Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Update on My Sourdough Accident - Making Sourdough Starter and Sourdough Bread and Updated and Easier Version!

I haven't bought a loaf of bread in years. For some years now I've had a sourdough starter that I kept refreshed. What that means is you take out the little glass jar that holds your starter from the refrigerator. You use some of it to make bread and you feed the original starter with  flour and a little bit of water and return it to the refrigerator and keep it there until the next time you make bread. The starter can be kept for years.
I have quite the collection of glass storage jars. I keep my starter in a glass storage jar. And sometimes when I have a bit of leftover fruit smoothie I also put it in a glass jar. A few weeks back I just wasn't thinking I grabbed what I thought was leftover fruit smoothie, took a taste. It was so bitter and awful that I immediately spit it back into the jar.  Seconds later I realized that I had just spit into my sourdough starter. I sadly had to dump it out. I admit that for a few seconds or maybe minutes, I considered keeping it. Gross right. But  there are places in the world where they make a fermented drink by chewing and spitting.   And then there's the thing about making wine with your bare feet . But nevertheless, rest assured I tossed it out.


People have been making sourdough bread since Egyptian times. How hard can it be?. Not hard, it's a really simple and natural process.  It amounts to mixing a tiny bit of whole wheat flour, I use organic whole-wheat, and a little bit of water. You keep it covered and stir it a couple times a day you. You add a little bit more water and a little bit more flour everyday. My starter took 10 days until it looked bubbly and I probably had about 2 cups worth of starter made up. I took a half a cup of it and put it in the refrigerator and the rest I used it for a sourdough bread.


Again, this process is not hard.  But I admit when I first started making bread it seemed hard and complicated.  It is not.  I am sure there are different methods to make a loaf of sourdough bread using just starter with no added extra yeast, but this is what I do:  

The day before I want to make bread  I feed the starter (add whole wheat flour and water, keeping it the consistency of pancake batter).  I take about 1/2 cup starter and place in a medium size bowl  and return the starter you want to save to the refrigerator.bowl. 

To the medium bowl with starter I add about a cup of water and enough whole wheat flour to make a pancake-like batter.  Cover this and leave on the counter. Later in the day add more flour and water. I'm wanting about 2 cups of batter.  Cover and leave overnight. 

The next morning or early afternoon I  pour the batter into the bowl of my electric mixer.  In a separate small bowl add 1 cup warm water and about 1 teaspoon salt and maybe 2 teaspoons of sugar if you want.  You can leave the sugar out.  Stir well to dissolve the salt and sugar if you are using sugar.  Add to batter...You can use more salt, but I watch my salt content.

At this point I have been only using whole wheat flour.  Now you will add more flours.  I might add a cup of rye flour or some white or golden whole wheat flour.  Mix with dough hook.  At the end of the mixing I'll add some organic white unbleached flour.   You can experiment with the flours.  Just make sure they are from the wheat family.

The idea is to add flour until a very non-sticky, stretchy dough is produced.  But you don't need to or want to mix it all at once.  Allow rest times in between mixing the dough and the bread will develop a better flavor and texture.    Cover the mixer bowl  with a clean dish towel.  I use a large dish towel over the whole mixer and bowl.  Let the dough rest maybe 30 minutes.  Mix it more adding more flour if necessary.  Again repeat the rest and mix maybe 2 or 3  more times.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and by hand fold over the dough.  Cover again.  You are striving for a very, very stretchy, soft dough.  Don't go  the next step until your dough is very stretchy and you can easily fold it over into itself into a ball.  Unlike package yeast breads which can easily become over-proofed and fall, sourdough keeps slowly growing as it feeds on flour.  I have over-proofed sourdough bread  when I have experimented and let it rise overnight, say 10 hours on the kitchen counter.  Some people slow down the rise by letting the bread proof or rise in the refrigerator. 

I used to let the dough rise in a greased bowl and bake it in a cast iron dutch oven.  But no more...I found a much easier way to make bread.  I bake it in 2 parchment lined bread pans.  So easy and so sourdough delicious!  This method produces a softer bread with still a chewy crust. 

Take 2 pieces of parchment paper.  Big enough to leave about 2" above the sides of the pans.  The side pieces will act as support for the dishcloth-cover as the bread rises.  Working on one sheet of parchment, divide the dough into 2 pieces.  Add extra flour as needed to make 2 rectangle non-sticky pieces.
Place each piece into parchment lined pans.


Cover pans with clean dishcloth and let bread rise for 4 hours.  They will almost double in size. 

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Score bread, and cut off extra sides of parchment paper

At 500 degrees bake for 12 minutes...Lower temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 12 minutes.

 Using an instant read probe thermometer I make sure the bread's internal temperature is about 195 degrees.  
Remove bread from oven and immediately remove from pans and slide off of parchment paper onto cooling racks. 

.This bread is delicious!  
Conclusion:  This new starter is much more active than the now deceased and non-existent starter. 

1 comment:

  1. It looks so good!! I am going to try this even though there are quite a few more steps than the one I make... Yours looks delicious 😋