aka some further sourdough adventures and a pic of the week!
So Thursday morning, my starter (Seymour) was tasting distinctly sour, so into the fridge he went (refrigeration keeps the development of the starter sort of on hold).
The question then became, what was I going to make with Seymour? I looked around a bit on the web but, in the end, I decided to KISS and go with one of the recipes from How to Bake a Perfect Life. One because the starter recipe is from there, so it seemed a good fit and two, because the recipe still had a teeny bit of yeast added in case Seymour was a dud.
So this morning, Seymour left the fridge so he could warm up to room temperature again. I was happy to see he still had a few bubbles and had developed a liquid layer on top (apparently a good thing…you just stir it back it). Then I set out to make the Soft and Delicious wheat bread from the book. Only mine was going to be soft and delicious half white half wheat bread as I knew I didn’t have the full amount of wholemeal flour I needed.
Bread is a funny beast, you never know how much flour a given amount of liquid will want to absorb on any given day…today is mild, overcast and slightly humid in Melbourne. The recipe calls for 8-9 cups of flour all up. I think mine has about 6 cups with maybe another half a cup added in through the kneading process and it’s about 4 cups of white flour to 2 cups of wholemeal.
So here’s the first step (well the second step after the dough rests for a bit initially)…dough after first batch of kneading ready for the first rise.
And about an hour or so later, here it is all nicely doubled in size (at which point the baker breathes a sigh of relief because the starter seems to be okay).
All nice and soft and squishy and full of the gases that help the bread rise. Which means you have to get rid of some of the gases before you do the second rise. So you tip out the dough and “punch” it down. Though it’s really more like pressing unless you’ve had a no good very bad day (please don’t abuse the dough).
After it’s punched down, it gets another little rest (to recover from the pummelling as we all need to do), then you knead some more (baking is good for the arm muscles) and then shape the dough. I went with good old fashioned loaves-to-be-baked-in-tins.
The loaves go off for another hour or sough of rising (until they’ve doubled in size roughly). Which gives you this…
All nice and puffy again, ready for the oven. I heated the oven with a pan of water in it (commercial ovens are generally steamy…this helps get a crunchy crust). My oven is fan forced so I think I used about 170 Celsius rather than 180. While the bread was baking, I refreshed Seymour (fed him more flour and water to make up for the part of him I used in the bread) and he promptly started to froth and bubble up nicely so apparently he’s happy to be used.
I started checking the loaves at about 40 mins as my oven tends to cook fast. And the smell of baking bread makes me impatient to EAT the bread. Recommended bake time was an hour. Mine were done at about 50…and came out of the oven looking like this…(at this point, I stopped being slack and pulled out the good camera…they were so pretty they deserved the good camera).
That second one is my pic of the week, something about it just makes me happy. (And further proves the joys of a DSLR…exact same lighting, way better pictures!).
Of course, the proof is in the eating. I womanfully let the bread cool for 15 minutes or so then cut myself a slice.
It is indeed, soft and delicious. The crust is slightly crunchy, slightly chewy and while there isn’t a strong sourdough tang, there’s definitely a deeper flavour than you get with yeast alone. The crumb is more like a yeast bread (sour dough would have bigger holes) but it’s got a bit of heft to it. Final verdict overall – yum!
So, all in all, the first experiment is successful. I have a long weekend next week, so I’ll try a more traditional sourdough recipe with longer rising times etc.