Week 2 of Bread: Sourdough

February 4, 2008 at 11:46 am 7 comments

Sourdough Bread 

Wow, you people must be a bunch of carb-lovin’ junkies!  I knew there was a reason we all get along so well!  The resounding message at the end of last week was “more bread please!!”  And more you shall have in SFTF’s Week 2 of Bread!   I can feel my blood-sugar levels rising even as I type… 

Such a pretty loaf!

We’ll start this second week off with another standard in the bread maker’s repertoire.  I’ve had limited success myself with sourdough bread.  Don’t worry, the baking part is a piece of cake, er, bread.  It’s the mothering trait needed to nurture a good starter that flummoxes me every time.  Well, really, let me adjust that statement.  I can manage to nurse the starter for the required initial 24-48 hours and then make a batch of bread.  But I always fail to keep the starter fed after that first batch of bread is made.  It’s inhumane how I starve this poor helpless puddle of yeast every time.  And D wonders why I’m not so sure about having kids…

Not so pretty yeasty sourdough starter bubbling

I’ve been told (bear in mind, I can’t vouch for this myself) that the older the starter, the better the resulting sourdough bread.  So if you’re a domestic darling (or just someone with a better organizational/reminder system than yours truly) capable of lovingly and consistently feeding your starter, your bread really will improve with time.  That being said, this recipe turns out just fine even if you have to make a new starter every time.  There’s no shame in that, I promise! (is there?)

Dough really poofed up with a good sourdough starter

What there IS shame in is having five different kinds of bread for breakfast, like some of us might have had today!  In my meager defense, this embarrassing behavior is only to be expected when there are no less than six kinds of bread in the house.  This blogging about bread thing is going to be bad for my hips.  Oh, wondering which kind was left lonely in its plastic wrap?  It was the rosemary olive oil loaf that I am using exclusively for grilled cheese sandwiches.  It’s phenomenal.  But we’ll get to that one all in due time. 

Dust top of unbaked loaf with flour and slice with a sharp knife

Speaking of time, I think I’d better go see if there’s any hope left for the starter I used for this batch since it’s no doubt on life support by now.  Don’t worry, little yeast puddle, momma’s comin’!! 

Fresh sourdough loaf just out of the oven

Taken from The Practical Encyclopedia of Baking

1 package (¼ oz.) of active dry yeast
2 ½ c. warm water
1 ½ c. white bread flour

Combine the yeast and water, stir, and leave for 15 minutes to dissolve.  Sprinkle the flour over the water mixture and whisk until it forms a thin batter.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for at least 24 hours and preferably two to three days before using.

After using what you need or if it takes more than three days to get around to making the bread itself, feed the starter with a handful of flour and enough water to restore it to a batter consistency.  The starter can be refrigerated for up to a week without feeding but must be brought back to room temperature before using in a recipe.  A starter can be kept active indefinitely as long as you continue to feed it flour.

Thick starter goes into flour mixture

Taken from The Practical Encyclopedia of Baking

3 c. white bread flour
1 T. salt
½ c. warm water
1 c. sourdough starter (see above)

Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and add the starter and water.  With a spoon, stir from the center, incorporating more flour with each pass, to obtain a soft dough. 

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured countertop and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Place in a clean bowl and cover with a dishtowel.  Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 2 hours). 

Punch down the dough and knead briefly before shaping into an even loaf and placing in a lightly greased large (8 ½” x 4 ½”) loaf pan. Cover with a dishtowel or oiled plastic wrap.  Let dough rise above the pan rim (about 1 ½ hours). 

Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Dust top of risen loaf with a little flour and then score with a sharp knife lengthwise.  Bake for 15 minutes and then lower heat to 375 F and bake until bottom sound hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes more. 

(makes 1 loaf)

Slices of sourdough bread

Entry filed under: Bread, Recipes. Tags: , , , , , .

Week of Bread: Pita Week 2 of Bread: ‘Sin’namon

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gintoino  |  February 4, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Carb-lovin’ junkie…yeap, that’s me!
    I’ve been trying this “sourdough bread thing” for quite some time now, never with good results (either it doesn’t grow, or if it does the inside is not properly baked. I have to admit I think I’m the problem and not the sourdough…). Guess I’ll have to keep on trying…
    Might I had that rosemary olive oil loaf sounds great? (as in can’t wait for you to post the recipe 😉 )
    All this said I’m off to the kitchen to bake some more pita bread (at least those turn out perfect every time)

  • 2. Robin  |  February 4, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    mmmmmmmm The bread looks delicious! I love sour dough but I get lazy about feeding it. I can see it on the shelf in the fridge five times a day and think “gotta feed that today” but not do it. I dumped three down the drain a couple of weeks ago. All three jars had a half inch of hooch (alcohol) on top. I think it might have lethal. I’m going to make a couple of your recipes tomorrow.

    If you sprout wheat berries I would LOVE a lesson. I have no idea how to sprout the berries or use them.


  • 3. taylor  |  February 4, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Dude! More bread! Can you FedEx me one? I need some for my pb&j tomorrow.

  • 4. sorina  |  February 5, 2008 at 6:43 am

    Excellent instructions and photos. Awesome Post!

  • 5. Jennie  |  February 5, 2008 at 7:58 am

    Gintoino – You make me laugh, as you quite often do. 🙂 As for your sourdough problems, I think getting a good starter going has a lot to do with the kind of flour you use. The higher the gluten level in the flour, the happier the yeast will be (bubbles!). But you don’t have to master everything in the kitchen (it’s terribly embarrassing, but I can not cook rice to save my life) so stick with the glory of the pita! 🙂 As for that rosemary olive oil loaf, it will be yours soon (tomorrow)…

  • 6. Jennie  |  February 5, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Robin – Ask and you shall receive…I actually have a multi-grain bread recipe waiting in the wings that uses cracked/sprouted wheat berries. Stayed tuned and you’ll have your lesson shortly. 🙂

    In the meantime, can’t wait to hear what bread recipes you try out…please tell us how you liked them! If nothing else, maybe you can report back on ways to make moonshine gin from old sourdough starters… 😉

  • 7. Jennie  |  February 5, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Taylor – FedEx?? Pshhaw! Come an’ get it, baby! 😉


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