Tagged with: ‘In The Kitchen’

May 2, 2012 Sourdough Bread


I have an unhealthy obsession with bread.  I can literally eat it every single day, for every single meal, and for a few snacks in between.  French bread, sourdough bread, wheat bread, white bread, olive bread.  Really, all the breads. It’s a problem!

So, I really wanted to learn how to make my own.  I started with a pretty simple French Bread recipe that my mom sent me.  And it’s incredible!  But then, I was sitting at my favorite wine bar, chatting with my favorite wine guy and he let me in on his sourdough secret.  We worked out a little plan whereby I handed over a few pints of homemade ice cream and he gave me two cups of his sourdough starter.

And then, after many many many loaves of decent loaves, I did something different and magic happened.  Honestly, I don’t even know what I did.  But apparently I’ve been doing it steadily, and the results make me so happy.  And fat.  Fat & Happy.

So, here’s the only issue with making sourdough bread from a starter.  It takes FOREVER.  Nearly twenty four hours.  So, it takes some planning, but it’s well worth it!

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Brian’s Sourdough Bread Recipe:

7 cups unbleached bread flour (plus more for adjusting / kneading)
2 cups starter
2 1/4 cups water (plus more if needed)
3 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. barley malt syrup (optional but desirable)

Combine ingredients in a stand mixer bowl with dough hook and begin mixing, paying special attention to the moisture level–after a minute the dough should almost be finished coming together in a ball and this is the point to adjust the moisture one way or the other—you want the dough to just stop sticking to the bottom of the bowl but still be moist—without stopping the mixer try to assess and if necessary adjust  the moisture level—if its still stuck to the bottom add some more flour just to the point that it stops sticking—if it seems too dry dribble some water in, a few drops at a time.  Continue mixing for a total of 5 minutes.

Stop the mixer, remove the bowl with the dough from the mixer and cover for a 20 minute rest.

Remove the dough from the bowl to a floured surface for kneading–the dough should be soft and slightly sticky–hand-knead for two to three minutes adding a minimal amount of flour at the beginning to prevent sticking–until the dough is smooth and not sticky to the touch.  Dust the bowl with flour and return the dough to the bowl and cover (I use a kitchen/foodsafe garbage bag–just put the bowl in the bag and seal it up–they also come in handy in covering odd-shaped items like a tray of baguettes…)

Let the dough rise until fully doubled–usually 8-12 hours depending on the ambient temperature.  Be patient– you can tell when its done by feeling–it should feel flabby, like the arms of a fat baby(?!!)–also if you poke your finger into the dough it no longer has any springback.

Remove dough from the bowl back to a floured surface and gently squish the air bubbles out.  Divide and shape the dough into desired loafs.  Cover and let rise until almost doubled, about 4 hours.   Completely pre-heat oven to 500 degrees (it should be radiating heat) and bake the loafs,  22-25 minutes for baguettes /small rolls or about 30 minutes for large loafs. The color should be a fairly deep brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Cool completely before eating or wrapping.

For Freezing – wrap each loaf completely in tin foil and put it in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat it, heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the loaves, still wrapped in tin foil, for 30 minutes.  It should taste as good as freshly baked bread!


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