Sourdough baking is only hard if you want it to be. I took my starter on the road and made a lovely loaf of rye bread with my first try.
I am heading out on an early summer of adventure with the dogs, in our VW Westy. As we were leaving the house, I grabbed the sourdough starter and put it in the bus' fridge. We're stopping at my brother's for a bit and I decided to bake some bread.
A small container formerly used to house take-out Chinese or Indian serves as the perfect size for my counter-top starter.
I started with 1 cup of h20, 1 cup of bread flour and 1 heaping tablespoon of starter. I add 1/2 cup of each four hours later and then feed as I deem necessary. Usually once a day, discarding 1/2 cup and adding 1/4 cup h2o and the same of flour.
Bob's Redmill Dark Rye was on sale. I combined 2 1/2 cups of bread flour with 1 cup of Rye and a heaping tsp of salt. In a measuring cup I combined 1/4 cup of the starter with 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Then I mixed them together to make this sticky doughball.
I gave the dough about 18 hours in its first rise. It more than doubled and was super sticky. That is a wonderful sign!
I then spread out the dough and folded it into a loaf. I let that loaf rest for 10-15 minutes while I improvised a banneton. Read the rest
Sourdough pizza crust is as stress-free as it is delicious.
If my sourdough starter is on the counter when I want pizza, I will make sourdough pizza dough. I simply take my regular Neapolitan crust recipe and substitute 1/4 cup of starter for the 2 tsp of active dry yeast. I will reduce the amount of water I mix the starter into by 2-3 Tbs and add it back as I work the dough if needed. Generally, I do not need to add much back.
I let the dough rise and work it exactly like any other pizza.
Pineapple and pepperoni is my daughter's go-to pizza. I like chevre and prosciutto, but I am happy to help her finish the pineapple and pepp. Read the rest
Baking great tasting, and looking sourdough bread with freshly milled wheat is only complicated if you are used to market-bought wheat. Like we all are.
These two loaves are pretty identical, the only difference in their composition was perhaps 1 tablespoon of extra water in the loaf that got the dusted linen crust. I eyeball water in the measuring cups and do not weigh anything.
I used 2 cups of King Arthur bread flour and 1 1/2 cups of the Hard Red Winter Wheat supplied by Grist and Toll for each loaf, as well as 1 1/2 cups of water, 1/3 cup of well-fed starter and 1 1/2 tsp of Trader Joe's fine sea salt.
I find the Grist and Toll wheat slows fermentation down. Everything I read suggested fresh wheat would speed things up, by my experience showed that more patience and more time are needed. In addition to giving the first ferment more time, close to 18 hours rather than a normal 12-14, I also engaged the use of my Rancilio Ms Silvia espresso machine. I put the fermenting glass bowls of dough on top of Silvia, and her warming tray helps kick the yeast into high gear.
Fresh whole wheat absorbs water differently than market-sourced wheat. 'Hydration' or ratio of flour to water in the dough is something a baker can pay a lot of attention to if said baker wants. I don't bother, but you do need enough water in the dough to get everything to stick together. Read the rest
I was sent some small-batch, whole grain, locally sourced flour. I baked some bread.
One of my oldest friends recently went BreadCore on me. He is baking beautiful loaves, paying attention to hydration and scoring some cool designs with a fancy schmancy lame. To thank me for being his on-call baking consultant, he sent me 7.5 lbs of two different small-batch flours that he loves.
I am a no-stress it'll all work out in the bake, baker. I am over a decade into delicious bread, pizza, pretzels, waffles, and bagels and I don't like to stress over baking. Baking is a relaxing and fun food preparation method. I guess this is the opposite of everything a highly technical Breadcore baker wants to hear. I do not weigh my ingredients. So, my first thought about specialty flour was "Fuck, this'll complicate things!"
I was wrong.
I opened the bag of Hard Red Spring Wheat. I baked my first loaf at 70% Trader Joes AP flour and 30% HRS. I did reserve some flour from the initial mix, as I was afraid the HRS would drink more water than market flour. I ended up adding it all in and developed a very sticky ball of dough that rose very well. It baked up beautifully.
On this bake, I lowered my oven temperature 5 degrees. In my mind, I was holding back one Kadam for the imaginary Hebrew god to whom my parents dedicated the 12th year of my life. In reality, I'd noticed that my friend who baked at the same temps I did got a much less explosively crumbastic crust on his loaves. Read the rest
I was just informed that it is National Sourdough Day, no fooling.
