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Simple Country White Loaf

Prep Time 5 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Bulk Fermentation 12 hours
Total Time 23 hours 10 minutes


  • Kitchen scale
  • Mixing bowl (4 QT)
  • Clean kitchen towels
  • Parchment paper
  • Bread basket or banneton
  • Lame or sharp razor blade
  • Dutch oven


  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 177 g levain (sourdough starter) fed, ripe
  • 290 g water lukewarm
  • 8 g salt non-iodine



  • Fed starter approximately 4-6 hours prior to beginning your autolyse. The starter should be doubled in size before using and pass the 'float test'.
  • For the float test take a dollop of starter and lightly place it into a cup of water. The starter should easily float on top and be buoyant. This is your indication that the starter is ready to be used. With practice, you'll be able to time this 'readiness' with the ending of your autolyse.

Modified Autolyse

  • Once your starter is ready to be used mix a portion of flour (300 g) with 117 g FED levain and water in a large bowl. The water should be lukewarm to the touch. If you dip your fingers in the water and cannot detect it being hot or cold it is the right temperature (the same temperature as you). This is a process that will cut down on ‘knead’ time later and allow your dough to fully hydrate and gluten structures to begin forming.
  • Cover dough and set in refridgerator overnight (approximately 12 hours).

Mix the dough

  • Add remaining flour (200 g) to autolyse and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  • Add salt and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Bulk Fermentation

  • Perform a counter lamination. Gently stretch the dough over the counter (being careful to stretch from the center of the dough and not the edge to avoid tearing). The result should be a large rectangle. Fold the left side in two-third across the dough. Fold the right side over it to make one skinny rectangle, with the dough tripled over itself. Beginning at the top fold down approximately halfway and repeat until the dough had become bundled. Cover and allow to rest for 1 hour.
  • Perform 1-3 coil folds (seperated by 45-60m) until the passes the poke test and windowpane test. 
  • The poke test indicates that the dough is proofed and ready. Using an oiled finger gentle press into the dough. The dough should spring back, but leave an indentation. If the dough springs back completely the dough is not proof enough. If the dough does not spring back the dough is overproofed.
  • For the windowpane test take a small piece of dough and stretch it between your thumb and first finger. The dough should hold its form and create a sheer 'windowpane'. If the dough tears the gluten structure is not strong enough and it will need more stretching.

Shaping the dough

  • Shape loaf and place in banneton for 2h room-temp rise.
  • Option 1, flour directly in front of the dough and flip the dough away from you (onto the flour). Tug out the top of the dough and fold it onto itself. Repeat with the side and bottom. Cup dough and gently pull it toward you, creating a neat loaf with tension across the top. Allow the dough to rest, seam-side down, for 10 minutes. Place the dough into a floured and prepared banneton, seam-side up. Flour the exposed dough, cover with a clean towel.
  • Option 2, using the outer edge of lightly flour hands circle the dough, gently tucking it under itself with the rotation, to form a tight, round boule. Allow the dough to rest, seam-side down, for 10 minutes. Place the dough into a floured and prepared banneton, seam-side up. Flour the exposed dough, cover with a clean towel.

Prepping your dough for baking

  • Preheat your oven as high is it will go (500°) and place your dutch oven into the bottom of the oven. Leave for one hour. Cut a parchment round the approximate size of your dough, adding a small radius to give you a 'handle' for moving the dough later.
  • Once the oven is up to temperature (after an hour) turn the dough out onto the parchment paper. Flour liberally and rub the flour into the dough. This will give a smooth contrast to your scores after the bread is baked.
  • Using the corner of a lame or a sharp razor blade score deeply into the loaf (1/4 to 1/2 inch), cutting through the surface tension.


  • Lift the dough (by the parchment paper handles) into the dutch over. Cover and bake for 25 minutes with the lid on. This will create steam that keeps that outer edge of the bread from setting too quickly. If the outer edge sets too quickly it will inhibit the oven spring, resulting in a dense crumb. Oven spring final burst of yeast activity and gas expansion (rising) just before the crust hardens.
  • Uncover and bake until the top is deep golden and the bottom knocks hollow.
  • Turn off oven and leave loaf in spoon-cracked [off] oven to dry out for 60m.