Dovely Bakery’s The ‘Poplars’ Sourdough Loaf

By Alice Dove, of Dovely Bakery

Many thanks to Alice for this recipe. Dovely Bakery make a fortnightly donation of beautiful sourdough loaves to Wellingborough Daylight Centre, including this batch of part-wholemeal loaves made using a Solidarity Bag of Scotland The Bread flour. You can donate to our Flour to the People Solidarity Fund here, or apply for a free bag of organic STB flour for your community bakery or organisation here

Photo credit also to Dovely Bakery.

The ‘Poplars’ Sourdough Loaf

Makes two loaves of 950g each

Tip for increasing the proportion of wholemeal flour: lower the hydration and lengthen the prove.

You will need:
A Dutch oven for baking, (a casserole oven pot with lid will do) or pizza type oven that reaches minimum temp of 260C and steam provider, a tinfoil bowl will do
Large mixing bowl
Dough scraper
Weighing scales
A basket or banneton, a colander or bowl will do with a tea towel as a liner
Sharp knife or blade for scoring, not vital
Fridge space for the overnight prove
Temperature gauge
Active sourdough starter

110g white sourdough starter, at 100 percent hydration, bubbling with activity
730g cold water
540g organic strong white bread flour
510g organic fine ground, long stemmed, preferably Scotland the Bread wholemeal flour
20g salt

Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl, the wet ones first. Knead until all ingredients are incorporated, ensuring you have checked all the way through underneath.

Leave to rest and absorb the water for 30-60 minutes, then knead hard, for 5 minutes, in or out of the bowl, don’t add any more flour. This part is sticky!

Stretch and fold the dough, at all angles, rotating the bowl, ensuring that the starter is right through all the wheat and that the gluten is beginning to develop, showing as elasticity.

You will in total for this first stage, leave the dough to prove for 7-8 hours at a temperature of around 23 degrees.

During this time leave in the mixing bowl, covered with a board or plate, to keep moist, and twice in the first 3-4 hours stretch and fold the dough several times, pulling it and folding in half each way, over or under. Just for 30-45 seconds, it should start to come together and leave the bowl clean when you pull at it.

When it has finished proving for those 7-8 hours it should be about one and a half times bigger than when you started, and puffy. With a floury finger gently press a dimple into the surface and it should very slowly rise back up and flatten, over about 10 seconds. The dough should feel a little elastic and spongy. What you can’t see but can detect, is that it has a lot of air pockets in it making it lighter than before as well as bigger!

Now scrape all the dough out and cut into two even halves. Shape your loaves.

For each: flour the surface of your dough, as it lays on the worktop, then firmly scrape and pick up the dough with the dough scraper and turn on its back, now pull a little wider carefully with the sticky side facing you, careful not to knock too much air out, fold over one side then the other and stick down, bring all the sticky messy sides together in a series of folds, as through you are creating an envelope, then roll it up into a stubby sausage, and press the ends closed, place in the basket floury side down (this will be your top tomorrow morning!).

Put the two loaves in the fridge and leave overnight until tomorrow morning bake time!

In the morning, before you remove the loaf or loaves from the fridge: if you have space for two Dutch ovens get them both in the oven on 270 celsius and wait until they are at full temperature, if you can only fit one in then the second loaf will wait happily in the fridge for a few more hours.

Once at full temperature, tip the loaf out turning it the right way up again, onto a shaped piece of non stick baking parchment or re-usable bakeoglide cut into a shape that fits your pot, score the surface of the dough to allow for oven spring and this is when you can make a pretty design – be fairly quick as it may start to sag and drift! – now being careful because of the heat, pop the dough into the casserole pot, close it and place back in the hot oven for 20 minutes to steam whilst baking. If at this stage you are using a pizza type oven, ease it in on its parchment and place a tray of water next to it to create steam, or spray water, near it, then seal the oven.

Now for the reveal! After 20 minutes, lift and remove the lid or pot, open the oven, let out the steam, and reveal the loaf! Bake for a further 15-20 minutes until golden depending how dark you like your loaf!

You should always leave your loaf to cool down fully for about an hour before cutting it, otherwise you can cause it to dry out and go off faster.

Storage: keep the bread covered only in a cloth or paper, do not seal it. It’ll keep for up to a week. It freezes really well, best on day 1, only then should you seal it – once out of the freezer treat as fresh bread.

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