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72-hour sour dough


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  • Starter, Day One:
  • (Makes one 2-pound round boule)
  • 1/2 packed cup (2.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, room temperature
  • Starter, Day Two:
  • 1/2 packed cup (2.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water plus 2 tablespoons, room temperature
  • Final dough, Day Three:
  • 3 1/2 packed cups (17.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 cup water, room temperature



Step 1

1 Prepare starter 72 hours before you plan to serve the bread. In 1-quart bowl, stir together flour (I use Bob's Red Mill organic unbleached), yeast and water. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.

2 After 24 hours, stir in the additional flour and water. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.

3 Start final dough 24 hours before you plan to serve the bread. In medium bowl (I use a straight-sided 4-quart glass bowl so I can easily tell when the dough has doubled), whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add starter and water to flour and stir with dough whisk or large spoon until dough just comes together into a shaggy dough (fairly stiff, but still sticky). Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 19 hours on countertop.

4 Place a square of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet (which will act as a "peel" later). Sprinkle 1/8 cup flour over the parchment. Scrape the dough out onto the floured parchment. Put a little of the flour on top of the dough and with floured hands, press dough lightly into a 10-inch square. Fold it in thirds like a letter; then fold that rectangle into thirds, forming a square. Pick up the ball of dough and tuck the edges under, forming the dough into a smooth ball. Place the ball back on the parchment. Turn a large glass bowl over it, or cover it loosely with an oiled or cooking-sprayed piece of plastic wrap.

5 Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It will spread as well as rise and not appear to rise very high. Not to worry! It will rise in the oven (called oven spring) and be a lovely, well-risen loaf.

6 When you’ve got about 30 to 45 minutes left, place oven rack in lower-middle position and place pizza stone or Lodge Pro-Logic 14-Inch Cast Iron Pizza Pan on rack. Preheat oven to 475 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

7 Brush the excess flour off the parchment, cut a "+" about 1/4-inch deep on the top* and slide the boule on its parchment square onto the hot stone. Reduce temperature to 425. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf is 210 degrees. If it's getting too brown, cover loosely with foil.

8 Remove from oven, using the rimless baking sheet or pizza peel to lift the boule off the pizza stone. Let cool on wire rack for 1 1/2 hours. If not eating right away, you can re-crisp crust at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. It's best the day it is baked but can be kept, wrapped in foil, at room temperature for up to 2 days (makes great toast). Makes one loaf.

9 My favorite way of slicing* a boule is to cut the loaf in half, turn the cut side down and slice, but you can make long slices if you like.

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