Long Fermented sourdough is sourdough that is bulk fermented for longer than 8 hours. This method of fermentation can help improve your baking schedule, make your bread easier to digest, and adds so much more flavor. I discovered this hack when I was working at an office and wanted to bake bread around my schedule. By long fermenting my dough I was able to prepare bread whenever I had the time and stick it in the fridge for when baking was most convenient. In order for you to start baking sourdough on your schedule, it is important to understand the ins and outs of this long fermentation process.
Why long-fermented sourdough?
More fermentation = Easier to digest
Dough that is fermented for longer is easier to digest because the fermentation process breaks down the gluten structure of the bread. This makes long-fermented sourdough a great option for gluten-sensitive bread lovers.
Longer fermentation is more convenient
In order to long ferment dough, we leave it in the fridge for several days. This simple method gives the baker a great amount of freedom as to when they bake and when they prep their dough. For example, if you are wanting fresh bread for a dinner party on Friday but are very busy during the week leading up to it, prep your dough on Sunday afternoon and allow it to cold ferment for 5 days before baking on Friday afternoon.
Longer fermentation results in more developed flavor and texture
When the dough is fermented for longer it becomes more tangy and complex in flavor which of course gives us a more delicious end result. Long-fermented sourdough usually has a better structure and texture as well.
How to make long-fermented sourdough bread
Any sourdough recipe can be turned into a long-fermented recipe. This can be done by extending the existing cold ferment for several days. If a recipe does not have a cold ferment, you can extend the proof at room temperature for a few hours or you can add a long cold ferment before you bake. Ultimately, this will take practice and skill to master so play around with different times and see what works best for your bread and your schedule.
Long Fermented Sourdough Bread Recipe
- 150 g Active, bubbly sourdough starter
- 300 g warm filtered water
- 450 g unbleached bread flour you can also mix rye or whole wheat, as long as it equals to 450 g
- 10 g natural mineral salt
- Measure and sift flour into a large bowl
- Measure and add starter and water into a separate bowl and mix until starter mostly dissolves into water
- Pour the mixture into the large flour bowl and mix until the water is mostly absorbed
- When the flour is mostly incorporated with the water, cover and rest for 30 minutes (this is the autolyse) You can use a longer amount of time for more fermentation benefits
- Add salt to the dough and use your hands to incorporate all the ingredients by kneading. To keep dough from sticking, keep your hands wet when handling the dough.
- Cover your dough with a moist towel (or clean shower cap)
- Perform your first stretch and fold and repeat every 15 minutes for one hour
- Perform stretch and folds every 30 minutes for the two following hours
- After the stretch and folds are done, cover and allow to bulk ferment for a few hours or until doubled in size
- Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and pre-shape into 1 medium ball (or two small ones) Allow to rest for 15-20 minutes
- Shape into a loaf and transfer into a floured banneton (colander lined with a floured tea towel)
- Cover with a damp tea towel or clean shower cap and place in the fridge for 2-5 days
- When you are ready to bake, place your baker and lid in a cold oven
- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F for about 30 minutes
- Gently turn your dough out, seam side down, onto baking paper
- Score your dough as you like and using the baking paper, lift the dough into the preheated baker and cover it with the lid. Place inside the oven
- Bake the loaf covered in the oven for 25 minutes
- Remove lids after 25 minutes, turn your oven down to 475, and allow to bake for another 10 minutes or until the loaves reach the color you like. I like to strive for a dark caramel color but try not to burn the ears!
- Pull out your loaf once it reaches your desired color and allow to cool for atleast 2 hours before slicing