Friday, January 28, 2011

Sourdough Bread Success!

Sourdough Bread #1

A few weeks ago, I posted about buying a novel at Barnes and Nobel. The book included some recipes, including one for Sourdough Starter. Being the frequent baker that I am, it just so happened I had all the ingredients on hand and I made the Sourdough Starter the night I brought the book home. I've been nursing the starter ever since... feeding it, stirring it, dividing it in half, changing containers, stirring it, feeding it... you get the idea. It's like I have a newborn at home.  Well, of course I am exaggerating, but you get the idea... it's a chore.

Last week I was growing alarmed by a liquid layer developing on top of the starter; it would be there each night when I'd get home from work.  I had to "Google" the matter and guess what... my starter is a teenager.  Yep, making "hooch" at home when I wasn't looking. The layer of liquid on top apparently is 12 to 14 percent alcohol.  I did not expect that!   I just keep stirring it back in each day.

Last weekend I attempted to make sourdough baguettes. I have a special pan just for baking baguettes with two parallel channels;  if you look at the pan from the side, it looks kind of like a "w" but rounded at the bottom.  The pan has holes in the bottom which gives the bread a real authentic look and allows the bread crust to cook nicely. The dough I made was way too wet when it came out of my bread machine (using the dough setting). I tried to work in more flour while working the dough on the counter top; it was a sticky mess. I had the oven too hot when I put the loaves into rise.  The loaves were hideously misshapen and ugly after I finally baked them on a baking sheet and not in my special pan. Needless to say, they were not photo-worthy loaves of bread but we ate them anyway.  Turns out... they were pretty darn tasty.  Nice crust on the outside and, on the inside, great texture with holes like you'd expect when you cut into the loaf.  Made some good toast with jam (homemade rhubarb raspberry jam which I found when I cleaned out the old freezer).  I snapped the photo above at 5:00 am.... breakfast before work... so it's not a great photo.
Sourdough Bread #2

Success!  Pretty... and it tastes good too!

Since I had pretty good results last week, despite a few flubs a long the way, I set out this weekend to make some more attractive sourdough baguettes this time around. I was almost out of all purpose (white) flour, so I decided to use only whole wheat flour this time around.  I thought it might make the dough less sticky since whole wheat flour tends to act like a sponge compared to all purpose flour. 

On the underside of this baguette, you can see the texture the baguette pan's holes make on the bottom of the loaf. 
 I am pretty excited by how well this turned out. I've been making bread at home for years, and the texture of these baguettes is the best ever. To me, it tastes as if there is yogurt or buttermilk in the bread. Of course, the whole wheat flour lends the bread it's own flavor as well.

I feel as if this is still a work in progress for me, but here's what I did this time around:

Whole Wheat Sourdough Baguettes

Put the following ingredients in a bread machine pan:

5/8 cup warm water
1 cup sourdough starter
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Let these ingredients sit in the pan for a about 10 minutes.

Then add in 3 cups whole wheat flour and 1 teaspoon salt.

Place pan in bread machine and set on "dough" setting.  As I watched my dough at the beginning of the stirring process, I was worried it was too dry. I added in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil as the dough stirred.

When the dough is done, turn the dough out onto a floured work surface or cutting board.  I cut the dough in half to make two baguettes.  To shape the first loaf, I rolled the dough with a rolling pin, into a long oval shape. I rolled the oval up, starting with a long side, and placed it seam side down in my pan.  I prepared my pan by spraying it with some non-stick cooking spray and sprinkled in some cornmeal. You could also use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I completed the same process for the second loaf.  To make the sesame seeds stick on top, I brushed the loaves with some water and then sprinkled on the sesame seeds.  Then, I covered the loaves with a tea towel and put them a slightly warm oven to rise for about 30 minutes.  I removed them from the oven, preheated the oven to 400 degrees, and then baked the loaves for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Up next... what to do with lemons shipped Priority U.S. Mail from the in-laws in Tucson, Arizona!

1 comment:

affectioknit said...

That looks so good...send me the recipe! I can't wait to see what you do with the lemons!