Sourdough - Tartine sourdough (with overnight retardation).

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If you pop over to for Sourdough - Tartine style (click here), you'll find a detailed recipe for Tartine bread -  directly from the Tartine Bakery at 600 Guerrero Street, San Francisco, home to Chad Robertson and his very own Tartine sourdough, originally baked in a wood-fired brick oven.  

At that time and using that recipe, I made a same day bake, bulk fermenting the dough from early morning, proofing in the afternoon and baking in the evening. 

Sometimes, our busy schedules don't allow same-day baking or, like me, you might prefer to proof overnight, retarding the process in the refrigerator. 

That's what we're going to do today. 

I'm using my 1898 Yukon 'starter' which I obtained from WellBread in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada (click here). The 'starter' is creamy coloured and I refreshed it using 140gms added to 350 gms of all-purpose (UK : plain) flour, 350 gms of filtered water and 26 gms of white sugar. This is left overnight. It doesn't double in volume as a traditional starter. Instead, it shows lots of life in the form of bubbles and smells wonderful. 

This is actually a 'double mix'. I usually only refresh 70 gms but I need 200 gms for each mix. 

Ok, so I made my 'starter' last night and, this morning, we're ready to go. 

Why have I used inverted commas around 'starter'? Isn't it a starter? Well yes, it is....but it's nowhere near as robust as my other starter which, years old, is a tough old bird made from 1:1 filtered water and wholemeal rye flour. The 1898 might be older, but it's new to me, it's still in its adolescence and if I tried to refresh it using just water and rye flour it would quickly succumb and die. So, I treat it carefully and refresh it with less-demanding products. It's slowly picking up Welsh microbes. 

This is a recipe that produces bread with a 78% hydration. 

8.30 a.m. 

For EACH mix: 

200 gms of the 'starter' mixed with 700 gms of tepid and filtered water - stir to mix. 

Then add

100 gms of wholemeal flour and

900 grams of strong white flour. (I'm using 'Leckford Estate' 14% protein flour from Waitrose - £1.20 per kg.)

This is mixed together, covered with a shower cap and left for 60 minutes at room temperature.

9.40 a.m. 

Add 50 gms of warm water mixed with 20 gms of sea salt. Dimple into into the mix and then mix thoroughly together. 

Cover and place somewhere warm for 30 minutes.  I'm using the airing's between 24 - 25⁰C most of the day. 

Over the next 3 hours, perform 'stretch and fold' at 30 minute intervals (6 sets in total). 

Grasp the dough at the out edge, pull upwards and fold back on itself. Turn the bowl through 45 degrees and repeat. Do this 4 times until you have stretched and folded each quarter. 

Repeat for a total of 6 sets over the next 3 hours at 30 minute intervals. 

S&F 1 ✅

S&F 2 ✅

S&F 3 ✅.......

(Keep a chart and a log - it helps you to remember for this time and the next time....)

From the depths of the airing cupboard.....I think these will need a further hour. 

3.15 p.m. 

Bulk fermentation has completed. The dough rose to the top of the '4' mark above - i.e. doubled the volume. My chart tells me that at 20% starter and 24⁰C, bulk fermentation should take 5 hrs and 15 minutes.  That's exactly how long it took. It's a marvellous chart and so very, very useful. 

If you haven't seen it, here it is....

I've got 2 x 2 kg mixes of dough. So that's 4 x 500 gm loaves. 

The dough has been decanted from the BF container and moulded into 4 x 500 gm loaves. I've shaped them to create surface tension and placed them in separate bannetons, all floured generously with rice flour. 

They're now in in the fridge in the shed at 2.9⁰C until about 7 - 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. That'll be about 15 - 16 hours of retardation. 

Next morning.

7 a.m. 

I've put two Dutch Ovens in to preheat at 240⁰C. They're not 'proper' Dutch Ovens, by the way. One is a Le Creuset that was donated to me by a friend who told me she'd 'ruined it on mussels'. The other is a 'lookalike' that I bought from Carrefour in Calais, many years ago.  Both are heavy and about 21 cm diameters. However, I also use two Falcon 20 cm enamel roasters that are light, easy to use and bomb-proof. They're a fraction of the price and also impervious to the thermal shock of ice cubes.

I always use a silicone 'sling' to lower the bread into a hot pot. I made them myself from cheap Ebay silicone baking mats. A circle the same size as the inside of the pot and two 'arms' to help lower the dough into the pot. 

I've since discovered iBake silicone reinforced and reusable 'paper' that's sold by the metre. I hope it will work out cheaper in the long run. 

Many of the recipes will recommend bringing the dough up to room temperature before baking. One of the advantages of working with a chilled dough is that it makes handling and scoring a little easier. Remember, this is a 78% hydration, therefore the dough is loose and benefits from the chilling process produced by retarding it for so long at a low temperature. 

Consequently, I bake more or less straight from the fridge and just allow a few minutes more baking - ensuring that the internal temperature is as close to 100⁰C (212⁰F) as possible....usually 99.6⁰C (211⁰F).

A few ice cubes in the bottom of the pot and the dough is lifted in. 

Twenty minutes at 230⁰C with the lid on and then a further 30 minutes at the same temperature with the lid off. 

Batch One

Batch 1 complete with interesting knobbly bit on the left! Should I call this a 'Baker's Pustule'? 

Batch Two

Batch 2

Happy baking...... hour after baking, the loaves are cut open. The 1898 Yukon starter gives a fairly close crumb but not too close that it's 'claggy' or underproofed. Good even crumb. Lovely for toast and sanwiches.

Very happy baking....


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