Making a Beautiful Sourdough Boule

Whoever wrote the immortal words “good things come to those who wait,” was absolutely correct. The most important quality I stress when preparing Chad Robertson’s sourdough boule from his San Francisco based bakery, Tartine, is patience. Watch my YouTube videos (at the bottom of this post) as I demonstrate the process.

Yes, making this bread is certainly a time commitment, but it’s worth the work and wait. My bread guru and food stylist pal, Suzanne Lenzer — who originally put the bug in my bread basket by sharing her streamlined version of the recipe that she wrote for the NYT back in 2014 — taught me how worthwhile time spent making bread can be.

The beauty of this bread is that it’s made with very few ingredients. Flour, water, and salt to be exact. The yeast used is natural yeast, found everywhere; in the air, in the flour, and on your hands. Begin by making the starter. A simple combination of flour, water, daily feedings, and time all mixed together with your hands. When your starter is happy, lively, and bubbling along, it’s ready to go. Lots of things are exciting out there, but for me, seeing a starter come to life is simply thrilling.

The next step is making the leaven, which is a combination of starter, water, and more flour. Left covered overnight at room temperature, it will aerate and puff, which the leaven’s way of telling you that it’s ready to be made into dough. The dough is made by combining the leaven with water, more flour, and eventually fine sea salt. From here, the dough is folded every half hour over a 3-hour period, then worked into rounds, transferred to a work surface, and left to rise for a little longer. After another short rise, the dough is transferred to bread proofing baskets to complete the fermentation process, which will take an addition 3 to 4 hours, or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Once ready to bake, the dough is turned out into a heated Dutch oven, scored with a baker’s lame, and baked to a shade of beautiful deep mahogany perfection.

I put together three videos to show the most important steps in the process of making the Sourdough Boule bread. Enjoy!

Part 1: The Starter

Part 2: Shaping the Dough

Part 3: Into (and out of) the Oven

Email questions and comments to:

–Chef Diana Andrews 

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