Saturday, May 26, 2007

Basic Sourdough Baking

Making bread from sourdough starter is so easy. I just take a cup or so of the (room temperature) starter and mix it with a cup each of flour and warm water. (Don't forget to feed your starter also--100 grams each of flour and water makes about a cup of starter.)

I let that double; it's called the sponge. Then I mix a teaspoon or two of salt into another cup of flour (the general rule is about 2 teaspoons of salt to a regular-sized loaf of bread), mix that into the sponge, and add more flour until it's a bread dough consistency. Add oil, herbs or sugar if desired--I like to add about 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup each of oil and honey.

You don't want the dough to be too stiff, but you can knead quite a lot of flour into it . . . I probably usually end up working a total of about 3 cups of flour into the sponge, including the cup I mixed with salt. The dough should still be just slightly sticky after kneading, but firm enough to hold its shape. If you get it too stiff, just add a little warm water or oil.

Next, flour and/or grease your bread pan (I use a baking stone, which I just flour) and put the dough on it. If you're using a stone, shape the loaf taller than it is wide because it spreads out to the sides as it rises. Sometimes I lightly slash the top of the loaf to allow it to rise without "exploding" unevenly.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap or something and let it rise till double, then bake it. I usually put the breadstone with the loaf in the cold oven, then turn the oven on to 350 degrees F and let it bake for 40-60 minutes or until it looks done.

I've been surprised at how un-sour it tastes; it's not nearly as sour as commercial sourdough. The longer it proofs the more sour it will be, and being refrigerated will give it a sharper flavor. If you find it too sour, you can always add a little sweetener or a teaspoon of baking soda to cut the acidity.

Depending on what you add to it, you can make many different types of bread, rolls, even cinnamon rolls. You can also use the sponge or fresh sourdough starter as the acid in quick breads, with no extra rising time. Mixed with baking soda it works just like baking powder. The general rule is no more than a teaspoon of leavening per cup of flour, but I usually use 1 to 2 teaspoons per batch of bread or muffins. I'll be posting a sourdough muffin recipe on Restricted Gourmet soon.

1 comment:

Kai said...

Thanks for this recipe. I've always been afraid of trying sourdough (it seems so complex!) but I just may give it a whirl now!