Norwich Sourdough, which was My New Favorite Sourdough when I wrote about it last year, is still my number-one no-fail go-to bread. (In fact, I was thinking of renaming it Three-Compound-Adjective Sourdough.) It’s mildly sour and goes with just about everything.
For those times when a more assertive tang is the order of the day, this variation serves nicely. It’s essentially the Norwich sourdough formula but with 50% more rye flour and 33% more levain. Just as Norwich Sourdough is based on Jeffrey Hamelman’s Vermont Sourdough, this is adapted from Vermont Sourdough With Increased Whole Grain, both from the essential Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes.
Yield: 2 kg (4 loaves)
- Elaborate sourdough starter: however long yours takes
- Mix/autolyse: 35 minutes
- First fermentation: 2.5 hours, with a fold at 1.25 hours
- Divide, bench rest, and shape: 25 minutes
- Proof: 2.5 hours (or 1.75 hours, then retard for 2 – 16 hours)
- Bake: 40 minutes
- 775 g flour
- 180 g coarsely-ground whole rye flour (such as King Arthur Flour pumpernickel)
- 560 g water
- 480 g mature 100%-hydration sourdough starter
- 23 (3.75 t.) g salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours, water, and starter on low speed until just combined, about one minute.
- Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
- Add the salt and continue mixing on low or medium speed until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. This should only take about 3 or 4 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to an oiled container (preferably a low, wide one so the dough can be folded without removing it from the container). Ferment at room temperature (72F – 76F) for 2.5 hours, with a fold at an hour and 15 minutes.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into 400g – 500g pieces and preshape them into light balls. Cover loosely and let them rest for 20 minutes.
- Shape into boules or batards and place seam-side-up in a floured couche or proofing baskets.
- Proof, covered, at room temperature for 2.5 hours. Alternatively, the loaves can be proofed for about an hour and 45 minutes at room temperature, then refrigerated for 2 – 16 hours and baked directly out of the refrigerator; this will yield an even tangier bread.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 475F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
- Before baking, slash the loaves as you like.
- Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 450F. For 450g loaves, bake for 8 minutes with steam, and another 22 minutes without steam. The crust should be a deep brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 10 minutes longer, with the door ajar, to help them dry. Larger loaves will need to be baked longer.
- Cool on a wire rack.