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Sourdough Sandwich Bread (white)

Updated: Mar 1

800 g gr high-protein bread flour

80 g softened butter

440 gr room temperature water

240 gr very active sourdough starter at 100% hydration

15 gr salt

Prepare your starter so it is very active. This can take a few days if your starter has been dormant, or just one feeding if it's already active.

In a stand mixer with the dough hook, (or in a large bowl if mixing by hand), mix the flour and butter. Add the water and the active starter. Mix for 3 minutes (or 5 minutes by hand) and let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes. This is called the autolyze stage, where the gluten strands first begin to form. Add the salt and mix for an additional 5 minutes in mixer, or 10 minutes by hand. Keep the dough covered with plastic and try to maintain a dough temperature of 75-80°F / 24-26°C.

Bulk ferment: Stretch and fold the dough by hand, or give it a few whirls with the dough hook, every 30 minutes, for 2 hours. After this, very gently stretch and fold the dough by hand every 30 minutes for an additional 2 hours. In the initial stage of fermentation, (the first two hours), feel free to be a bit brisk with the dough to help it develop strength. In the third and fourth hour, as it begins to bulk up, be increasingly gentle with it to encourage bubble formation. It will become increasingly light and airy in texture and will begin to feel like pulling a lovely, giant marshmallow towards the end. To keep the dough from sticking to your hands, wet your hands in water first.

Pull the dough into a ball shape and let it rest, seam side down, covered, for 2 hours or until it has grown about 50%.

Pre-shape: on a lightly floured surface, cut the dough into two equal portions with a dough cutter. Fold each mound of dough from all four sides like an envelope and let each dough ball rest seam side down, covered with an upside-down bowl, for 30 minutes.

Prepare 2 metal loaf pans by lining with non-stick baking paper or greasing.

Shape: Working with your dough mounds one at a time, flip them over (seam side up), gently pull the corners into the center to form a rectangle (I like to do left, right, top, then roll it over itself away from me). Without pulling too much and breaking the tension, seal the bottom seam in a zigzag / zipper fashion and place each loaf seam side down in your greased or paper-lined bread pans.

Final rise: cover and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature, or store in the refrigerator immediately after shaping till ready to bake, within 48 hours.

The longer you cold ferment your dough, the more intense the sourdough flavor and the more digestion benefits, but keep in mind that you will lose quite a bit of oven spring after the first 24 hours as the yeast run out of food and begin to die off.

Pre-heat the oven. Just before baking, make 1 large cut (score) through the center of the dough with an angled razor blade or sharp, wet knife.

Bake at 390°F / 200°C for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F /176°C and continue to bake for about 30 additional minutes, or till golden brown and the internal temperature reaches minimum 190°F / 88°C.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before de-molding your bread onto a wire rack to cool completely. The bread will continue to set and cure so that the crumb isn't gummy, and it's recommended to wait 2 full hours before slicing. Personally, I can never wait. Nothing's better than a warm slice of bread to melt some butter on, or to dip into something soupy. Feel free to cheat!

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