I baked more sourdough this weekend. I wanted to see if my starter would come back to the reliable cycle I am used to if I treated it nice for a few days. This no-knead loaf rose very nicely for about 20 hrs.
I folded the dough and put it into a linen lined banneton. I wanted to see if this would make my bread any different. For years I have been using floured banneton and getting really rustic, crusty, artisnal looking loaves. Cutting into one sends out an explosion of crumbs. I thought the linen liner might 'smooth things out.' Ha. Ha.
The linen liner would, later in the weekend, nearly prove my undoing.
I floured the linen pretty heavily and the loaf came out quite easily. As I would later deliver this bread into the eager hands of my daughter, spending the weekend at her moms house, I scored it with an "A" for Anarchy.
The exterior looks beautiful, and the crumb was perfect for the sandwiches my child ate for dinner. The linen liner works wonders to develop a thin, even crispy and wonderful crust. You can cut this bread without leaving a small avalanche of crust behind.
Later in the weekend, baking bread for a soon to arrive dinner guest I under floured the linen and had a fairly sticky loaf of bread. The loaf stuck to the liner and tore a little as I transferred from banneton to parchement paper for scoring. Read the rest
Sourdough is not the complicated, finicky bread baking technique some folks might like you to believe. Sourdough baking takes very little effort and is mostly an art of patience.
This loaf is an example of what you can achieve by barely paying attention to your starter. I left mine in the fridge for months, and then forgot it on the kitchen counter.
Here is the dough after its first rise, and before I spread it out for folding.
Here is the loaf in its proofing basket. It was VERY wet and took a lot of the flour out of the basket.
Here is the finished second loaf, baked from a starter that had been left on my kitchen counter, unfed, for over a week. Previous to ignoring the starter on my counter, I had left it in my fridge for well over 6 months.
Here are some details on preparation of a basic sourdough loaf. Read the rest
Unlike all the breadcore pals I have baking loaves with hand-ground sorghum and Bolivian yeast strains kept at 75% hydration, I left my sourdough starter on the kitchen counter for a week and didn't bother feeding it.
After another midafternoon phone call from a friend who newly discovered baking as a relaxing and delicious artform asking for recommendations on baking something crisp-but-gooey, I looked at the live starter I keep on my counter. I transplanted it from the sleeping mass of junk a week or so back, baked a few great loaves of bread, and then kinda forgot about it. I had other stuff on my mind. The phone conversation led me to desire bread.
Intending to put up a loaf later in the afternoon, I fed the room temperature but dormant starter. First, I mixed all the hooch back into the starter. I then discarded a cup of starter and added 1/2 cup each of warm water and flour. Then I stirred, covered and gave it 4 hours.
I used the starter to prepare my go-to no-knead loaf of bread, flour and whole wheat. Said dough was permit to rise overnight. Pretty much everything looked like dough normally does on a first rise. I then folded the blob! The dough was pretty wet, I left it to proof in its basket.
I had a hard time deciding when it was ready for the oven. After 90 minutes I could see some large bubbles had formed in the dough, and a poke-with-index-finger test was getting what I thought were correct springing back results, but something looked off. Read the rest
Everyone I know is on a sourdough kick. My sister was talking some stuff she learned in a class, so I took these photos to show her what "waking up the starter" means to me.
When I took my starter out of the fridge and looked in the crock I saw a deep pool of hooch. It has been since Thanksgiving that I used it, and I may have put this batch in the fridge back in June or July 2018.
I take a heaping spoonful of the starter and...
...gently mix it with 1/2 cup of warm water and 1/2 cup of flour. Then I set it aside for 4 hours.
I feed the starter every 4 hrs when I am awake, until it is awake. When I sleep the yeast can sleep. Once I have 2 cups of starter in my bowl, I discard 1/2 and add 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of flour again, maintaining the volume at around 2 cups. When the starter looks like this, it is ready to use.
I used the starter, baking a loaf of bread in my Dutch Oven.
Bread with butter, jam and cheese was yesterday's meal. Read the rest
The biggest single improvement to my sourdough baking hobby has been using a pre-heated dutch oven. Read the rest
Atlas Obscura just added an interesting new section on strange and wondrous foods, like salt-rising bread leavened with bacteria that cause gas gangene. Read the rest