My experiments using the autolyse process have all worked very well and I have now adopted it in preference to the sponge method for my better and best sourdough recipes, leaving the basic sourdough recipe (which never used the sponge method) unchanged. I have now started on a minor update to the second addition of Sourdough Bread Made Easy to reflect this change.
I will note the changes I make on this blog and provide the updated recipes. So to get the ball rolling this is my revised Better Sourdough recipe:
400g strong white bread flour
225ml filtered water at room temperature
100ml sourdough starter at room temperature
1 tsp sea salt (optional)
Mix the water and sourdough starter in a measuring jug.
Put the flour in a mixing bowl, then gently mix the water and sourdough into the flour, cover it with a tea towel and leave it to autolyze for 30 minutes.
Remove the tea towel, add the salt dissolved in a little water if required and complete the mixing of the dough for around five minutes until a nice gluten structure is formed. You can use the stretch and fold method or even a machine with a dough hook for this.
Put the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover and leave it to ferment overnight in a cool place.
In the morning turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, knock it back, stretch and fold, then shape the dough into the desired shape and place it in a bread tin or baking sheet. Dust the loaf with flour, cover with a tea towel and leave it to prove in a warm place for two to three hours until nearly doubled in size.
Slash the top of the loaf with a sharp knife and put it on a low shelf in the oven. Put 100ml of water in an ovenproof dish in the bottom of the oven and set the oven to 230oC, 190oC Fan, 450oF, or gas mark 8. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes once the oven has come up to temperature or until the crust is golden, then turn the oven off and leave the bread in the cooling oven, with the door open for another 5 minutes. Then turn the loaf out onto a rack to cool for at least an hour before slicing.
By the way: I have just realised that my title for this post has a double meaning for me: it is my posting for December 2021 and December 21st will also be my 78th birthday (assuming I get through my next Immunotherapy session OK).