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Walnut Sourdough


Makes 1 loaf

100g mature, fed starter at its peak

450g white bread flour

50g wholemeal flour

375g warm water

10g salt

2 cups toasted walnuts, chopped


** Feed your starter at least twice before using it. You want it to smell like overripe fruit, and be full of bubbles both on top and down the sides. If your starter is weak, keep feeding until it is doubling reliably. **

Build your fermentalyse with: all the starter + all the flour + 350g warm water

Mix until the water is incorporated, and no more. Cover and let ferment 1 hour. It will not look like much has changed, but the flour needs this time to absorb the water.

Add the remaining 25g warm water together with 10g salt, pinching the dough to incorporate.

Add the walnuts now or when doing the first fold. This delay in adding them allows the dough time to form the structure without the walnuts affecting it.

Now the bulk fermentation starts. This should take 3-4 hours at around 26.5c, so longer if colder, and vice versa. Some flours also take longer to absorb, and may not rise as much as others.

Do your first stretch and fold, and pat down so the dough is level. Make a note of its volume now, and cover for 30 minutes.

Repeat this step at 30-minute intervals until you've done four sets of strech and folds (increasingly gentle so as not to degas), which should take you to 3 hours of bulk fermentation at which point, do the following checks:

- does the dough seem aerated and wobble when you give a jiggle? You need to balance this will good tensile strength

- has the volume increased at least 20%, ideally 30%?

- when you last handled it, does it feel like it's gained good tensile strength?

- use the window pane test to check elasticity

If not, then leave it another 30 minutes and check. Do a maximum of 6 stretch and folds. Ideally you should leave the dough undisturbed for its last hour of bulk fermentation.

Once you're happy, move to pre-shape onto an unfloured work surface.

Establish a top and bottom of the dough. The top is floured to form a 'skin', but the bottom must be kept sticky and unfloured. This will allow you to shape.

Using your bench scraper, flip the dough so the floured top is now on the bottom, it should now be sticky side up.

Using moist hands, stretch the dough into a rectangle, fold the bottom a third of the way up, then stretch the sides horizontally and again fold them back onto the dough. Now bring the top of the rectangle and fold it completely over the dough itself, rolling and tightening as you go. Pinch the side seams to form a pressure cooker.

Bench rest for 40 minutes.

Now do the final shaping, your choice of whether to do this with minimal folds, or to do a more intensive shaping like a shoelace stitch depending on how you'd like the crumb to come out.

Retard at least 12 hours in the fridge, covered (using a blend of 50/50 rice and bread flour so the dough doesn't stick to the bowl / towel) making sure the temperature is not above 4.5c. If it is, turn the cooling system up or shorten the cold proof. Keep in mind that the temperature will vary between shelves on the fridge.

Now, preheat your oven to 255c with your pyrex dish (do not put the lid on the dish). Once that's done, take the dough out, sprinkle the top with rice flour, and flip onto a piece of parchment that fits the diameter of the pyrex dish. Dust the top with rice flour, score the top, and sprinkle with water. Then place into pyrex dish, and bake lidded for 20 minutes. Check for browness, uncover the lid and turn the over down to 225c, baking for up to another 20 minutes, depending on doneness (internal temperature should be 100c) and preference for how brown you like your crust. Let cool on a rack for 90 minutes before cutting and serving.

You can freeze this, but honestly it's best just to divide the dough after bulk ferment and keep one in the fridge for up to another 4 days (max 5 days cold ferment), with all the other steps the same as above.