Archive for February, 2008

not just a little bit

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

I’ve been so in to the baking part of this whole sourdough extravaganza, that I haven’t wanted to take time to post about it! I just pulled my 4th? 5th? batch out of the oven. Therefore it is high time I caught up here. Though I’m really supposed to be doing work-work.

The original sourdough – batch one!


Classic Sourdough Bread (from King Arthur Flour)
9 ounces “fed” sourdough starter
12 ounces lukewarm water
5 to 6 cups unbleached AP flour
1 T salt
1 T sugar
cornmeal to sprinkle on pans

Pour the starter into a large mixing bowl. Add the water and 3 cups of flour. Beat vigorously. Cover this sponge with plastic wrap and put it aside to work. The period can be very flexible, but allow at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours. A longer period at a lower temperature will result in a more sour flavor. – This is very true. Longer sitting == much better flavor, if the sour bit is really what you’re after.

"The Sponge" Batch 1 in the mixer

After the dough has bubbled and expanded, remove the plastic wrap. Blend in the salt, sugar, and remaining 2 cups of flour. Mix until the dough comes together, then knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add only enough extra flour to keep the dough from sticking. Place the dough in the bowl, cover, and let it rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.

final rise oven time!

Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into an oval loaf and place on a lightly greased, cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled. This can take up to 2 hours. Remove the cover, slash the tops, and bake in a preheated 450F oven for approx. 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Yield: 2 loaves. Note 2: this bread is tasty. It won’t last long. Try to let it cool for at least a little bit before you dig in.

After such a good experience with my “white flour” starter, I wanted to try a batch with my whole wheat flour starter. For batch 2, I tried a different recipe: Sourdough Bread with Yeast. I was so excited that I forgot to take pictures while I was making it.

Whole Wheat Sourdough

Sourdough Bread with Yeast – also from King Arthur Flour
9 ounces “fed” sourdough starter
12 ounces lukewarm water (you may need more with Whole Wheat flour)
1 T sugar
2 t instant yeast
5.5 to 6.5 cups AP flour (I used 5 cups of Whole Wheat)
1 T salt
cornmeal for sprinkling on baking pans

Combine all of the ingredients, using only 5 cups of the flour. Knead to form a smooth, soft dough, adding additional flour as needed. Place dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Divide the dough in half and shape into two oval loaves. Place on a lightly greased, cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet. Cover, and let rise for an hour, until doubled. Slash the tops and bake in a preheaded 450F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Yield: 2 loaves.

This made a tasty bread with a dense crumb and very few holes, and a very faint sourdough flavor. It’s good, but I don’t know that I would have recognized it as a sourdough bread. My educated guess is that the limited sourdough-ness of this recipe is due to the lack of the sponge phase and not because of the whole wheat flour. I need to try the first recipe with whole wheat flour to be sure.

I took some of these breads in to work so that my friends could try it and I took the rest of it to GR last weekend for the fam to enjoy.

This past Friday we had a good snowstorm, which meant a work from home day. Since I work on my laptop in the kitchen, I couldn’t resist throwing another batch of Classic Sourdough together. This time I didn’t let the sponge phase last very long, only about 3 hours, because I wanted to have the bread finished in time for dinner. The whole process took about 9 hours, from beginning the sponge to pulling it out of the oven. I also decided to make one big loaf rather than two smaller loaves. The end result was a bread with an excellent, light crumb, ample holes, and a mild sour flavor. The large size was definitely impressive looking and I would do it again, especially if we were having other people over for dinner.

Of course I forgot to take a picture.

An Era of Great Experimentation

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Guess what I did this weekend? Got my sourdough starter going. I have two containers – one fed with King Arthur organic all purpose flour and one started with KA organic ap but fed with KA organic whole wheat.

Guess what I did this morning before I left for work? Started a batch of sourdough bread. This recipe has you create a “sponge” with a cup of starter, three cups of flour and 1.5 cups of water. It calls for a 2 to 8 hour rise or fermentation, though mine will be closer to the 8-9 hr mark. When I get home I’ll add more flour, knead it, rise it for a couple more hours and then bake it. I didn’t have time to take pictures this morning but I’ll take pictures tonight and I’ll post with more details about the process. Very exciting!