Posts Tagged 'sourdough'

sourdough

it worked. and it was earth shattering. i wont introduct for very long because the picture speaks for itself. and it worked so nicely im still in stunned silent awe. i will say the following.

1. i love my starter and im sorry that i ever doubted it

2. its like i always say, patience is a virtue

3. bread is good and sourdough is better

4. a kitchen aid is not necessary but useful

5. dont cut into bread before it cools (see point 2)

6. working with wild yeast does not mean you will contract a yeast infection

7. use real butter

8. see number 2 (you didnt think there was more to it than that did you?)

ingredients

100g starter..this is what it looks like presently and what a well-fed starter should look like on baking day

200g water

300g flour (strong white bread flour)

7g salt

put all the ingredients, EXCEPT THE SALT, into a bowl and mix together with a kitchen aid until just combined.

then let it rest for 30 minutes. this is a process called autolysis. (i dont know why exactly, something to do with the flour absorbing more water and the shortening of gluten strands so its easier to handle…seems like just another ‘resting’ step in a relentless procession of ‘resting’ steps. but then im impatient so dont listen to me…the recipe knows more). then, put the salt in. if you are using a kitchen aid fit it with a dough hook and knead (on speed 1 or 2) for seven minutes. if not, use your muscles. it will be very sticky but thats just how it goes. let it rest for an hour, covered in a relatively warm place.

when it has started to rise a bit, get a spatula or a flexible scraper, like what they use for paint and turn it over itself. i found this video which was highly instructional so have a look. this gives the bread its structure. cover it again and let it rest for another hour.

after an hour fold it again, a la the video and then cover again. now the bread needs to rest for a long time. i left it for somewhere between 8-12 hours. after this it is ready for baking. finally and thank goodness. the exact time is tricky – i have read that its ready after 6 hours but i think it largely depends on the quality of your starter, and what kind of flour you are using. i only used white flour so i let it rest for closer to 10 hours. the dough should have doubled in volume.

i first used a pizza stone to bake this but it didnt really work. so i got a cast iron pot, which i rubbed with some olive oil. the pot should be about 3l – any bigger and the dough will spread rather than rise.

turn the dough out onto a well floured bench and with floury hands and a floury heart, shape it into a rectangle. get the edge furthest from you and fold it toward the centre. do the same with the other half…so its folded like a letter. turn the dough 90degrees and fold it the same way. lift the dough and lower it into the oiled pot, seam side down. you can, at this point use a knife to score it, forming a cross on the top – but im led to believe that this is not necessary, nor desirable when making a white sourdough, ie. using only white flour.

put a lid on the pot and put it into a non-preheated oven (cold oven) and turn the temperature up as high as it will go – i can get a mere 220 degrees but the hotter the better. leave the bread in there for an hour – starting from when you first put the pot in. this is part of the proving process because it proves while the oven is heating up, which is usually about 15-20 minutes.

remove the pot after an hour and put the bread on a wire rack to cool. it should be golden brown and spectacular looking. when you tap the base, it should be hollow.

do not cut into it until it is completely cool. i learnt this through bitter bitter experience and much to my chagrin, it will not be any good at all unless it has cooled. when you do cut into it, there should be holes – indicating something about your starter and mainly your success. if you are feeling cold, miserable or sickly eat this with some soup (its up to you which soup you choose – its not something im prepared to discuss here) and the crusty yet soft warm bread should, in the words of tim freedman, make the world safe for you. or if nothing else, temporarily numb the pain.

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saddest sourdough in the world

Here is the bread that wouldn’t. to be honest, its not the breads fault. Its not even the starters fault. I am wholly to blame – me and my impatience. As well as my climate. Try though I did, tempratures, science, and time were not on my side. Fortunately this was not the real thing. It was a prototype, made from some discarded starter. Having read what to do with left over starter I thought id try my hand at a loaf, and with little to no expectations, the inevitable failure didn’t break me. It just made me a little bit sad. I will not post a recipe as yet. Partly because it didn’t work – and I don’t wish that upon any of you. Partly because I believe that the recipe I used, was deeply flawed. In fact the entire baking book, from whence this starter started, I believe to be not quite right. All too often I will follow one of its instructions and then when I go back to check, that instruction is gone and replaced by one which is entirely contradictory. I have my own suspicions about this (perception filter)…but in any case, I intend on going elsewhere for my bread-making guide-lines. Its not over yet so do please stay with me. to horrifyingly misappropriate the words of a great man “ever onwards to victory”.

the disappointment was palpable. but its all part of a very steep learning curve. apparently it was in the final 4 hour retarding process that i fell down. retarding indeed. so am now currently in the process of building my loaf an enclosure in which it can bask in the warmth of a man-made ecosystem. 80% humidity, 26 degrees, and far too much attention for a loaf of bread.

french toast

its not because anyone needs to learn how to put a piece of bread in some eggs and milk and fry until golden that i post this. its because this is a different french toast – taken to a whole new level on account of an excess of a lemon infused custard that was taking up valuable fridge space. how could it go wrong? well, ill tell you. if you are so far gone as to coat your bread in custard be aware that it is very rich and something about its properties made the toast very claggy. not what we want. so i just cracked an egg and poured a drop of milk into the lemony custard for round two and it worked perfectly. it had quite a sharp lemon taste but was still wholly recognisable to the palate as french toast – only a french toast elevated to new lemony-vanilla-y heights.

this was attempt one – bread into custard. at this stage the looming claginess was not yet apparent and so we continued merrily on our way, unawares of the mistakes we were making, mistakes only knowable retrospectively with the benefits of hindsight.

faces were made. the words “claggy”, “cloying”, and “strange” were liberally peppered in attempts at describing the experience. so amendments were made. a moment of reflection, one egg and a dash of milk were added.

and it wasnt just better than attempt number one. it was really very very good. it didnt need a squeeze of lemon. it didnt need the mound of sugar which is usually piled on french toast (though it got it, because it cant hurt). it could have done with some poached fruit on the side but that suggestion was laughed at and the only fruit on hand was a banana and the object here was to avoid clag, not increase it. so the next time you have a lemon custard glut (a position we all find ourselves in from time to time), try it. its lovely.