- 40 g active starter
- 8 g salt
- 375-400 g water
- 250 g whole wheat flour
- 250 g bread flour or AP flour
- sesame seeds (optional)
- rice flour (for dusting)
1. Mix salt and water together in a steep-sided container until salt is dissolved.
2. Add starter to water and stir until combined (this ensures the starter disperses evenly through the dough.
3. Add flour, and mix until ingredients are combined.
4. Wet your hands (the dough is wet enough that it is easier to work with wet hands than with floured ones) and stretch and fold the dough four times. Cover the container with plastic, and let sit for 30 min.
5. Wet your hands, and stretch and fold the dough another four times. The dough should be less shaggy and much easier to work. Recover with plastic, and let sit at room temperature for 8-15 hours, until the dough has increased in size by 50%.
6. Gently tip the dough out of the container onto a lightly floured surface. Gently stretch the dough into a square, and fold it up like a letter, then roll the long end of the letter towards you. Turn over, flour the outside of dough (it helps to spread the flour over the dough with your hands) and pull into the shape of a ball with a bench scraper. You will need to keep the bench scraper well floured, and it helps to move with small, quick, movements, so the dough does not stick to the scraper. After the dough has been shaped into a ball, cover with a large bowl and let sit for about 1 hour.
7. The dough will spread out. Reflour the outside of the dough, if it looks wet (or use sesame seeds) and shape into a tight ball. Flour the outside of the dough with rice flour and, using the bench scraper, flip the dough into a proofing basket so the bottom is face down. Cover the proofing basket and put somewhere warm.
8. Gently weave the bottom of the dough together, and put something over the bowl that will retain moisture, but not touch the bread. Place somewhere warm to proof.
9. Preheat the oven to 475 Fahrenheit, with a clay baker or dutch oven inside.
10. When poking the dough results in a small divot (the dough springs back but not all the way), tip the dough onto a sheet of parchment paper, and score the dough. This usually takes 60-70 minutes. Using the parchment paper as a sling, transfer the bread to the bottom of the clay baker and put the cover on. Bake for 23 minutes.
11. Remove the top of the clay baker and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
12. Turn the oven off, take the bread out of the oven, peel off the parchment paper, and let the bread sit in the cooling oven until the bread reaches a temperature of 140 Fahrenheit.
- This recipe is pretty forgiving. You can stop the fermentation process at any time by sticking the dough in the fridge (retarding in the fridge for a day or so even improves the result), and if the dough rises too much in the bulk ferment, it’s not a big deal.
- If you use less whole wheat flour you may want to drop the amount of water in the recipe. Higher hydration doughs make better bread but are hard to work with, especially in the initial stages.
- Oven time is approximate. If your dough is tough, bake for less time. If the result is gluey, even if you let the dough cool before cutting it, bake for more time.