Adapted by StarChefs.com
February 2015
Yield: 1 loaf


Stiff Levain
125 grams high-extraction flour
75 grams 70°F water
12 grams mature levain
Final Dough
500 grams high-extraction flour, plus additional as needed
425 grams 75°F water
12 grams kosher salt
Whole rye flour


Stiff Levain

In a nonreactive container, mix all ingredients. Cover with a cloth. Ferment 12 hours at 72°F, or until ripe.

Final Dough

To a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, add flour and water. Mix on first speed until combined. Cover with a cloth and rest 45 to 60 minutes. Add salt and 200 grams Stiff Levain. Mix on first speed until salt is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Mix on second speed until dough is well developed, about 2 to 3 minutes. Desired dough temperature is 75°F. Transfer to an oiled bin, cover with a cloth, and ferment 1 hour at 80°F. Fold dough, return to bin, cover, and ferment 1 hour at 80°F. The dough should nearly double in volume. If more time seems necessary, fold again, and ferment 30 minutes more.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Gently degas and round dough into a boule. Let the shaped dough rest 30 minutes. Place a kitchen towel on a cutting board and cover liberally with whole rye flour. Flip boule onto the floured surface, degas and round into a boule. Place the final shape on the prepared kitchen towel and proof about 2 hours in a warm, humid place. Cover with a large bowl to keep it from drying out.

Heat oven to 500°F. Twenty minutes before baking, place a 5-quart Dutch oven in the oven. Dust top of loaf with whole rye flour and invert in the Dutch oven and secure lid. Lower temperature to 450°F and bake 15 minutes. Remove cover and continue baking uncovered for 45 minutes. If bread seems to be taking on too much color, oven temperature may be lowered for the final 15 minutes. But the high hydration of the dough demands a thorough bake. The crust color should be a deep, dark reddish brown, just one shade away from black. Remove from oven and cool, resting for at least 12 hours before cutting.