Sourdough: latest experiment plus recipe

Sourdough June 5Last night I made sourdough again (yum!) after a couple of batches of plain white bread.  That bread was fantastic–when it was fresh from the oven–but by the next day it just doesn’t cut it for me.  The flavour is so . . . simple.  And a bit on the sweet side.  So back to the sourdough, which seems to get even better as the days go by.  

I kept a couple of my alterations from my last experiment: I kept the water content on the low side, and I added 1/2 oz of high gluten (80%) flour (also known as Vital Wheat Gluten).  I also baked in my small loaf pans, and discovered that I do have 2 after all–my lovely yellow pyrex loaf pan is the perfect size for these little loaves. For some reason the Baker’s Secret ones I have are just a wee bit too big.

I also made one more change in this recipe after my little white-bread holiday: I used half white all-purpose flour in place of some of the “germ added back in” flour I’ve been using.  

The result: the best bread yet!  It’s much lighter in texture, and tastes complex, moist, not-too-sour, delicious.  The littler loaf pans shaped the loaves perfectly, and I will look forward to poached eggs tomorrow after I get some organic eggs from the farmer’s market.

Next time I think I’ll follow these same alterations again.

Recipe

Here is my adaptation of the recipe I use for my “Basic Sourdough”, from Peter Reinhart‘s book “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice“.  I’m not going to write out the instructions step-by-step, but will write it assuming that you, the reader, know what to do . . .

Firm Starter

4 oz regular wet starter

4.5 oz bread flour

1 oz water

Mix this together, knead briefly, and then let it rise for 4 hours.  The recipe recommends refrigerating this overnight but I usually mix this up in the morning before I go to work, and then do the next step when I come home at lunch time.

Final Dough

10 oz white all-purpose flour

9 3/4 oz white “with germ added back in” bread flour

1/2 oz high gluten flour

1/2 oz salt

12 oz water, lukewarm

Mix the flour & salt together, then add all the firm starter, cut into chunks, and the water.  Mix with a spoon, or in a mixer until it all comes together, then knead for as long as you need, until the dough passes the “Windowpane Test“.  Form the dough into a ball and put into a lightly oiled bowl, rolling the dough ball so it is lightly coated in oil.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 3-4 hours, or until doubled in size.

Next, divide the dough into 2 and shape into loaves.  Proof (let rise again) for 2-3 hours, or until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven for quite awhile, especially if you are making free-form loaves. For these, bake at a very high temperature (450 or 500 degrees), using a baking stone and a steam pan and everything.  Bake for 10 minutes, rotate the loaves 180 degrees, then bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, making sure they 

I prefer to bake my bread in loaf pans so it makes a good shape for sandwiches and toast, and so I bake at a lower temperature for a longer time: 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn the pans and bake for another 20 minutes or so.

Good luck!  I will be writing an entry soon on raising/keeping starter, so stay tuned!

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