oven is up to temperature remove the pot and (very carefully to avoid burning yourself) quickly turn the loaf out into the pot and score it in any pattern you fancy (I opted for the single line). Place the pot back in the oven with the lid on, turn the temperature down to 210oC and bake for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes take the lid off and bake for at least 15 more however if you like your loafs dark continue until you reach the desired darkness. Remove from the oven and pot and cook for at least one hour before cutting into it (this is the part I often find the most challanging), The only thing left to do now is enjoy your bread.
For use with the steam tray when your oven is preheating place a tray of hot water close to the bottom of your oven and let the oven heat up with it in it. When the oven is at temperature turn your dough out onto a tray and score. Bake for 20 minutes with the steam tray in and then remove it for the final part, the timings on this vary slightly from oven to oven however make sure it sounds hollow when it comes out and you should be ok. Cool on a wire rack and let cool for at least one hour
Sorry for the rambelings but sourdough has been one of my most rewarding hobbies and just thought I would share this recipe and a bit of what I ahve learnt, any feedback and improvement would be greatly appreciated, it is largly unedited so sorry for the spelling mistakes and general mess.
I hope you all enjoy baking this as much as I did.
Added by: James Grant
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