60-Hour Sourdough Loaf

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    1

    loaf

Appears in

Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread

Bien Cuit

By Zachary Golper and Peter Kaminsky

Published 2015

  • About

This is my signature bread (in France it is usually known as a miche). It is the direct descendant of that first bread I learned to bake with Andres, although mine is a big round loaf and his was, for lack of a better description, shaped like a log. It is most likely the bread that much of France survived on for hundreds of years. A version created in the 1970s by Lionel Poilâne in Paris is often thought to have kicked off, or at least given a big push to, the artisan bread revival of recent decades, first in France and then around the world. If I were allowed to sell just one bread, this would be it. Don’t let the 60 hours scare you away; the actual work on your part is maybe an hour, with the beneficial yeast and bacteria doing the rest all on their own. You can bake this bread after 35 hours and the results are nice, but the extra fermentation time will yield even more flavor.

Ingredients

Starter

  • 50 grams (3 tbsp + 1 tsp) Sourdough Starter
  • 100 grams (¼ c + 3 tbsp) water at about 60°F (15°C)
  • 100 grams (½ c + tbsp) medium whole wheat flour

Dough

  • 275 grams ( c + tbsp) white flour, plus additional as needed for working with the dough
  • 100 grams (½ c + tbsp) medium whole wheat flour
  • 50 grams (¼ c + tbsp) white rye flour
  • 50 grams (¼ c + tbsp) dark rye flour
  • 25 grams (2 tbsp + tsp) buckwheat flour
  • 18 grams (1 tbsp) fine sea salt
  • 375 grams ( c + 1 tbsp) water at about 60°F (15°C)
  • Dusting Mixture, for the lined proofing basket and the shaped loaf

Method

For the Starter

  1. Put the sourdough starter in a medium storage container and add the water. Break the starter into pieces with your fingers until it’s almost dissolved in the water; there will still be some small pieces. Stir in the flour until fully incorporated. Cover the container and let sit at room temperature for 10 to 14 hours. The starter will be at its peak at around 12 hours.

For the Dough

  1. Stir together the white, whole wheat, white rye, dark rye, and buckwheat flours and the salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Pour about one-third of the water around the edges of the starter to release it from the sides of the container. Transfer the starter and water to an extra-large bowl along with the remaining water. Using a wooden spoon, break the starter up to distribute it in the water.
  3. Add the flour mixture, reserving about one-sixth of it along the edge of the bowl (see Mixing). Continue to mix with the spoon until most of the dry ingredients have been combined with the starter mixture. Switch to a plastic bowl scraper and continue to mix until incorporated. At this point the dough will be sticky to the touch.
  4. Push the dough to one side of the bowl. Roll and tuck the dough (see Rolling and Tucking), adding the reserved flour mixture and a small amount of additional flour to the bowl and your hands as needed. Continue rolling and tucking until the dough feels stronger and begins to resist any further rolling, about 12 times. Then, with cupped hands, tuck the sides under toward the center. Place the dough, seam-side down, in a clean bowl, cover the top of the bowl with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest at room temperature for 45 minutes.
  5. For the first stretch and fold (see Stretching and Folding), lightly dust the work surface and your hands with flour. Using the plastic bowl scraper, release the dough from the bowl and set it, seam-side down, on the work surface. Gently stretch it into a roughly rectangular shape. Fold the dough in thirds from top to bottom and then from left to right. With cupped hands, tuck the sides under toward the center. Place the dough in the bowl, seam-side down, cover the bowl with the towel, and let rest for 45 minutes.
  6. For the second stretch and fold, repeat the steps for the first stretch and fold, then return the dough to the bowl, cover with the towel, and let rest for 45 minutes.
  7. For the third stretch and fold, once again repeat the steps for the first stretch and fold, then return the dough to the bowl, cover with the towel, and let rest for 45 minutes.
  8. For the fourth and final stretch and fold, repeat the steps for the first stretch and fold, return the dough to the bowl, cover with the towel, and let rest for 30 minutes.
  9. Line a 9-inch (23 cm) proofing basket or bowl with a clean kitchen towel and dust the towel fairly generously with the dusting mixture.
  10. Lightly dust the work surface and your hands with flour and shape the dough into a round (see Shaping a Round Loaf). Dust the sides and top of the dough with the dusting mixture, fold the edges of the towel over the top, and let rest at room temperature for 5½ hours.
  11. Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator and chill for 36 to 40 hours.
  12. Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Place a covered 6-quart (5.7 L), 10-inch (25 cm) round cast-iron Dutch oven on the rack. Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C). Remove the basket of dough from the refrigerator for 20 minutes before baking. (I recommend preheating the oven for 1 hour, so take the basket out after 40 minutes.)
  13. Using heavy-duty oven mitts or potholders, remove the Dutch oven, place it on a heatproof surface, and remove the lid.
  14. Using the kitchen towel, lift and gently ease the dough out of the basket and onto a baking peel, seam-side down. Then carefully transfer it into the pot (the Dutch oven will be very hot). Score the top of the dough (see Scoring), cover the pot, and return it to the oven. Lower the oven temperature to 460°F (240°C) and bake for 45 minutes.
  15. Rotate the Dutch oven and remove the lid. The loaf will already be a rich golden brown. Lower the oven temperature to 440°F (225°C) and bake with the lid off until the surface is a very dark brown, with a lot of spots along the score being very dark (bien cuit), about 15 minutes longer. (This bread is baked darker than any other loaf.)
  16. Loosen the edges of the loaf with a long handled spoon and then with the help of the spoon lift out of the pot onto a cooling rack. When the bottom of the loaf is tapped, it should sound hollow. If not, return it to the oven and bake directly on the rack for 5 minutes longer.
  17. Let the bread cool completely before slicing and eating, and also give it a bit of extra time for the flavors to fully develop: at least 10 hours, or up to 2 days. The acidity of the sourdough gives this bread a longer shelf life, which allows the flavors to mature even more.