… Just in time for The Strong and Noble, Wonderfully Handsome Mister to have taken my camera with him on a short exercise. A friend is going to be around tomorrow, and has promised to lend me the use of his camera, so I’ll be adding in a picture or two of the lovely loaf I baked today.

Baking sourdough bread is much like baking any other kind of bread, the same kneading, proofing, punching down, reproofing process is used, but the proofing process just takes longer.

A trick or two that I use: whether you’re using milk or water (I prefer the milk) warm it up as it will help to speed the proofing process, same for the starter you’ll be using but be very careful not to over heat it. When you place your loaves in the oven, have a pan with some hot water in it on the lower rack, the steam it will release will help your bread to have a better crust.

If your bread comes out crustier than you’d like it to, leave it alone and try it out again the next day. It does soften considerably. There is nothing like bread fresh out of the oven, but if the crust comes out too hard, one day out of the oven can’t hurt.

Sourdough Bread

2 ½ C sourdough starter
1 ½ C milk or water
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp salt
3-4 C flour (I used one cup whole wheat flour to replace one cup that would otherwise have been all purpose.)

In a bowl, mix your starter with your milk/water, the sugar butter and salt. Mix in flour slowly until a sticky dough forms. I did it by hand, but I’m sure a mixer with a dough hook wouldn’t hurt.

Turn the dough out onto the counter or a cutting board and knead in the flour until no more will go into it. It really depends on the humidity how much flour the dough will take, but when you hit that point where the dough doesn’t seem to be taking it up any more, stop! Clear away the remaining flour and knead a little more, you need the gluten to develop.

Put your ball of dough in a bowl with a little oil so that it doesn’t stick. Cover with a cloth and let it proof until the bulk is doubled. This can be a long process, especially if your water/milk was cold. Expect it to take a couple of hours. Don’t be impatient, a watched sourdough will seem to take longer to proof.

Punch down your proofed dough ball and let it rise again. The second proofing shouldn’t take as long as the first proofing. Punch down for the last time, and shape into two smallish loaves or one large one. If you go for the large one, make it skinnier than you think it should be, or else when you cut it the slices of bread will be humongous (but maybe you like your bread that way).

Let your loaves rise about half way, about 30-45 minutes, and then put it in a 375 degree oven to bake. You know it’s done when you give it a knock and it sounds hollow, it should take a ballpark of 45 minutes though.

img_01831

Some fun ideas: finely dice an onion and mix it in with your batter, or maybe a cup or so of grated sharp cheddar or another favorite cheese. You can art up your bread however you want, but both of the aforementioned are tested tasty additions.

Advertisements