3.24.2010

Sourdough Bread & Starter

Sourdough Bread

Finally, I've done it. I made a sourdough starter using just flour and water and five days time. With hindsight, I'd say it's fun, it's very easy to do and at the end of it you might wonder wtf took you so long to try it. I chose one of the simplest approaches to making a starter I could find from The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard, leaving out the yoghurt and the raisins from the recipe to make it even simpler. The main point here seems to be using a mix of rye and wheat flour, which gets the starter going more easily. The rest is all in the wrist ( ;) ) as you just need to spoon flour into a jar, mix it in (I used a disposable wooden skewer) and spoon out some of the excess mixture.

As the inaugural bread for using my starter I chose a rustic, sponge-based recipe, which had a nice sour taste, even though it was a tad under-baked. It would probably have tasted even better if I hadn't forgotten to add the salt to the final d'oh dough. But the smell of the freshly sliced bread alone is worth making your own sourdough. Seriously.

I guess making sourdough bread from scratch qualifies for the High Five award from Cookie baker lynn.

I'm sending this to Susan's YeastSpotting.


Sourdough Bread

Source: Bread by Daniel Stevens
(it seems like there will be a new edition of this book, coming out in June)

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

500 g strong wholemeal wheat flour
600 ml warm water
a ladleful of very active sourdough starter

For the dough:

all of the sponge
600 g strong wholemeal wheat flour, plus extra for dusting
25 g salt

Method:

Before you go to bed, make the sponge: mix all the ingredients together by hand in a large bowl. Beat for a while, squeezing the lumps of flour out as you come across them. Put the container in a plastic bag and leave it somewhere fairly warm until the next morning.

The next day, mix in the flour and salt, and squash it all together, adding more flour or water as necessary, to make a soft, easily kneadable, sticky dough. Turn it out on to a clean work surface and knead it for about 10 minutes, until smooth and springy.

Form the dough into a tight round, flour it all over and place in a clean bowl. Cover with a plastic bag and leave to rise. After an hour, tip it out on your work surface (it may not have risen much at this point). Form it into a tight round again, return to the bowl, cover and leave to rise for another hour. Repeat this process once, or even twice more - you will notice the dough becoming increasingly airy.

After the final rising period, tip the dough out on to the work surface and deflate it by pressing all over with your hands. Divide into two or three, and shape into loaves. Coat with flour, then transfer the loaves to well-floured wooden boards, linen cloths, tea towels or proving baskets. Lay a plastic bag over the whole batch, to stop it drying out, and leave to prove until almost doubled in size; this could be anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the temperature of the dough and the vigour of your sourdough starter.

When the loaves are almost ready, switch the oven to 250°C/Gas Mark 10 or its highest setting, put a baking stone or a heavy baking tray inside, and place a roasting tin on the bottom shelf. Put the kettle on.

When the loaves are ready, either transfer them to the hot tray (removed from the oven), or one at a time to a peel. Slash the tops with a serrated knife and spread the bread all over with water. Put the tray into the oven,or slide each loaf on to the baking stone, pour some boiling water into the roasting tin and close the door as quickly as possible.

Turn the heat down after about 10 minutes to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 if the bread is still very pale; 180°C/Gas Mark 4 if the crust is noticeably browning; or 170°C/Gas Mark 3 if the crust seems to be browning quickly. Bake until the loaves are well browned and crusty, and feel hollow when you tap them: in total allow 30 to 40 minutes for small loaves; 40 to 50 minutes for large loaves.
If in doubt, bake for a few minutes longer. Leave to cool on a wire rack.


Sourdough Starter (Leaven)

Source: The Handmade Loaf by Dan Lepard
slightly abbreviated

Day 1

50 g water at 20°C
2 rounded tsp rye flour
2 rounded tsp strong white flour
2 rounded tsp currants or raisins *
2 rounded tsp live low-fat yoghurt *

Mix all the ingredients in a 500 ml Kilner** jar.
Cover and leave at room temperature (approx. 20°C) for 24 hours.

* Omitted.
** Mason and Weck jars should work, too. :)

Day 2

50 g water at 20°C
2 rounded tsp rye flour
2 rounded tsp strong white flour

Stir in the ingredients, beginning with the water.
Cover and leave at room temperature (approx. 20°C) for 24 hours.

Day 3

100 g water at 20°C
4 rounded tsp rye flour
4 rounded tsp strong white flour

Stir in the ingredients, beginning with the water.
Cover and leave at room temperature (approx. 20°C) for 24 hours.

Day 4

100 g water at 20°C
125 g strong white flour

Remove and discard three quarters of the mixture.
Stir in the water. Pour through a strainer to remove the raisins, then pour back into the jar. Add the flour and stir well. Cover and leave at room temperature (approx. 20°C) for 24 hours.

Day 5

100 g water at 20°C
125 g strong white flour

Remove and discard three quarters of the mixture.
Stir in the ingredients, beginning with the water.
Cover and leave at room temperature (approx. 20°C) for 24 hours.

Day 6 onwards

Replace each volume of leaven, which you remove for baking, with an equal amount of water and flour.

4 comments:

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Fun yes I'm with you ... to the point that when my started bloomed mold two weeks ago I went back to the Handmade Loaf and redid just that one ... cept I used the yoghurt & raisins. Very good.

Joanne said...

That crumb and crust looks so awesome! Alright. I need to get on this sourdough train. Pronto.

mimicooks said...

OMG!! You must have some mighty yeast floating around in your kitchen already because that is one gorgeous loaf from a new starter and no added yeast and it was sour already! Good job!

I am so happy. Another sourdough baking friend!

Always take the salt shaker out and set it by your bread ingredients. I can't tell you how many times I've made that exact mistake. I always get the salt out first. Actually, now that I think about it, you may have gotten that fantastic rise from the lack of salt. Salt keeps the yeast from going nutso to quickly. It retards the progress of the yeast but also gives you flavor.

Congratulations! That's a gorgeous first loaf. Now you need to make cheese bread, lol!

Jeanne said...

Congratulations on your first sourdough loaf! Isn't it fun? Definitely a high-five-worthy challenge, and I hope to see more sourdough goodies from your kitchen in the future!