63% Hydration Sourdough Bread

16 May 2009
By

I’m forever on the hunt for more good bread recipes. It’s a sickness, I tell you. :) So I gave this recipe a try. The author of the original recipe calls it a 6% hydration bread, but really, if I’m going to get nitpicky, and when doesn’t that happen, I’d point out that, with standard rounding rules, it’s actually a 64% hydration bread. Or I’d tack on decimal points and call it a 63.6% hydration sourdough bread.

If I were sane, I’d stop before any of that even got started. ;)

In the original recipe, this bread was made into a boule. That’s not really practical for my purposes, so I made it into a French bread loaf instead, although I’m now thinking that maybe I should do a boule at least once just to say I did. :)

sourdough French breadIt’s a lean bread (no sugar, fats, milk, etc.) with a chewy crumb and nice flavour. Frankly, I’d even go so far as to say this is a nice French bread, but I’d have to check the *cough* rules to see what the hydration levels are on a French bread.

Right. I’m back. :) According to The Internet, The Source of All Information Anywhere ;), the hydration levels for French bread seem to be fairly consistently in the neighborhood of 60-70%, so, in my mind, this qualifies. :)

  63% Hydration Sourdough Bread

Ingredients

  • 60 grams sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 180 grams water
  • 300 grams flour
  • 6 grams salt

Directions

  1. Mix sourdough starter with water. Add flour and salt and mix until rough. The dough will be sticky.
  2. Cover and let rest 20-30 minutes (to allow for autolyse).
  3. Stretch and fold. Cover and let rest until doubled in volume (about 2-4 hours at 30-35C).
  4. Stretch and fold, then let it relax. Then shape it and place on baking tray. Let rise again until your finger leaves an indentation in the dough (around 1 to 1 1/2 hours at 30-35C).
  5. Place in 230C (450F or gas mark 8) oven and bake until done, about 20-25 minutes. Bread should be golden brown and sound hollow when you thump it.
  6. Let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing into it – it’s still cooking on the inside.

The original recipe called for high gluten flour. I can’t get that here – I have white flour and white flour. No specialties and no idea of the gluten levels. The original recipe also called for higher oven temperatures – my oven is broken and doesn’t get that hot, which also means I don’t get oven spring – that extra rise you get in the oven in the initial stages of baking. That’s not the recipe’s fault – it’s my oven.

I’m not great at shaping. If I were to be more blunt, I’d say I suck. :D I also don’t do too great at slashing – tried sharp knives, tried razor blades – I’m just not very skilled. And yet I keep trying… :D So I end up with at least slightly misshapen mutant bread. Good thing neither the hubby nor I care enough to let it stop us, or, more accurately, me, since he isn’t a bread person, from eating it. :)

And yes, I still have Teh Mad Skillz as a person who writes mad run-on sentences. Hah! :D

Still, even though the bread was flatter rather than higher, I still loved the results. Great taste, great texture. Definitely worth making again. :)

—–

As a side note, I’m planning to post something made with sourdough every Saturday, whether it be bread, cake, pancakes, or something else. It’ll be Sourdough Saturday. More than that, I’d love it if you joined in. Do you cook/bake with suordough? Do you blog about it? Please share your creations, including a permalink to a post about sourdough, in the comments. Let’s share the sourdough love!

Additionally, I’m submitting this post to Yeastspotting, a weekly showcase of breads.

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13 Responses

  1. #1
    rosemerry 

    It’s all in metric and Celsius. They don’t really teach that in America. So I guess I have something to learn now in order to cook your recipes. :) I think there are gram labels on one of my measuring cups. When I get a chance to try one of your recipes I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  2. #2
    Laurie 

    Gram is weight, not volume. Measuring by weight is much better in baking – it’s easier to get the proper end result that the recipe is going for.

    Did you know that, when measuring flour by volume (cups), then weighing those cups, that one cup of flour varies from 100 to 200+ grams of flour depending on the methods the person doing the measuring uses?

    Knowing that, how can you guarantee you’ll get the same results if you measure by cups? And that’s why I go with weight. :)

    If you need a conversion calculator, I use this one. And CookieCal on the iPhone.

  3. #3
    rosemerry 

    I heard of that. I guess I’m going tot have to get myself a good scale. I’ll be doing almost all the cooking after I get married. We have a good arrangement.

  4. Great sourdough French bread, Laurie! Thanks for joining YeastSpotting.

    Susan/Wild Yeast’s last blog post..I Fried and Went to Heaven

  5. #5
    Laurie 

    Hi Susan! Thanks for visiting my blog and thanks for the compliment on the bread. :)

  6. I’m a beginner with sourdough, but I’ve used my starter a handful of times now. I don’t really understand hydration and what’s meant by start at 100% hydration. So much more to learn. Your bread looks great!

    lisaiscooking’s last blog post..Baked Manicotti

  7. #7
    Laurie 

    Lisa, hydration is a term commonly used by professional bakers, which I am not one of, and not by home bakers, but I am a geek. :) Basically, it means that there is an equal amount of both water and flour by weight.

    I keep meaning to do a post on hydration and how it’s calculated. I’ll get to that next week.

    Have you used your starter for bread or do you also use it for other things?

    Thanks for commenting and complimenting!

  8. #8
    Mary 

    This is a handsome loaf of bread by anyone’s standards. I’m, far less technical in my approach but I love to know the “why” of things. I’m anxiously looking forward to your post on hydration. Have a great weekend.

    Mary’s last blog post..Tunisian Semolina Bread – Khubz Mbassis

  9. #9
    Shellyfish 

    Beautiful loaf! I also think you’re a total riot to read – and you obviously know your bread…I know I’ll be back for more laughing and learning (I came from Yeast Spotting…).

  10. #10
    MC 

    What a handsome loaf! It looks so crusty and chewy you want to take a bite right away… Baking with a starter is so much fun, once you start it’s hard to look back.

  11. #11
    Laurie 

    Mary and MC, you’re both so very kind! I think it still needs work, but hey, I’ll take the compliments. :)

    Mary, I used to be an accountant. Can you say “anal retentive”? :D I’ll get the post on hydration up next week. :) Thanks for visiting and commenting. :)

    MC, I’ll never go back to commercial monoculture yeast again, that’s for sure! Sourdough may be less predictable, but I sure do prefer the results! Thanks for stoppying by. :)

  12. #12
    Laurie 

    “A total riot to read” with compliments on my bread, eh? You can stick around as long as you like. :D

    The thing is, I don’t actually know my bread. I have one sweet dough recipe that takes about 16 hours or longer to rise the same amount as this loaf of bread, even when made on the same day from the same just-refreshed sourdough starter. I don’t know why it does that. By geeking out, I’m trying to understand the process better so I can fix that dang recipe. :) I mean, that sweet bread tastes great, has great texture, and it’s perfect for breakfast, so why does it have to be so stubborn and not rise?

    Shellyfish, thanks for visiting. You’ve made my day. :D

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About LMAshton

Howdy and welcome to my site! I'm Laurie and I'll be your, er, hostess today. :)

I'm a Canadian expat currently living in Singapore. I'm married to a Sri Lankan and lived in Sri Lanka for nearly a decade. We also lived in New Zealand for half a year.

I cook Sri Lankan curries, sambols, and mallungs. I bake bread using wild yeast (sourdough that isn't sour). I bake on the stove. I experiment with Indian / Malaysian / Indonesian / Thai / whatever cuisines interest me. And I experiment wildly.

Life is an adventure. Join me! :)

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