Unlike a lot of other bloggers, I do not fear a wet dough. I aim for one. One of the first things that I discovered was the wetter the dough the better the crumb consistency- at least in my opinion. I was experimenting in my kitchen the other day, hoping to maximize hydration in the dough while still producing a loaf that can maintain its shape. This dough took a long time to double in bulk during the first rise, even in a warm room (about 4 hours). My sourdough starter has been temperamental lately and I decided to give my recipe a boost with a scant 1/2 tsp yeast. Overall it produced a beautiful loaf, with a super soft slightly chewy crumb. The brown sugar really enhanced the flavor and helped produce a lovely caramelized crust. I baked it in my ceramic “dutch oven” to help with its structure and crumb, but I accidentally used too much dough, and I don’t think it had enough room to properly rise. I think it had potential to be even “hole-ier”. I say this because I also made a few rolls on a baking sheet that had a very open crumb and also held their shape. Unfortunately they were eaten before I had a chance to get any photos!
In a large mixing bowl combine starter, flour, 300 g water, yeast, salt and sugar. Start kneading with a dough hook. Once the dough has formed a rough ball, slowly start to add the remaining water, the dough may seem like it wont incorporate all of the water, but give it time- it will. Keep kneading until the dough has cleaned the edges of the bowl and the gluten strands have formed (the dough is very elastic) About 10 minutes. Prepare a bowl by spraying it with oil. Wet your hands before dealing with the dough, and transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover and let rise until it has doubled in bulk. It took 4 hours for me. Once it has doubled, flour a counter top, and dump contents out. Fold onto itself 3-4 times. If you plan on baking your dough free form, cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and shape dough. If you want to use a “dutch oven” or any ceramic/glass or cast iron pot with a lid, fold dough onto itself 3-4 times, divide in 2 and return to two very oiled or floured bowls. Let rise for 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 450F. If using a “dutch oven” place it in the oven while it heats. Once heated bake with lid for 10 minutes, and 5-8 minutes without until crust is crackly and golden brown. Otherwise place a heat proof dish with a cup of ice water on the bottom of your oven while you bake your bread on a cookie sheet for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes remove your dish, rotate your sheet and continue baking for another 6-8 minutes.