The reason why this bread is called Warm Spot Levain is because the sourdough starter is fed three times in a fairly short period of time and then allowed to sit in an 85 degree environment between each feeding. The final levain is stiffer than most (70 percent hydration), and has a uniquely sweet/sour flavor.
You will need three days to make this bread (three days????) but it is worth it.
For my "warm spot," I placed the levain in the garage (it is summer right now). You could also place it in the microwave along with two coffee cups of freshly boiled water, under a heat lamp, or in a gas oven with the light on.
The resulting bread has a super crispy crunchy crust and an amazingly soft, moist interior.
Because making this bread required feeding a levain three times in a short period of time, I had quite a bit of starter left over. Since I hate tossing out that much levain, I used some of the excess to make this Sourdough Polenta Bread.
This bread freezes well. Once it cools, wrap it in foil and then plastic wrap, and freeze it immediately. To thaw, remove the plastic wrap and let it sit in the foil until it has thawed.
White Flour Warm-Spot Levain Bread
Adapted from Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza.
First Levain Feeding
50 grams sourdough starter that has been fed about 24 hours ago
250 g white flour
175 g 85 degree water
Second Levain Feeding
50 g of the first levain
250 g white flour
175 g 80 degree water
Third Levain Feeding
100 g of the second levain
500 g white flour
350 g 85 degree water
750 g white flour
605 g 80 degree F water
20 g fine sea salt
1 g instant yeast
425 g of the levain
- Around 9 am on the first day, mix the first levain with your hand or a spoon and cover with plastic wrap. Place it in a very warm place (85 degree F) to rest.
- Eight hours later, discard (or save for another use) all but 50 g of the levain, and feed it again. Mix with your hand or a spoon, and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a very warm place (85 degrees F) to rest overnight.
- The next morning, discard (or save for another use) all but 100 g of the levain and feed it again with the ingredients listed above under "Third Levain Feeding." Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for 6 hours in a very warm place (85 degrees F). You should have about 2 quarts of levain.
- To make the final dough, mix the white flour and water in a 12 qt bucket or very large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Sprinkle the salt and yeast over the top of the dough and add 425 g of the levain to the bucket/bowl. A scale is essential.
- Mix with your wet hand by alternatively folding and pinching the dough to fully mix in the salt and yeast, as well as incorporate the levain.
- Cover the container, and do four stretch and folds, every 30 minutes. When the dough is 2 1/2 times its original size, about 6 hours later, it's ready to divide and shape.
- Dust your work surface with flour.
- Gently remove the dough onto you work surface, and divide it in half with a bench knife.
- Form the dough into two medium tight balls and place them, seam side down, into two floured proofing baskets. Cover with plastic wrap or place in a plastic bag, and refrigerate overnight, 12 to 14 hours.
- About 45 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F with two empty covered Dutch ovens placed on the middle rack.
- When you are ready to bake, cut parchment into two 9 inch by 15+ inch pieces.
- Remove the Dutch ovens from the oven and remove the tops. One loaf at a time, place the parchment over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, remove the basket, and lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. Repeat with the second loaf.
- Bake covered for 30 minutes, and then remove the Dutch ovens from the hot oven, uncover, and place the loaves on a baking sheet. Be careful not to burn yourself! Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, until the interior of the bread reaches 205 to 210 degrees F and the bread is a deep brown. My loaves were ready sooner, so check early.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
This bread has been Yeastspotted