Makes 2 loaves
25 g active rye or wheat sourdough starter
100 g white spelt flour
100 g water
200 g levain
650 g water
500 g white spelt flour
500 g strong wheat flour
20 g salt
11 00 PM Feed your starter and leave it at room temperature overnight. Place an elastic band on the jar marking the level of the starter.
I usually feed and use mine twice a week: I discard the excess of the starter and leave as little as a tablespoon of it on the bottom of the jar (to keep the starter in excellent condition it’s good to transfer it to a clean jar). Then I add 50 grams of water and 50 grams of rye flour and mix it well using a tablespoon. It usually doubles in size after around 7 hours and stays at its peak for 2 hours.
8 00 AM Check the condition of the starter. It is ready when it looks bubbly and has risen significantly (it doubles in size) above the elastic band on the jar.
When your starter is ready, prepare the levain: in a medium bowl dissolve the starter in water, stir it well and then mix in the flour using a spoon. Leave the levain on the kitchen side for 7-8 hours.
3 00 PM Mix the levain and 600 grams water in a large mixing bowl, then sieve the flours into the mixture. Mix it well using your hands. Make sure you scrape down all the dough from the sides of the bowl so nothing is wasted. Once you’re done, shape the dough into a ball and cover the bowl with a damp cloth. Leave it to rest for 1 hour.
4 00 PM Add 25 grams of water and mix it into the dough, wait for a few minutes and add the salt with the rest of the water. Mix the dough well to work the salt into. Give the dough 1-hour rest.
5 00 PM Start stretching and folding the dough. Wet your fingers, poke four of them in the gap between the dough and the bowl and lift the dough catching it between the four fingers and the thumb. Then cover the rest of the dough with the stretched piece. Turn the bowl by a quarter and repeat the action 3 more times. This is one fold. Make three more folds in 30 minutes intervals (so four folds in total during a 2 hours period). After the final stretch leave the dough on the kitchen side for 30 minutes.
7 00 PM Sprinkle the dough and the worktop with flour. Remove the dough from the bowl with a spatula or slightly oiled hands. Using a scraper (if you have one, mine was bought in a tool shop) or a sharp knife, split the dough into two pieces. Use the scraper or floured hands to lift the dough up and put it back on the worktop, then shape it into a ball by rotating it with one hand from the side and underneath and then bringing it towards yourself while securing it with another. Apply the method to the second piece of the dough. Leave the boules (balls) on the worktop for 30 minutes covered with a damp tea towel.
7 30 PM Sprinkle flour over the boules and worktop. Flip the first boule. Now the ‘wet’ side is up. Grab one of the dough edges with your four fingers from the bottom and the thumb on the top (if it seems too sticky add a little bit of flour underneath the dough) and stick it into the centre of boule. Repeat the movement around all the edges or fold it like an envelope. Then flip the boule again (flour side up) and shape it with a rotating move. Place a clean tea towel in a sieve, wicker basket or banneton and dust it with an even layer of flour (it’s better to have too much flour than too little – otherwise the dough may stick to the cloth). Place the boule in the basket seam side up. Stick the seams using fingers to tighten them up, sprinkle your loaf with flour and cover with a clean cloth (I use the other end of the cloth lining the basket). Apply these steps to the second boule. Leave it to rest for 1 hour.
8 30 PM Place the baskets in the fridge for 12-16 hours.
8 30 (or later) PM Preheat the oven to 230ºC/446ºF/gas 8. If you have a Dutch oven (a cast-iron casserole dish) place it in the oven and wait 30-40 minutes until the oven and the dish are both up to full heat. The Dutch oven must be heated up to maximum – otherwise, the bread may stick to the bottom.
Instead of the Dutch oven, you can use an oven-proof enamelled saucepan. To avoid the loaf sticking to the pan, lay a round piece of parchment paper on the bottom.
9 00 PM Remove the first boule from the fridge, prepare a small sharp knife. Using oven mittens take the hot dish out from the oven (if you are not using the Dutch oven: boil a kettle of water and pour it into a wide oven-proof dish and place it on the bottom of the oven – this will create steam to help your bread rise nicely, then lay a parchment paper on a baking tray). You can dust the boule with a bit of semolina or flour (to avoid sticking, though I don’t do it) and then carefully tip the loaf into the pot (or on the tray). Now score the bread with the knife. Usually, I score it in a C shape the whole way through at a 45 degrees angle, but sometimes I cut a simple cross shape. Place a lid on the pot and put it into the oven. Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes.
9 30 PM Take the lid off the dish, reduce the heat to 220ºC and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven, carefully flip it and tip the bread onto a cooling rack or cutting board. Leave it to cool down completely. Bake the second loaf applying the same method.