Ear's A Crumb-shot To Be Proud Of
Edd Kimber’s Sourdough
Whilst we’re no strangers to sourdough, we’re still in search of that all important ‘go to’ recipe that will deliver consistent results. We already have a very happy new starter but, last weekends 100% spelt sourdough was a delicious but unruly mistake and should have been a white loaf!
So, step up to the plate this recipe for a white sourdough (using a touch of spelt) from Edd Kimber, better known as The Boy Who Bakes. Edd shot to fame as the winner of the very first series of, what can only be described as a British television institution, The Great British Bake Off. So, with the first light of sunning lighting up the fields and with our jars of flour very clearly identified we set off on another 24 hour sourdough odyssy.
Edd’s 75% hydration recipe uses 90% white flour and 10% spelt. Whilst we always love the slight nuttiness that comes from adding spelt or rye, the small proportion of a lower gluten grain adds extensibility to the dough. We made our bubbly levain from our 100% hydration rye starter 'Florence’ but, where we normally mix this with water and flour to make our dough this recipe calls for a levain free autolyse.
The autolyse is a salt free period that allows your flour to fully absorb the water and, when working with higher hydration recipes, is essential. An hour later and we combined our levain with our autolysed flour. There is no way to do this without getting sticky so utilise a dough scraper to get every bit of dough off your hands. The salt is added after a further brief 15 minute autolyse by sprinkling over the dough and dissolving with a small amount of reserved water.
Next comes the ‘bulk fermentation’. This is normally measured in hours and is where you build the elasticity of your dough. Unlike some breads that are kneaded (you really wouldn’t want to do that for hours!) sourdough often uses a simple stretch and fold technique. How often you do this during your bulk phase varies greatly depending on which recipe you follow. Edd’s opts for hands on time every 30 minutes for the first two hours then two to three hours of untouched bulk rise. The result is a smooth and extensible dough that has had a chance for all the tiny gas bubbles to start to expand and be contained within stable glutenous bubbles. For the first time we had some all important bubbles around the edge of our dough.
The dough is released from the bowl and given a delicate ‘pre-shape’ before relaxing again. You’re now handling your dough like meringue, trying not to knock out the bubbles you’ve worked hard to create. Like a piece of cooked meat, the dough needs time between handling to relax and become workable. If you stretch and fold and try to shape too quickly your dough will be tight and can tear.
Finally it’s time to shape your dough. As we were using an oval banneton we gently teased our dough into a rectangle, did a simple ‘A’ fold then rolled the dough up towards us, gently creating tension on the surface but not squeezing our all important bubbles. It went into a well floured banneton (we use the linen liner for higher hydration recipes) and popped in the fridge for a 12 hour prove.
The next day our dough had filled our banneton and was ready to bake. We don’t have a cast iron pot that works for our oval banneton so set up our oven to use our trusty baking stone (an old terracotta tile rescued from a friend’s garden) with a tray of water. After a good hour of pre-heating we turned out our dough, gave a brief single slash across the top before sliding on to our baking stone and filling our tray with boiling water.
25 minutes later, with our loaf risen, we removed the water tray and let our loaf develop the all important crisp and chewy crust that is synonymous with sourdough. Now, about that crumb-shot…