I have been experimenting with sourdough breads. The various books and articles take you through arduous kneading, rising, forming, shaping steps and then backing with steam (tray full of iron parts and chain). However, reproducibility has been a problem, plus I don’t want to have to attend to it too much during the day long rise.. All too often I would end up with low dense loaf with nice crust. But this was not what I was looking for.
This version is a favorite and now quite repeatable. It freezes well and it makes the absolute best grilled cheese sandwiches.
Base recipe is based on King Arthur Flour (KAF)- Multigrain Sourdough Boule. See: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/multi-grain-sourdough-boule-recipe
Day 1 Feed the starter
Pull the starter from the fridge. Pour off any grey liquid on top (if you let it sit a bit too long). Dump the starter into a mixing bowl that you can cover. I have started using the whole starter rather than discarding a portion up front. This gives more sourdough flavor and is not as wasteful. My starter has been neglected for up to 6 weeks in the fridge at times.
- Add 1C flour (your choice) I generally use all purpose flour – Gold Medal unbleached or KAF
- Add 3/4 c water. This can be adjusted. You want a wet but not runny starter.
Cover and let it rise over night. I will often start this after work on Friday. My oven has a 100 degree F proofing setting which is very helpful. The starer should almost double at peak activity and be nice and bubbly. The next morning it should have and even bubbly texture, sort of like thick batter. It will thin out in consistency while rising.
Day 2 Make The Bread
Moisten the grains
- 1c boiling water
- 1c King Arthur flour Harvest Grains Blend
- 2 TB poppy seeds – as I like lots of poppy seeds in the bread
Mix and let sit in bowl until it drops to room temperature , then add the following ingredients:
- 2c fed starter (from above). The balance of the starter is then returned to the crock and refrigerated.
- 1 1/4 c KAF sprouted whole wheat flour
- 1/2 c Rye flour
- 1 3/4 Bread flour such as KAF Artisan Bread flour. You need a high gluten flour
- 3 1/2 tsp KAF Whole Grain Bread Improver This seems to help build a nicer loaf that does not fall as easily
- 1.5 tsp sea salt
- 1.5 -2 tsp instant dry yeast . I use SAF – keep the back sealed/ clipped in the freezer and it lasts for years
- 2 TB olive oil
Knead the mixture for 3 minutes. I use a Kitchenaid on speed 2 with dough hook. The dough should be soft and not too sticky. You may well have to adjust either adding up to 1/2 c flour or 1/4 c water depending on the humidity and how wet the sourdough starter was. If it is repeatedly crawling up the dough hook and spinning, it is still too dry. Push down, poke a hole in the middle and add water. If it is sticking to the bowl and not rising up the hook at all, it is too wet.
Still too wet and sticky
Once it is the right consistency, knead for an additional 2 minutes. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it rise until doubled. At 100 degrees this takes 1.5- 2 hours. Don’t let it go too long (e.g 3 or 4) or the second rise will not work.
Kneed the dough rolling around on floured surface to tighten the “skin” . Lightly oil or grease the bottom and sides of a dutch oven or other large covered pan. Place the dough in the pan and let rise again for another 2 hours.
Ready to rise the second time
Remove pan from oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.
You can slash the top if desired. However, I often seem to cause it to fall too much if I do.
Bake the bread covered for 40 min.
Uncover and continue baking for another 10-15 min. Remove when the center internal temperature is 190 degrees. I normally insert the thermometer probe when uncovering the pan with the remote readout outside the oven (Thermoworks Chef Alarm).
Remove from oven and let it sit in the pan for 5 min, then turn out onto a cooling rack.
Cool to room temp prior to cutting (if you can wait that long). Apparently my wife Teal can’t.
We typically freeze 1/2 the loaf as there is just the 2 of us now. The flours and yeast all are stored in the freezer as well (milk crate for my baking supplies). The whole grains an whole grain flours go rancid too quickly otherwise.
The King Arthur Flour website is a great resource for recipes, tips and supplies.
Good books on bread making include:
- The Bread Bakers Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
- Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller
- BakeWise by Shirley Corriher which is the companion to CookWise, which is another favorite.