Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Mar 2nd - Catch Up - Oct 17th Crusty Wholewheat Sour Dough Bread

I have had a facination with breadmaking since I was a kid. Really. I used to make it by hand on the weekends. My dad bought me a breadmaker when I was a 14. I loved it. I mainly used my Kitchenaid mixer to make it now. What I found even more facinating than breadmaking was sourdough bread. The idea of how bread was made before commercialised yeast and mass production was just magic to me.

I had a starter jar in the fridge for years which my mom repeatedly threatened to throw out because it was freaking her out. When I left for University, she did, as well as filling in my backyard compost. Oh well, her house. I would just started a new one when I came home for the summers.

Still, with all that, I've never done a real real real starter. By that I mean harvesting the yeast from the air. There are a couple of ways to do that. One is to leave a red cabbage on a counter to gather that white sort of frost on the leaves. Take a leave and soak it in a slurry of flour and water for a day and then leave out to ferment. Another I found involved simply leaving a flour water slurry out covered in a breathable cloth for several weeks, stirring and watering occasionally.

I tried the latter this past summer. It did not work. We are having some construction on our house and there is no no no air flow. I imagine that was a major factor. Where is the yeast coming from? On top of that, really, I sort of grossed me out that what might be caught would be construction released mold. Blech.

I reverted to the version I used in highschool with a slight twist on the types of flour for a more tangy flavour.

Three Flour Sourdough Starter

1 clean mason jar with a tight fitting lid
1 envelope (2 1/4 t) Yeast
1 1/2 warm water
1/2 c all purpose flour, unbleached
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c rye flour

Mix in the jar, add more water if too think. It should have the consistency of cake batter.

Cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave out on your counter for 2 weeks. Stir daily and dampen the cloth regularly. It will bubble and subside repeatedly.

Store in your fridge but use and feed regularly. Bring to room temperature before use.

Feed with 1/2 c flour and 1/2 c water to replenish or grow.

Crusty Wholewheat Sourdough Loaf

This will take patience. This is what people do for real bread though. It isn't for the faint hearted.

1 c starter at room temperature (1/2-2/3 c cold)
1 t dry yeast (I was too nervous that the starter could do it on it's own for the first go)
1 c warm water
1 T honey
1/2 c rye flour
3-4 c all purpose unbleached flour
1 T salt (I used 1/2 T and it needed more)

1/2 - 1 T olive oil for bowl
2T cornmeal for baking
1 t coarse salt

In your mixer bowl, add the starter, water, 1/2 c flour. Mix with a spoon until combined. It should be soupy like pancake batter. Cover with towel or plastic wrap and keep in a warm place over night.

When the first proof is over, put the mixer bowl into the mixer stand with a dough hook. Add the honey and dry yeast and mix on low. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Add the flour 1/2 cup at a time on a low mix. When all the flour is combined, turn up to a 4-6 on Kitchen aid which is a medium. You want the dough sticky not too stiff It will pull away from the bowl but still want to stick to your fingers if you poke it. If it climbs the hook, stop the mixer and push down. Knead this way for 10 minutes.

Pull the dough off the hook and remove the bowl from the mixer. Try to form the dough into a ball. It will be sticky so it may help to rub some oil on one hand. Hold the dough in one hand and drop some olive oil into the bottom of the bowl. Hold the bowl with your clean hand while holding the dough with the other. Swirl the dough around to coat the mixer bowl and one side of the dough ball. Place the dough back in the bowl with the oil side up. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep in a warm place for 2-3 hours. 4 hours if you have it.

Gently push down. Lift out and press into an oblong or flat oval and then fold over and over until you get a football shape. Place on a baking stone or baking sheet with a sprinkle of cornmeal on the bottom. Slice the top diagonally with a very sharp knife. Don't worry if it doesn't open up like the picture. That happens during rise. Cover carefully with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise for 45 minutes - 1 hour. Brush water or egg white and sprinkle the coarse salt.

Preheat oven to 375.

Bake for 45 minutes - 50 minutes. The standard test for doneness is that a tap sounds hollow. I don't know what that means and I've probably baked over a hundred loaves since I started. It should be golden. If you cut it open and it looks doughy, return to oven. I generally go by time and I'm okay.

It was great! Super tangy and full of flavour. Commercial bread often has no flavour. It's like air. You'll find that alot with the white baguettes. You can use your starter for any number of types of bread. You just need to adjust the water or type of flour you're using.

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