Updated: Jan 15, 2021
Hi all! As some of you may know that I am not a professional baker by trade but love experimenting with sourdough. In my post on Sourdough bread, I am simply sharing with you the different method and things I have done with my daily venture. You will see "#"s on my Sourdough description as it is a record on the experiment number for my loafs so I do not lose track. I may not be posting all my sourdough experiment since some of them are not worth posting, but I will share with you my experiences and what could have been done differently.
In this post, I am going with a more Asian palate sourdough by incorporating a spicy preserved mustard greens. The loaf is of 80% hydration and is soft and moist in texture in the interior.
What is Mustard Greens?
Mustard greens are widely used in the Asian Cuisine and not a lot of people actually realize that the it comes from the leafy part from the same plant that you get mustard seeds to make mustard. In Malaysia, we call it "Gai Choi" and are commonly used to make stir fries, spicy stew and often preserved. Preserved Mustard greens (called "suan chai") goes really well with Asian congee and is something my parents would very often make for a quick meal or when we are sick.
Can I buy premade preserved mustard greens?
Yes. In most Asian Grocery, pre made preserved mustard greens can easily be found in the jar food section. I personally like the spicy version but you can use anything really for this sourdough loaf and even have it plain.
Texture and taste of this sourdough loaf
This loaf has a really soft and tender interior. You can enjoy this bread as it is or pair with chicken broth, which is what I used it for. If you can't take spicy, opt for the non spicy preserved mustard greens.
Let's get Started!
I have divided the below recipe in to two smaller loaves but you can opt to make this whole recipe as one loaf and let it proof in a large banneton to make a large loaf.
Recipe makes 2 x 600 g final loafs
Total Hydration = 80%
50 g Ripe Rye Starter ( 100% hydration)
100 g Rye Flour
100 ml Water (21°C)
500 g 83% Unbleached Baker's White Wheat Flour
100 g 16.6% Whole Grain Baker's Flour (not sifted)
470g 78% Water at 25°C (reserve 50 g for later incorporation)
150 g 25% Ripe Levain
12 g 2% Fine Salt
200 g Spicy Preserved Mustard Greens
Saturday, 9 pm Refresh Starter
I fed the starter the night before and left it at room temperature overnight.
Note that if you are a diligent feeder of your starter, you can refresh your starter the night before and use it straight into your final dough the next morning.
If you are someone like me who feedmy starter once a week with the starter is rested in the fridge, it is recommended that you feed it daily three days prior to making your sourdough.
In here, I have taken out my starter from the fridge 3 days prior and fed it twice a day. The next morning, we will do the feeding one more time and let it ripen again before using as a Levain in the final dough.
The feed ratio was as follow:
50 g 100% rye starter
130 g Rye Flour
70 ml Water at 21°C
Sunday 7:30 am Levain
10 hours 30 minutes later
50 g 50% Ripe Rye Starter ( 100% hydration)
100 g 100% Rye Flour
100 ml 100% Water (21°C)
At this point, the starter that you have 'refreshed' the night before will be quite lively with lots or air bubbles in it and have risen at least twice its volume but not sinking in the center.
Weight out the required ripen starter and mox with the rest of the Levain ingredients together and place in a clean jar. Tie a rubber band around the level of the Levain to monitor its rise and activity.
The rest of the starter can be thrown out. You will have some left over Levain from this mix for you to refeed to be used in your future loaf.
The maturing process took me 6 hours and 30 minutes at 23°C room temperature at 45% humidity. Different ambient in your kitchen will take different time.
Tips: To know if your levain is ready, it should increase by atleast twice if not three times its original volume with lots of air bubble and have slightly domed on the surface. When there is a dome, it means your Levain is at its prime and nearing deflation. You want to use the levain when its at its prime just before it starts to deflate or is exhausted. Before adding the levain to your final dough, test by gently scooping some levain and dropping it into a jug of water. If it floats, it means it is ready to use. If it sinks, you need more time. Be mindful that exhausted levain will sink in the water too. Just check to see that it has not sunk. An over ripe Levain will have a very sharp sour aroma that can almost stink your nose when you inhale!
