Levain Cool-Raised Sourdough Bread

Well this week for my sourdough baking I decided to pull out a recipe I haven't used for a while - one that has a slow, cool raise just from the levain in the sourdough starter.  I must note though, if you are going to try this recipe you are going to need a very active sourdough starter.  I found the best one that works for me is the San Francisco Sourdough starter from Cultures for Health.  I made it a whole wheat starter by adding freshly ground hard whole wheat to it when I started it instead of following the directions to just add white flour and it has been my sourdough workhorse ever since.

Here is what you will need to make this recipe:
2.5 cups freshly fed THICK levain (see instructions below)
3 cups cool water
7.5 cups hard whole wheat flour, freshly ground
1 Tablespoon salt

To prep the Thick levain, the night before you make this bread take your starter out and dump 3/4 cup of starter into a bowl with 2 cups of hard whole wheat flour plus 1 cup cool water (this is additional flour and water to that which will be added on later in the recipe) .  Cover this mixture and let the levain grow overnight.

Evening mix - solid mass
Morning transformation - light and fluffy

In the morning, mix together the rest of the ingredients, as much as you can by hand and then knead in the rest of the flour.  You will find this process much easier if you use a mixer with bread kneading attachment/paddle since the dough is very sticky and you will have a tendency to put too much flour into the recipe if kneading by hand.  Knead by machine for 10 minutes - 20 minutes by hand.

Cover the dough with flour, cover it in a bowl, and allow it to raise for 3 hours in a cool place.

Gently cut the dough into 4 pieces, barely handling it, and put rounds onto 4 parchment sheets.

Let these rounds raise again for about 2.5 hours.

Slash loaves while preheating oven to 450F. Bake at 450F for 15 minutes and then bake another 30 minutes at 400F.

Remove and enjoy!


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