Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sourdough Bread - You're Gonna Love This!

A while back I posted about my new adventure with baking sourdough bread. You can read about it here. And tonight I'm sharing more about this experience. (If the internet had a 'scratch and sniff' test, you would take one whiff and be right over, begging for a slice topped with butter!)

Even though I've been baking bread for 25 years or more, there's a lot I don't know about making Sourdough. You can google yourself (No, I mean google 'sourdough', not 'yourself', although that might bring up some surprising results as well!) and find numerous sourdough blogs or websites. Some sourdough bakers are a mite more specific than I when measuring, kneading, baking, etc., but I'm finding that sourdough is pretty sturdy stuff and allows me to be a little more layed back than those folk. The idea is to bake a great loaf of bread, not win a prize at the State Fair, so relax a bit, okay?

Since my previous post, I've learned that you can take a dollop (a cup or so) of the sourdough starter, stir in a bit of water and a larger bit of flour to form a thick battery 'sponge'. Let this sponge sit overnight to get it a-growin'. You can see what it looks like in this photo. (Don't forget, you can click for a closer view.) I'm not guaranteeing that I used the correct proportions...but the stuff worked. That's good enough for me.

When it came time to bake bread, I added one egg, 5/8 cup milk, 1 tsp salt, 2 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons of butter, 1 teaspoon of yeast and enough regular white flour to knead up nicely in my breadmaker. (Remember from my previous post that I use the breadmaker to knead, but not to bake. Once kneaded, I let it rise once, then punch down, and place in a pan, and bake in the oven.) It's rather a hit-and-miss guess on how much flour. Somewhere between 2 and 3 cups. I just check the machine every minute or so to make sure the dough is not too dry, not too wet.

Some extra thoughts...
  1. The dough will be a bit more wet than regular bread dough. The more moisture, the larger the holes in the crumb.
  2. REAL sourdough probably doesn't use eggs. I'm not a purist about a lot of things and certainly not about bread. (I hope none of those REAL sourdough specialists read this!)
  3. Allowing the sponge to ferment about twelve hours helps the bread develop a very, very good flavor. (This is gonna be a YUM-YUM experience!)
  4. When you are ready to place the loaf in the oven, cut slashes in the top with either a sharp knife or kitchen shears. This allows the bread to rise a bit more in the oven without ripping itself apart. I could have done a better job here.
  5. A thermometer helps determine the optimum baking time. I wait until the bread has baked about 23 minutes in a 400 degree oven before putting in the thermometer and completing the baking until the interior temp is 200 degrees.
  6. I eat more bread now. That may not a good thing.
You can read here about using sourdough for sweet rolls.


cinnamongirl93 said...

Mmmmm. I can almost smell it from here. Sounds so yummy. I am intrigued by the 5/8 measure of milk. That is the first time I have seen that measurement.

Diane said...

I love bread - so I don't keep it in the house!

Is this where I read about the 18-whatever year it was sourdough starter that is still going? It sounds as if you are well on your way to perfecting an always ready to go sponge and a great recipe!

Diane said...

Well, duh - you are also part of the WWQP board! I'm listed there as Diane in WI - may I ask who you are? LOl - small world!

Kim said...

Hello! I am so happy that you came by to visit me cause now I found your wonderful post on making this bread. I have been wanting to learn how to make bread starter! Will be back to read more. Happy bread making. Kim