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Err and Variations »

Today we start our sourdough with the exact same formula that we've used for Basic Bread and Poolish.

Remember in the Poolish recipe we took 1/3 of the flour and prefermented it with an equal weight of water.

This allowed us to flavor the entire loaf with the extra 16 hours that the poolish fermented.

Our sourdough has been fermenting for weeks. If you've been feeding it daily (or, as I do, twice daily) it has a beautiful smell and is full of bubbles and activity.

So tonight when we feed the sourdough, instead of dumping out some of it, we start a second container.

Our poolish was 140 g of flour and 140 g of water or 280 g all together.

We need our second container to have at least 280 g of sourdough when we are done. To be sure, add about two tablespoons of the active starter to 140 g of flour and 140 g of water and stir it up and cover it loosely in a warm spot overnight.

We do NOT add a pinch of yeast to this as we did for the poolish. Now I'm not religious about this. You can still use the sourdough for flavor and use yeast in a recipe. But I want you to feel the full magic of the sourdough - you've captured yeast out of the air and we're going to use it to bake with. So don't add yeast to this dough at any step.

Also, don't forget to feed your regular sourdough starter. We'll bake more bread another day.

The next day, your baking sourdough should be ready. Overnight that little amount of sourdough has transformed the flour and water and it should be much more fragrant than the poolish was.

Let's mix the dough. Just as with the poolish, you need the rest of the flour (280 g), the rest of the water (160 g), and the 8 g ( 1 1/2 teaspoons) of salt. No yeast.

Knead it as before. The dough should feel the same.

In my house, with my sourdough, this took a lot longer to rise.

It took 2 - 3 hours to rise the same amount the poolish or basic bread did in 1 hour. Keep a watch on yours - it's not crucial that you time this perfectly. After a couple of hours, I gave it a fold and let it rise another 2-3 hours.

Shape it into a round loaf (or whatever shape you like).

At this point I looked at the clock and decided that in 2 - 3 hours it would be too late for me to want to bake the bread so I refrigerated the covered loaf. You can let it rise a final time on your counter and bake it today.

Preheat the oven to 460 degrees F / 235 degrees C and bake the bread as before.

Your kitchen should smell different this time. It's the fresh baked bread smell but also the sour smell of sourdough.

Let the bread cool before eating and enjoy.

Next time we'll talk about adjustments and variations.