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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sourdough Obsession

I must admit that I am infatuated with sourdough and everything that has to do with it at the moment- from the simple biga so revered by the Italians to the French sourdough with all its simple glory. The biga as delightful and fun as it is to say, is not what I want to revel in during this aside. I have yet to delve into the realm known as German rye bread and there are a multitude of options when it comes to the formulas of white flour to rye, wheat flour to rye,  and even a combination of the three. I am still utilizing a grape sourdough starter from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen that has been working splendidly, but there are apple sourdoughs, strictly bread and water sourdoughs, and those unknown to me yet that may be experimented with down the road.

The first sourdough I tried with my starter is very similar to the recipe in Modern Vegetarian Kitchen which produced two marvelous baguettes with astounding hole patterns. Rather time consuming, but who would not rather be tinkering in the kitchen than thinking about work, bills, etc. The recipe produced an amazing baguette, fitting of Parisian riverside picnics.

French Country Sourdough

1 1/2 C white sourdough starter
3 C lukewarm nochlorinated water
2 T amber honey
6 C unbleached white bread flour
1 C whole wheat bread flour
3 tsp fine salt
cornmeal for mealing baking stone

Combine water, starter, and honey and stir until starter is dissolved. Add the flours and mix until roughly incorporated and let stand 5 minutes.

Scoop sough onto clean floured work surface and knead for at least 10 minutes then let rest for 15 minutes.

Uncover ball and sprinkle salt onto work surface kneading into the ball for at least 5 minutes. Avoid using excess flour, instead flouring hands to prevent ball absorbing too much flour.
Place into an oiled bowl and coat ball with oil covering to let rise 4-6 hours until tripled in volume.

Punch down and cover ball in bowl for 8-12 hours in refrigerator.

Remove from fridge and let dough come to room temperature for 2-3 hours. Divide into two balls and roll balls into torpedo shapes with seam on bottom. Set torpedoes on floured surface sifting a thin sprinkle of flour on top and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour. Meanwhile preheat baking stone in oven to 500 degrees.

Score loaves lengthwise, place an ovenproof bowl of cold water in oven to increase initial spring, meal baking stone, and place torpedoes on mealed area. Turn oven to 450 degrees and bake approximately 25 minutes or until loaves have a hollow sound like a drum on the bottoms. Let rest 10 minutes and enjoy with myriads of options.

The rye bread was an adventure that I seem to frequent, known as the learn as you go method. I can rarely follow recipes, which is why Dawn oftentimes gives me strange looks with my flavor combinations. A few days ago she gave me the look when she smelled cardamom on the cauliflower, but you just never know. In my book there are few ways to learn much better than experience, and this rye bread turned out to be such an experience. The rye bread I made proved to be complex and hearty with an added mellowness combined with a rich molasses finish. And I must add, if you have yet to add rye bread to your baking scheme, it is worth the time and effort especially with rich meats and robust veggies.

German Sourdough Rye

1 2/3 C whole rye flour (preferably Hodgson Mill or other high quality brand)
1 C unbleached white bread flour
1/3 C course ground spelt
1-1 1/4 C white sourdough starter
1 C unchlorinated water
2 T salt
4 T unsulphered blackstrap molasses
corn meal for baking stone

Stir together wet ingredients in a bowl until sourdough is thoroughly incorporated and let sit 5 minutes. Add flours and stir until it forms a ragged ball. Let sit for 15 minutes.

Turn ball onto clean floured surface and knead for between 10 and 15 minutes. Cover the dough ball with the bowl and let rest 20 minutes.

Spread salt onto work surface and knead salt into the dough ball for approximately 5 minutes. Place ball into floured bowl and cover allowing to rise at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in volume.
Punch down and sift a blanket of flour on top and let rise at room temperature for 7 hours or until tripled in volume. Have baking stone preheated in 450 degree oven for one hour.

Carefully score boule in criss-cross or whatever pattern you fancy. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour depending on weather and oven on mealed baking stone. Boule should sound hollow as a drum beat on bottom. 


Anonymous said...

I love sourdough - two awesome recipes, both gorgeous loaves!

Rambling Tart said...

Absolutely GORGEOUS breads!!! Well done! :-)

Cooking Rookie said...

Great bread!

denise @ quickies on the dinner table said...

I think you need to open a bakery near were I live, VERY near where I live! :D

Reeni said...

Your breads are amazing! You are very talented at bread baking! I'm very impressed. I bet their positively delicious!

Linn @ Swedish Home Cooking said...

I love sourdough bread, right now I live in France and they are spoiling me with good breads. A piece of good bread..and some butter... Mm.

Mardi Michels said...

Congrats on Top 9 today - a very deserving post. I had a few awful mishaps with sourdough last year and am too scared to tackle it again!!

Girl Foodie said...

I just posted yesterday on my own blog about my struggles with bread in general and sourdough in particular.
Your post is beautiful and incredibly informative, Thank you!

♥peachkins♥ said...

That is a great looking bread!

L said...

The bread looks amazing! I know Cooks Illustrated has some bread recipes that I've tried for other ideas, if you need Vegan though I'm not sure how well that works.

Cocina Savant said...

I was spurred to try a sourdough starter by Peter Berley's "The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen" which has some great insights on bread as well as many other cool ideas from a non-vegetarian chef. Also, after spending the weekend reading while I traveled to Pennsylvania, Daniel Leader is truly an authority and spectacular spokesperson for artisan breads. His "Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole Grain Recipes from Europe's Best Artisan Bakers" is a thoroughly enjoyable must read for any beginning or novice bread baker. Thank you all so much for the support, and I hope everyone tries to make a sourdough starter, as it is one of the most rewarding cooking adventures I have undertaken lately. It is not as intimidating as it seems, and oh so rewarding.

Chef Aimee said...

Ha, I was almost dragged onto the plane going home from vacation in San Fran since I didnt want to leave the sourdough bread! :) These are amazing breads you baked...

thecoffeebreak said...

Wow this bread look delicious! =)

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