Thursday, April 11, 2013

How I make White and Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

Whole wheat bread, ready to go into the oven.  I said I'd never use Instagram pics on my blog, but I just don't have time at this time of year to do anything else!

People have asked how I make sourdough bread, specifically how I make a wheat version of Northwest Sourdough's  basic white sourdough recipe.  I have simplified it for my distracted brain and incorporated some of what I learned when I used the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day method of baking.  I use the Northwest Sourdough recipe, and for wheat bread I change the amount of flour to about 6 cups. I use only white flour for my starter because I don't know how wheat will do.

I keep my starter in my refrigerator in a loosely covered container.  I didn't feed or use it for several months over the winter and when I wanted to use it this spring it was a bit lazy, but after feeding one time, it worked beautifully.  Ask around to see if anyone you know has a starter.  Otherwise, you can buy some at the Northwest sourdough website, or you can make your own.

A finished whole wheat loaf of sourdough bread.

So here's how I make: White or Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread

I activate the starter the night before by adding flour and water each in double the amount of the starter.  I usually activate 1 cup of starter so I have extra.  This means that I always mix together 1 cup starter with 2 c. water and 2 c. white flour.  It will immediately get bubbly.  Cover it and let it do its thing overnight.  Every time I bake, I store what is left after I use my activated starter back in the fridge.

The next day, mix 2 c. activated starter, 1 3/4 water, 1 T oil and 7 c. (or 6c.  if you are doing whole wheat) flour together.  Put it in your mixer bowl, with the kneading hook, cover with a damp cloth and go away. Walk by it 2 or three times in the day, uncover and run the mixer a few rounds.  At the 2nd mixing, I add in about 1-2 tsp. salt.

 *** Today I actually let my starter get all foamy and didn't use it until about 1:30 or something, and made a delicious pair of loaves late this evening.  They were white flour loaves. This is just to say that you don't have to throw your dough or starter out if you forget it.  Try it out and see what happens!

After the third rising, dust your cutting board with cornmeal.  Shape the dough into boule loaves. (These are the round or oval loaves, shaped by tucking the dough underneath until it looks all cute and puffy)  Dust with flour and set on the cutting board.  Cover with some sort of vapor barrier (plastic, a pan, whatever) Let them rise a bit.  Northwest Sourdough talks about how to tell if they've risen enough.

Heat the oven to 450 with your baking stones and broiler pan in there.  Uncover the loaves.  Slice the top of the loaves 4 times, the center cut being deepest so the loaves don't get gooey inside.

Open the oven.  Plop the loaves on the baking stones.  Grab about a cup of water, pour it quickly into your hot broiler pan, which is on the rack below the baking stones.  It will steam the loaves.    Close the oven door quickly.  Bake the loaves 20-25 minutes at 450, then turn down to 425 and bake about 15-20 minutes more.  The bread should be golden brown and sound hollow when you tap it.  I am not a bread expert, so I sometimes turn the bread upside down and cut into the center to see that it has cooked all the way through!

Eat it when it's hot and really hard to slice, but especially delicious.

The End.

Some white sourdough that I let rise maybe a bit too much, but it was so crusty and light and good, I think it was ok.