Of course, he could have sent me an email with a quick bullet-pointed method. Instead, what I got was a beautiful photographic explanation, proving once again that our Guru is all about style and grace.
(And the answer is yes, yes I do have a bat phone to call him when my dough is in danger).
Have a look.
Salt and levain at the ready.
Speaking of hydration. Start with a modest amount of water in your dough, right, because you can't take it out, but you can always add more water at the start of dough if you need it, or even at the salt stage. Chad hydrates at 80% - 85% at dough time then based on how the dough feels -- and many variables will determine this: ambient temp, type of flour, strength of starter -- he will add more in increments. He pushes hydration to its limits, yeah, but it's always determined by the needs of the dough in a given bread. So, learn to read your dough and use any bread book or formula as a guideline rather than a bible. Your environment is much different than mine or his, so you have to make adjustments to accommodate it. You can make a Tartine Country loaf at 80% one week, then 88% the next. Listen to your dough, be flexible, and with this skill, you will truly learn bread.
Seam side up, into the banneton for final fermentation. After 4-hour refrigerated final fermentation.
Have a look at Chad's 'slashes'. Here, rather than actually slashing with a razor, he snips the dough using a scissors, sort of in the manner of snipping an epi, and makes what I call his 'Stegosaurus' pattern (and yeah, he does this pattern in the bakery).
I always bake right from cold, as does Chad. He clarifies: baking from cold helps keep the loaf from burning since they always bake from so hot from the start. This ensures that they get enough oven spring from their super hydrated doughs.
I will be back next week with some information about grain companies. I promise!
To the staff of life!
(All photos in this post ©Chad Robertson)