Note: Alternative, if you have been actively feeding your starter, you can make the Levain the night before with lower water % in the Levain and leave it to ripen over night for up to 12 hours before using the next morning. The percentage is 1 : 2 : 3 ratio of starter : water : 50/50 plain bakers flour and whole wheat bakers flour
Sunday 11 am Autolyze
3 hours and 30 minutes later
I was meaning to autolyze my flour and water an hour before the Levain was ready. Not familiar with the new Levain, it actually took longer for the it to mature, 2 hours longer as estimated. So, I ended up autolyzing my flour+water mix for 3 hour in total instead of 1 hour. I am not too sure if that plays a factor, but my final dough came out really soft and pretty good compared to my first loaf that was only autolyzed for 1 hour. I think I might go for a longer autolyze from now on.
The dough and water ratio are as follow:
420 ml + 50 ml (reserved) Water at 25°C
500 g Unbleached Baker's White Wheat Flour
100 g Whole Grain Baker's Flour (not sifted)
The temperature contributors at this point in my pantry and kitchen are as follow:
Flour = 22°C
Room Temperature = 23°C
Levain = constantly maintained at 26°C
Friction = 0
Desired Dough Temperature = 26°C
Water Temperature = DDT x 4 - (contributors' temperature)
= 26 x 4 - (22+23+26+0)
Water temperature = 25°C
Mix all the ingredients together by hand until there are no big lumps of flour. This process took me 8- 10 minutes.
Cover and leave to autolyze ( I did mine for 3 hours) towards the readiness of the Levain.
The Final dough Temperature at this point is maintained at 26°C
Sunday 2 pm Mix in matured Levain, salt and the additional 50 ml of water.
6 hours 30 minutes later
The whole mixing process took me around 8 minutes or so by hand.
Start by transferring the autolyzed dough on to a work bench without dusting any flour at all. Because it was of a larger batch for my tiny hands, It is much easier than trying to work them in a bowl.
Gently press the dough flat, then smeared the matured Levain on the surface and sprinkled the fine sea salt on top.
Dap your hands with some of the extra 50 ml water, then rubbed it on to the salt . The water added helped the salt dissolved better when trying to incorporate it into the dough. I have seen baker whisking in the salt in the water and then just pour it into the dough and mix. I didn't do that because I am not quite sure yet if I actually wanted to add in all of the 50 ml of water or not but I do want all the quantity of the salt in the dough.
Pinch in the Levain and salt with my fingers and gradually pull and knead the dough until there are no longer patches of the Levain. (this is why using the rye Levain is great because they are darker in color, it was quite visible to gauge.)
At the end of the mixing in process I still had roughly around 15 - 20 ml of water left. I kept them for the stretch and fold process. (Keep in mind that you want to incorporate as much of the water required in the recipe as possible but refrain from adding any more if the dough starts to seems to get too slack to work with.)
Spray a container lightly with oil and let I the dough rest for 30 minutes covered with a lid.
Sunday 2:45 pm First Stretch and fold and incorporating inclusions -
30 minutes later
I did my first stretch and fold by adding the inclusions and let it rest covered for another 30 minutes.
Start by gently flattening the dough, spread half of the inclusions on top of the dough, then stretch the north end of the dough and fold it over to the center and repeat the same from the south end.
Spread the rest of the inclusions on top of the dough and repeat the above process with the east and west end of the dough.
Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Sunday 3:15 pm Second Coil Fold
30 minutes later
As the dough have formed some extensibility to it, instead of a second stretch and fold, I did the coil fold instead and let it rest for another 30 minutes in the container, lid on.
To do the coil fold, gently lift the dough with both of your hands from the bottom center of the dough, gradually lift the dough and as the both north and south ends starts to release from the container, both the ends will start to "coil"/fold under the center. Tuck both ends under.
Turn the container and repeat the above process with the other two ends. Close the lid and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
Sunday 4 pm Third and last Coil Fold - Part of Bulk Fermentation
30 minutes later
Repeat the coil fold one and last time.
This time, I left the dough resting in the lidded container for another 2 hours. The dough at this point was maintained at 25°C
Sunday 6:15 pm Check Readiness and Pre-Shaping
2 hours 15 minutes later
Check for the readiness of the dough. The dough seem to have risen double its original size and feels really airy and is showing sign of strengthening. If at this point your dough seems a little slack, you can simply do a couple more coil fold and let it rest for another to to 15 minutes before proceeding.
Proceed to dividing the dough in to two equal parts.
