It finally worked!!!! I have been stressing out all morning because my float test was failing! But finally at 5:00PM my float test finally worked. The reason why the leaven needs to float is because of the gas formation that has been occurring all night. Essentially, the gas formation is what is keeping it afloat.
Now that I have explained that, my directions are:
Discard half of your leaven, add 1⁄2 plus 1⁄3 of a cup of the flour mix and a little more than 1⁄3 of a cup of water and mix to combine. Allow the culture to ferment for 21⁄2 hours and repeat the float test. Your leaven is ready if it floats. (Why do you do this? Because the overnight leaven will have fermented for a longer period and its flavor will be more acidic. You are trying to remove some of this by creating a younger leaven)
If everything is successful, you will hear from me in 2 and a half hours. Cross your fingers.
Float test #2 was successful! Time to make that DOUGH!
To make the DOUGH, combine 1⁄2 a cup of your leaven with 11⁄2 cups of lukewarm water, 31⁄2 cups of bread flour, 1⁄3 of a cup of whole wheat flour in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly and set aside for 30 minutes.
I noticed that each time I turned the dough, the top part was a little harder than the bottom. Turning the dough every thirty minutes prevents the dough from hardening during this prep time.
After 30 MINUTES, add 31⁄2 teaspoons of kosher salt to the dough and mix. If needed, you may add more water (possibly as much as 1⁄4 of a cup if the dough is breaking up). For the next 4 hours, you should check on your culture every 30 minutes. Each time, you should turn your dough over inthe bowl by lifting the bottom to the top a few times. This is considered a gentle kneading/mixing of the dough. You will notice the dough becomes softer and well aerated and you do not want to disturb this softness or billowiness too much.
You may wonder why add Kosher Salt?
In short, adding kosher salt makes it less sticky, reduces oxidation, and most importantly helps fermentation go at a constant rate.
After 4 HOURS, gently remove the dough out of the bowl and onto your lightly-floured kitchen counter. Lift the edges of the dough inward towards the center making a ball shape while trying to keep the flour on the outside (crust-side) of your ball. You want to make a tight ball but you do not want the dough to tear. Just keep shaping the dough gently in this way until you have a smooth, tight ball. Leave the dough on the counter to rest for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, your ball will have flattened slightly and spread on the countertop.
For the FINAL form, lightly flour the surface of the slightly flattened ball of dough. Flip the dough over so the floured side is now underneath. Stretch the right side of the dough without tearing and fold over to the left side of the dough (like folding it in half). Repeat this stretching and folding process in a clockwise fashion, stretching next from bottom to top, then from the left over the right and finally from the top to the bottom. You will have folded the dough four times in the end. You should be mindful to be as gentle as possible always maintaining as much of the softness and aeration as possible. Place a fresh kitchen towel in a clean large bowl. Dust the kitchen towel with some rice flour onto the kitchen towel. Transfer your shaped dough onto the kitchen towel with the seam-side up (smooth side down). Gently cover the dough with the ends of the kitchen towel and allow another 3 hours for the dough to rise.
Kneading dough helps develop gluten, and this step was especially fun!
Stay tuned tomorrow for a picture of my bread and feel free to come over for breakfast. We’re having sourdough.