Monday, January 28, 2013

Adventures with sourdough

I've been experimenting with sourdough for about 2 weeks now. I made my own starter using the instruction here. I used rye flour; the instructions say not to use home-ground flour, so I had no other choice. It didn't grow for 24 hours, but that's normal. After that, I fed it every 12 hours, gradually switching to unbleached flour in the fourth day. I kept it on unbleached flour for 3-4 days, then switched to whole wheat flour.

They say not to use it until it is a week old, so I didn't. But, the day it was a week old, I attempted to make a loaf. I followed a recipe that says to only let it rise 1.5 hours. It didn't move, so I let it rise another 3. It still wasn't very risen, but I baked it anyway...I didn't slash the top of the loaf, either.

The results were edible, but dense. Because I hadn't slashed the loaf, it tore along the sides. Oh well, at least it was edible! That night, I tried again. This time, I used a different recipe. Actually, I tried two; one was a rye bread and the other a whole wheat bread. The rye recipe called for 2 cups of rye, 2 cups of whole wheat, 1/2 cup starter, and only 1 cup of water. That was way too dense to even work with, so I added another 1/2 cup of water and let it sit overnight.

The other recipe called for 1 cup of starter, 3 cups of whole wheat, and 1.5 cups of water (plus 1.5 teaspoons of salt). I just mixed up the ingredients and let them sit, covered, overnight. The next morning, I poured the dough out on a floured surface, let it rest about 20 minutes before forming it into a loaf; I didn't grease the glass loaf pan. I then let it rise for about 3 hours and baked it in a cool oven at 375°F for 70 minutes.

At the same time, I was attempting to make the rye bread. It had barely risen; it was way too dense to rise much. Well, I figured it was worth a try, so I kneaded it some, formed it into two loaves, using lightly greased stainless steel loaf pans, and let it rise for 3 hours before popping it into a preheated 450°F oven.

I ended up with a very chewy whole wheat bread and 2 dense, barely edible rye loaves. The ungreased pan stuck, but I used a paring knife around the outside edge; the greased pans made the crust tough. Not too bad for the second try. Good enough to try again, anyway.

That night I made a cinnamon raisin dough. I used the same recipe as the whole wheat, but added 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, a tablespoon of unrefined sugar, and 1/2 cup raisins. It rose nicely overnight. I formed it into a loaf, used parchment paper to line the glass loaf pan, and let it rise about 3 hours. I popped it into a cool oven and baked it for 60 minutes at 375°F. The parchment paper almost fell off the loaf when I took it out of the pan. I let the loaf cool for about 1/2 hour (they say to let it stand for an hour—yeah, right!) It was delicious!

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