Basic Sourdough Boule
- 433 g Flour
- 333 g Water
- 67 g Starter
- 8 g Salt
- Feed your starter: About eight hours before you are ready to mix the dough, prepare your starter.
- Initial Mixing: In a large bowl, mix flour, water, and starter until all the ingredients are incorporated into a shaggy dough. Note that the dough is 77% hydrated, which means that it will be almost like a batter.
- Autolyse: Let the dough sit for 40 minutes. This is the autolyze period, which allows the flour to hydrate and to stimulate gluten development
- Add Salt: After letting the dough sit for 40 minutes, add mix in the salt with a few grams of water so that it is fully incorporated into the dough. Let the dough rest for another 40 minutes.
- Stretch and Fold: Forty minutes after adding the salt, begin stretching and folding. Pick up an edge of the dough and pull it and then fold it over the top of the dough, pick up another edge and do this again. Repeat the process about four times.
- Repeat Stretch and Folds: Report the stretching a total of four times at 40 minute intervals. This helps develop the gluten. Cover the bowl with with plastic or a wet towel to prevent it from drying out during the stretch and folds (I use a shower cap).
- Bulk Proof: After the last stretch and fold, let the dough rise for about eight hours. The dough should rise to about twice the size. Do not let it rise too much, which will reduce the amount of rise later. The amount of time it takes will vary with the temperature of your kitchen and the strength of your starter.
- Shape the Boule: Shaping a boule is a bit of an art and takes practice to get good at.
Shape it by turning your dough out onto a lightly floured surface and forming a boule by pushing the dough inward to form a domed boule. Be careful not to get flour inside the boule as this will not bake and leave streaks of raw flour in your final bread. The goal is to create surface tension that creates a smooth outer surface to the dough and helps boule hold its shape. Use a bench knife to aid in shaping of the dough sticks to the surface.
- Flour the Banneton: Because this is a wet dough, you will need a sufficient amount of flour in your banneton to keep the dough from sticking to it.
- Final Proof: Put the boule in the banneton and let it proof for a second time. For best results, proof the dough in the refrigerator for eight to twelve hours. Note that the dough will not rise much in the refrigerator. It will rise in the oven.
- Bake: Bake at for 30 minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius) in a preheated Dutch oven. Put the Dutch oven in your oven when you turn it on and let it heat up with the oven. Take the boule out of the refrigerator and drop it carefully into the hot Dutch oven (be careful–don’t burn yourself). Bake it with the lid on the Dutch oven.
- Cool before Slicing: After 30 minutes, turn the boule out onto a cooling rack. Let it cool before slicing.