John's Ridiculously Springy Bread

Rev 0.25, last revised:  14-Dec-05

[Caution:  This recipe is still under construction--steal at your own risk!]

This recipe was posted onto a bread baking news group by a good friend.  Although he insists on making these insipid yeast based breads, I'll forgive him that transgression if he'll forgive mine for converting his gem to this far more "proper" sourdough recipe using our more common volumetric measurements.

Lean rustic SOURDOUGH, warm preferment, 2 days to make.

Yield - 2 large loaves (~850 gm each)

Day 1:  The Sponge (the night before)

Make the sponge by whisking together the starter, water, and flour.  Put in warm place and allow to ferment overnight (~8-12 hours) at or as near to 85F (29C) as possible.

Day 1:  The Soaker (a bit later the night before)

Mix all ingredients, cover, and leave to soak while your sponge is working (at least 4-hours).

Day 2:  The Dough (early morning of the next day)

Mix together the flour and the salt.  Dry mix to distribute.  Add the soaker to the sponge, and the flour & salt mixture to that as well.  Mix it all together roughly in most any fashion until all the flour has been mixed in and appears hydrated.  It's okay for the dough to be lumpy or otherwise not completely smooth.  This should take less than a minute by any method.  Scrape onto a well floured counter, roll in flour until the dough can be handled and perform a stretch and fold cycle; let dough rest for 30-minutes between cycles.  Do at least 4-6 times.

Keep the use of additional flour to a minimum.

Shape into the final loaf (dividing into smaller loaves if desired), and allow to rise in a draft-free place.  Out of convenience, I use my COLD oven.  Allow to rise, 2X or so.  Turn oven ON to 450F and bake until smartly browned and done...about 30-45 minutes.  Remove when done and allow to cool before slicing.

If you have a small oven, like I do, I remove one loaf (when done rising) while I bake the other.  For those that insist that only a very hot pre-heated oven will work, you might be well surprised at the difference in results from a hot start as opposed to a cold start...  Do that once, and you'll probably never go back to pre-heating.

I bake into a cold oven, and since this is still an experimental recipe, I'm leaving John's original instructions appended below while I work out the mechanics of doing this "my-way".  Besides, by having a ready reference, I'll be able to try both ways until I work things out...

Preheat oven to 550F (290C).  Leave to proof until just about doubled, tip out onto whatever device you use to move the dough to the oven, slash and bake at flat max, on stones, turning down to 425F (220C) after 15 minutes.  Cooking time about 45 minutes, to an internal temp of 201F (94C).

Very elastic, long keeping, deeply flavored bread with a crust that gladdens a baker's heart.