My New Favorite Sourdough

norwich-sourdough-crumb-wild-yeast
I love baking all kinds of bread, but a basic sourdough loaf is an essential staple at our house. Good with everything from blue cheese to blueberry jam, and quite possibly even better unadorned, we always feel something is missing if there isn’t a loaf resting on the cutting board, ready for a quick snack or a hearty sandwich.

I first tried this recipe, adapted from the Vermont Sourdough in Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes, about a month ago. I loved it then, and have made it several more times since, to make sure the first time wasn’t just beginner’s luck. Nope; this one is a real winner. It’s a plain, honest, not-too-sour sourdough with a touch of pumpernickel for depth of flavor. With a thin, crisp crust and soft but substantial crumb, this is now my go-to bread for everyday good eating, anytime, with anything.

norwich-sourdough-wild-yeastThe original recipe calls for 125% hydration starter. I adjusted it to work with mine at 100%, and made a few other tweaks as well. I am calling it Norwich Sourdough, in honor of the home town of Hamelman’s King Arthur Flour bakery. And this charming Vermont town, as it happens, was my home, too, for five memorable years.

Norwich Sourdough
(adapted from Vermont Sourdough in Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman)

Yield: 2 kg (four or five small, or two large, loaves)

Time:

  • Mix/autolyse: 35 minutes
  • First fermentation: 2.5 hours
  • Divide, bench rest, and shape: 20 minutes
  • Proof: 2.5 hours (or 1.5 hours, then retard for 2 – 16 hours)
  • Bake: 35 minutes

Desired dough temperature: 76F

Ingredients:

Method:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the flours, water, and starter on low speed until just combined, about one minute.
  2. Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
  3. 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.
  4. Transfer the dough to an oiled container (preferably a low, wide one so the dough can be folded without removing it from the container).
  5. Ferment at room temperature (72F – 76F) for 2.5 hours, with folds at 50 and 100 minutes.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into 400g – 500g pieces. I usually make four 400g loaves and refrigerate the rest to use for pizza dough later. Preshape the dough pieces into light balls.
  7. Sprinkle the balls lightly with flour, cover loosely with plastic, and let rest for 15 minutes.
  8. Shape into batards and place seam-side-up in a floured couche or linen-lined bannetons.
  9. Batards in couche

  10. Slip the couche or bannetons into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 2 – 2.5 hours. Alternatively, the loaves can be proofed for about 1.5 hours at room temperature, then refrigerated for 2 – 16 hours and baked directly out of the refrigerator; this will yield a tangier bread with a lovely, blistered crust.
  11. 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.
  12. Turn the proofed loaves onto a semolina-sprinkled peel or parchment. Slash each one with two overlapping cuts that are almost parallel to the long axis of the batard.

    slashed-batard.jpg

  13. Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 450F. For 400g loaves, bake for 12 minutes with steam, and another 15 – 18 minutes without steam. I leave the oven door cracked open a bit for the last 5 minutes of this time. The crust should be a deep brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 5 minutes longer, with the door ajar, to help them dry. Larger loaves will need to be baked longer.
  14. Cool on a wire rack. Don’t cut until the loaves are completely cool, if you can manage it!

Norwich Sourdough batards

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Hi There, Ive made this loaf a few times now. It tastes great. Ive even started it with your starter recipe, but its seem really wet. I cant get it to hold shape. Im using a Spelt White Flour and a Rye flour at the exact recipe. What am I doing wrong. Is it ok to use less water. Any help really appreciated.

    • Alice Lockhart says

      Wet can be good. Harder to handle, but worth it in the end result. If the finished loaf has great taste and texture, you aren’t doing anything wrong.

  2. Jane says

    I’ve made this a couple times and used spent grain that I’d dried and ground as a replacement for the rye in my last batch. It came out very dark (the grains were chocolate roasted) and toasty, and smells amazing. I’m waiting for the loaves to cool down and having a hard time restraining myself.

    This recipe is excellent, and I plan on experimenting with lots of different spent grains in the future. Thank you so much for the recipe.

  3. Ada says

    Magic bread. It reminds me of growing up, a long time ago, in the Netherlands. It will be my go to bread as well. Next, tomorrow is the More Sour Sourdough. Can’t wait:-)

  4. Maggie says

    Could you halve this recipe? I’m still learning sourdough and we normally don’t finish one loaf before it goes bad. I definitely don’t need 4-5 loaves. I wouldn’t mind 1 Large loaf. Thanks!

  5. Billy says

    This is absolutely the best sourdough which comes from my oven. Since my family eats so much sourdough, I vary the recipes. However, we’re all pleased when this one hits its turn in the rotation!

  6. Sharon Zimmerman says

    I love this recipe. It’s become my favorite bread recipe. I have had less success turning it into pizza dough. I hope you’ll do a post on that or give suggestions for temp and baking time.
    Thanks!!

  7. Dawn says

    Hi Susan,
    I have been baking sourdough on and off for 2 years now. This weekend I baked 2 loaves using the William Alexander’s recipe in “52 loaves”. Quite happy with them but I baked one in a Dutch Oven and one on a baking sheet. I honestly think the Dutch oven one has a better rise, crust, and more air holes. What do you think of the Dutch oven method and why do most artisan bakers tent not to use it? Especially for home baking without having to feed an army, why not using it?
    Thank you!
    Dawn

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Bud pulled through! (The mark is how much starter there was after I fed him, and before I let him rise.) Ladies and gentlemen, we have a sourdough starter! I fed Bud twice more with the mix of rye and white flour, and tonight switched him to white flour only, but with more “food” (1:2:2 ratio, so there’s twice as much water and flour per part of starter) to see if he can still double in 12 hours or less. If Bud is still bubbling away happily tomorrow morning, then I can try him out in my very first bread recipe that calls for levain, or starter. Maybe some Norwich Sourdough? [...]

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