Sourdough is typical of artisanal baking: the art of encouraging wild yeast cultures to ferment just at the right time and for so long you could probably read War and Peace. I have worked with many bakers who are so proud to boast of starters that have been in the family business for generations.
The varieties of sourdoughs are unique, depending on the catalyst starter, type of flour used and also geographical location. All these factors will impact on flavour and texture. San Francisco Sourdough is a good example of this, as the wild yeast culture Lactobacillus sanfrancisco in that region gives a sharper, more acetic punch than a typical French levain.
The recipe below is made with an authentic wild yeast starter culture called crème de levain, a ready-made live starter culture ideal for artisanal loaves.

Sourdough Boule
Levain Ferment
French T65 Flour5,760g
Doves Farm Rye Flour240g
Light Malt Flour30g
Crème de Levain (Fermex)600g
Weigh ingredients accurately and place into mixer. Then mix the ferment on a spiral mixer on slow speed for two minutes and a further one to two minutes on second speed. The ferment should be under-developed but clear. Dough temperature should be around 20ºC.
Place into a lightly oiled lidded container and ferment at ambient temperature for at least 24 hours. The ferment is ready to use in the levain dough.

Levain Dough (makes 22)
Levain Ferment9,630g
French T65 Flour800g
Fresh Yeast68g

1. Weigh ingredients accurately and place into mixer. Develop dough on a spiral mixer on slow speed only for at least four to six minutes. Dough temperature should be around 22ºC.
2. Divide at 480g and round into boules.
3. Ensure you give the proving tray a good dusting of cornmeal or rice cones before setting the boule on the tray. This will allow for easy transfer from the baker’s peel to the oven when proved.
4. Place in the prover at 22ºC, relative humidity 65%, for at least 3 hours or until fully proved.
5. Using a knife or razor cut four diagonal scores.
6. Transfer to a baker’s peel and place directly on the stone sole of the oven. Add a little steam. Bake at 230ºC for at least 24 minutes. Open the damper after 18 minutes.

l Useful links
For any further recipe information, bespoke training requirements or NPD please contact Wayne Caddy, The Essential Baker.