Dust the bench lightly with flour this time then pre shape the two dough in to a rounded ball then cover with tea towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
Sunday 6:45 pm Final Shaping and Retarding
30 minutes later
Final shape the dough by tightening the boule (rounded shape loaf). Generously dust the banneton with 1 part baker's flour and 1 part Rice flour mixed beforehand (a tip I learnt from Alessandro Bartesaghi 4 years ago when he was giving a house demo to all his fellow friends). The additional of rice flour help the keep that imprint that the Benneton gives because it doesn't dissolve during making making the print stay and visible even after baking. If you are using the dusted cloth, you can simply dust baker's flour or semolina flour.
Flip the dough upside down and place the smooth side facing down with the seam side facing out. Dust some of the dusting mix on the seam and gently cover with lightly oiled cling film or cover with plastic. Leave the dough at room temperature in its proofing basket for 20 minutes before placing it in the fridge sitting at 4°C to retard proof overnight for baking the next morning.
Monday 11 am Pre-heat the oven
(next morning 16 hours later)
Because I only have one cast iron pot and a really small domestic oven, I could only really bake one sourdough at a time. So, I decided to bake my first loaf and let the other one sit for a little longer in the fridge.
Pre- heated the oven for an hour with the cast iron pot and lid inside to 200 °C for an hour. Meanwhile my sourdough is still sitting in the fridge.
I haven't actually tried baking the sourdough at room temperature yet but I learnt from a friend of mine who is also a Lecturer in Le Cordon Bleu, Chef Simon Docherty, that he usually would place his cold dough straight into the cast iron bowl together with the lid on and bake when the oven is ready to go. I did it that way and the dough turns out perfectly fine. If the dough did not come out great, it would most likely be because of the way I have fermented the dough or the Levain at this point.
Monday 12 pm Score and Bake
After 17 hours of retardation
When the oven and cast iron pot have been heated for the past hour, I then removed the sourdough from the fridge, tilt it upside down with a parchment paper sitting at the base and proceeded into scoring the top.
Gently removing the cast iron pot safely from the oven and making sure to close the oven door so that it does not cool down too much, transfer the sourdough into the cast iron pot. Right before I close the lid, I held the lid close to the top of the pot ready to close, and sprayed a generous amount of water into the pot where the lid are protecting the steam from escaping. I then quickly close the lid and in goes the pot into the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes, then after that, remove the lid from the pot. At this point my sourdough seem to have risen quite nicely with a good opening from where I have scored it.
I returned the sourdough, this time with the lid off, into the oven and continue to bake for a further 45 minutes.
Once it was nice deep golden in color on the crust, remove the pot from the oven and tilt the dough out on to the wire rack. It is important to remove the sourdough from the pot and not leave it to cool in the pot to avoid condensation at the base of the loaf which can make it sweat and become soggy.
Verdict - 85% Satisfied
Well, compare to my first batch of dough at 72% hydration, this batch of dough seems to have a more airy interior and obviously lighter than the previous loaf. This will most likely be due to the hydration level in both dough.
The mixing and folding method was exactly the same with Sourdough #1 and #2. The only slight difference are the hydration level and the preferment that I used. I have also omitted using rye flour for Batch#2 since I didn't really like the flavor that the rye flour gives to my dough. This loaf 2 also tasted tangier than the previous one and I am guessing it is probably because the maturing time for my Levain in this batch (6 hours 30 minutes) as it took much longer than the previous Sourdough #1 (5 hours) I know I have matured both Levain enough since I tested both with the "Float Test".
Overall, I really liked the soft interior of Sourdough #2 with Fermented Spicy Mustard Greens. I was a little skeptical about mixing in the Mustard greens but the spicy note with the sour fermented greens really bring out the extra flavor for the bread. The crust was pretty crusty and thin as well, and I am going to say that is a good thing. The crust actually still strayed pretty crusty after a day unlike Batch #1 which went soft fairly quickly after a day.
What would I have changed with the method/recipe?
If there is one thing I would change about this Sourdough #2, I think it would probably to try a higher hydration level and see how far I can push it. Maybe incorporating other types of flour as well. I would also really like to have wider crumb interior so perhaps pushing the hydration level a notch could do that trick.
Would I come back to try this recipe again with different variation? Definitely!