Swedish Sourdough Bread from Scratch
Mikael Vejdemo-Johansson and Susanne Vejdemo
Based on reading a whole bunch of different Swedish blog, wiki and web sources, we started off a sourdough starter on Saturday:
1 apple (grated)
1dl filtered water
Stir until vaguely homogenous. Let it sit with a lid leaned on but not tight fitting.
Stir every morning and every evening for 4 days, feeding it on day 2 (with 20g flour 20g water).
Already on Sunday we could see a bunch of bubbles forming in the dough. We gave up on weighing everything, and fed the dough with 1tbsp filtered water and 2tbsp flour. Monday was far less bubbly and Tuesday afternoon MVJ lost patience and fed it with 2dl flour, 1dl filtered water.
Tuesday evening the dough was quite bubbly and about ready to climb out of its Tupperware box.
Wednesday, we started using the dough to try to recreate one of our very favorite breads – the Levain from Fabrique ( https://www.femina.se/sa-bakar-du-fabriques-goda-levainbrod/ – recipe in Swedish )
For 2 loaves:
600g active sourdough
1.5tbsp coarse sea salt
Pour the sourdough in a bowl. Add water, yeast and flour. Stir into a sticky dough and let it rest 30 minutes (autolysis). Add the sea salt and knead for 5 minutes by machine until the salt is dissolved and the dough a bit tenser. Rise in oiled bowl, covered, 45-60 minutes. It’s supposed to double in size. Exact time varies with room temperature, water temperature, how active your sourdough is, and phase of the moon 😉
Next perform a “full fold”: fold the dough 4x in the bowl: take the left side, fold to the middle. Next the right side, then the bottom and finally the top. The dough should feel tenser. Rise 20-40 minutes so that the dough relaxes. Another full fold, another 20 minutes rise.
Now perform a “half fold”: only do the top-to-middle and bottom-to-middle folds. Take the dough out of the bowl and place it on a well-floured surface. Add flour on top to make the dough easier to handle. Separate into two pieces and shape them into oblong loaves. Sprinkle some flour on top to prevent them burning in the oven. Let rise 10-20 minutes, until they have gained some height and feel soft and smooth. After this final rise, turn them upside down (for a prettier bread) and put them on baking paper on a baking sheet. You can decorate them by cutting a few shallow cuts on the top.
Bake 20-30 minutes at 500ºF. It’s good to add a bowl of water at the bottom of the oven. It is important (when possible) to use top and bottom heating elements.
We decide to do half the recipe: make 1 loaf of bread. 300g sourdough, 1 cup filtered water, some yeast and 8dl bread flour later, the autolysis is on its way and it’s time for the first of many many breaks in this recipe. Picking out the equivalent of 3.5g fresh yeast from a packet with dry yeast – not an easy task. We settled on approximately ½ tsp dry yeast.
The rest followed the recipe quite closely – out came a slightly flat-looking loaf of dough, maybe 1.5” thick. Rise and pop in the oven. 20 minutes later, the bread had ballooned up to a 4” height, and 30 minutes later the internal temperature came out to well over 190ºF – the bread was finished.
The resulting bread was divine. Chewy with large bubbles, crunchy crust, and a pleasantly subtly complex flavour.
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