Sourdough Bread in Five Minutes a Day: an Experiment

I’ve been enjoying the bread recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day so much lately–it’s all we’ve been eating for the last few weeks.  I’ve been baking the full batch (two 2-pound loaves) each time and freezing one loaf, but there have been a couple of occasions when we got through both loaves in about 2 days. We eat a lot of bread!

But since this revolution (REVOLUTION, I say!) of the no-knead, high-hydration, easy-peasy bread, I have been missing two things: the first is my sourdough. While the Artisan Bread does have a complexity that quick-rise breads lack, it still isn’t quite sourdough calibre. Second is whole grains. We’ve been eating a LOT of white flour. Delicious, sure; but it’s definitely less nutrient-dense and fibre-rich than whole grains.

So, I decided to finally give my latest experiment a try: merging the Artisan-Bread-in-Five-Minutes-A-Day techniques with my sourdough knowledge, to try to come up with a slightly easier way to make sourdough. I’m also hoping for a lighter, more holey loaf.

I took a look on the interweeb, and found a lot of sourdough recipes using the no-knead techniques discussed in the Mark Bittman New York Times article that made the no-knead bread famous. I find the Artisan Bread in Five techniques even easier and lower fuss, but didn’t turn up any results on a sourdough version.

So I gave it a try.  And the results were . . . well, they were okay. Quite sour, which might be due to the long rising time, or possibly because of the state my starter is in (I keep leaving it for weeks, and then just refreshing it a few times before baking; it will probably change with more use).

It also burnt a bit at the temperature I baked it at, while the inside is a bit undercooked, so next time I’m going to try 400 for a short time–maybe 20 minutes–and then 325 for maybe 40 minutes.

Also, it is more holey than my previous sourdoughs have been, probably due to the higher hydration and longer rise, but it didn’t get much oven spring, which I attribute to the “germ-added-back-in” organic bread flour. I just don’t find it has much gluten structure, no matter what I do to it. Next time I’ll try an all-white sourdough to rule out the possibility that the structure is simply breaking down from the longer rise. After that I’ll maybe try an organic all-purpose whole wheat, just to see.

In any case, here’s my recipe, which I did by weight because that was the only way I could keep the hydration (percentage of water) consistent with the original recipe.  Basically I substituted 6 oz of my 100% hydrated starter (that means a 1:1 ratio by weight of flour to water) for 3 oz of water and 3 oz of flour in the recipe.

Sourdough Bread in Five Minutes a Day

6 oz well-fed, fresh starter, 100% hydration

13 oz water, lukewarm

29.5 oz flour (for this I used about half white all-purpose and half of my “germ-added-back-in” bread flour)

1 1/2 tbsp salt

I dissolved the starter in the water, and mixed the salt with the two flours, then stirred the dry ingredients into the wet until combined. I let this sit out overnight for about 14 hours, after which I divided it, shaped it, and put the 2 loaves into their loaf pans. After a rising time of 4 hours, I baked the loaves in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 45 minutes, after which time they were almost burnt on the outside so I took them out.

See this recipe for more detailed instructions.

And if you have any other resources that might help me with this project, please recommend!!!

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6 thoughts on “Sourdough Bread in Five Minutes a Day: an Experiment

  1. I would love to know how you perfect this, because I love bread. Making bread is on my list of things to start doing myself. I have to start with white flower, just like you suggested to make sure the recipe I use is good and then learn to adjust it to organic flours.
    Best of Luck

  2. The writers of 5 mins a day are releasing a new book soon – October I think. It covers using more grains and different additions and flours from what I understand. It might (?) help. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the reminder, Tammy! I’m going to put my name down for it with the Library (if they have it on order already). They don’t seem to focus too much on sourdough, but maybe some of the whole-grain techniques will give me some insight!

  3. Sadly I haven’t been baking bread at all lately! But I’m going to start a new starter today . . .

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