Sour Cream Loaf

I’ve garnered a wealth of bread-making knowledge from many sources, the most influential being Dan Lepard and Ken Forkish. I decided to combine a Lepard recipe and Forkish technique to bake one of the best breads so far – the sour cream loaf. It has a delicious, tangy faux sourdough flavour and makes the most amazing toast.

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Sour Cream Loaf

7 – 9 hours prep (mostly unattended)
40-45 mins cook
Easy
1 x 900g loaf
Toasted with marmalade

The method below is based on a recipe in Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast by Ken Forkish. I highly recommend this book, it covers every aspect of his bread making, including measuring water and dough temperatures with a digital thermometer to get the best, consistent loaf possible. If that’s appealing, check out his book or YouTube channel.

The method below is what works in our kitchen without needing to go to that level of detail, whilst staying true to Ken’s approach (and Dan’s recipe). The result is great bread every time.

Equipment

A banneton is a shallow container used for proving dough before baking it (pictured below), and is what gives loaves those neat looking rings of flour. If you don’t have a banneton, you can use a flat-bottomed shallow kitchen bowl (or fruit bowl) lined with a well floured kitchen towel.

Dough proving in a banneton prior to baking

Ingredients

  • 600g strong white bread flour
  • 325ml warm water (200ml cold/125ml boiling)
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 1 tsp dried yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar

Method

Mixing and Fermentation

In this part you manipulate the dough with slightly wet hands to stop the dough sticking to them. It’s fine to re-wet your hands if necessary.

  1. Add the sour cream to the warm water and mix together in a measuring jug to form a cloudy, milky liquid.
  2. Put the flour into the mixing bowl. Pour the water/sour cream liquid into the flour and mix together to form a sticky dough ball, first with a wet spatula and then wet hands. Cover and leave for 30 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the yeast, sugar and salt onto the dough. Wet your hands and dig down under the dough, folding it back onto itself four or five times. Gently squeeze the dough all over, then stretch and fold it onto itself six to eight times. Cover the bowl and let it rest for 2 mins.
  4. Repeat the stretch and fold action until the dough starts to resist. Cover the bowl and leave for 15 mins.
  5. Repeat the stretch and fold action until the dough starts to resist. Cover the bowl and leave for a longer period, 45 mins to 60 mins.
  6. Repeat the stretch and fold action or until the dough starts to resist. Cover the bowl and leave until the dough has trebled in size. This takes between five and seven hours depending on ambient room temperature.Dough before and after fermentation

Shaping and Proving

  1. Dust a banneton with flour. Sprinkle some flour onto a clean work surface, then with floured hands and/or a dough scraper, gently decant the dough from the bowl onto the surface.
  2. Gently stretch and fold the dough back onto itself a three or four times, forming it into a ball. Then cup the ball with your hands on the other side of the dough ball and drag it towards yourself for 6 inches. Rotate a quarter turn and repeat. Do this until the ball has some good surface tension, three or four times.
  3. Place the ball of dough seam side down (not up) in the banneton. When the dough expands during baking the natural crack of the seam splits for that cool artisan look. Sprinkle some flour over the dough, cover the banneton and leave it for 45 minutes. Commence pre-heating to bake the bread (see next section).

Baking The Bread

Caution: always use heat-resistant gloves when manipulating items directly from an oven. Do not have the oven hotter than the recommended maximum temperature for your equipment.
  1. Place the cooking vessel (Dutch oven or casserole dish) inside the oven or Big Green Egg (indirect setup). Pre-heat to the highest temperature your cooking vessel can be used at, up to 245°C/475°F.
  2. When the dough is ready, remove the cooking vessel from the oven/Egg. Carefully turn the dough out of the banneton onto a floured worksurface. Then using heat-resistant gloves, pick up the dough from underneath and place it into the cooking vessel. Put the lid on the vessel and return to the oven/Egg.
    • If you have a cooking vessel with a flat lid, you can invert it and place the dough directly into the lid. Please see this blog post for further information.
  3. Bake for 20 min with the lid on, then remove the vessel’s lid and bake for another 20-25 mins until the loaf is a dark golden brown colour.
Freshly baked loaf cooled from the oven
Soft bread cut and ready to be toasted for breakfast

Hints, Tips and Pictures

  1. Please see the Crusty Artisan Bread and Inverted Dutch Oven bread blog posts for hints, tips and pictures of how to get the most out of this loaf.
  2. This video shows Ken Forkish performing the shaping, this stage is key to getting a dough that doesn’t collapse when it is added to the oven to cook.
  3. As this is a dutch oven recipe, it is suitable for cooking the loaf in a Big Green Egg.

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