Sourdough- My First Bread Sans Package Yeast
Chapter Two: And We Have Loaf!
The thrills of bread. Nothing beats the smell of homemade bread baking, except maybe the smell of homemade sourdough bread. After nursing my very own starter for almost a week it was time to let my little one grow.
I was surprised how much longer sourdough takes to rise, but the smell it released sitting there in my steamy apartment was incomparable: both tangy and yeasty. Sourdough makes a slightly denser loaf than commercial yeasts do and, needless to say, a different taste as well.
The fabulous thing about the starter is that, now that I have made it, I have a constant supply of it living in my fridge. Feed it once a week to keep it happy, and I have all the bread I can eat for almost no money.
Since I was starting with zero knowledge of sourdough I followed the recipe on S. John Ross’s page, which to my surprise (most 1st-try recipes have a way of turning out slightly wonky) produced a beautiful and delicious loaf. The only problem was I only made ½ of the recipe. I thought with only two people in the house we could never eat it all before it went hard…so very, very wrong!
2 cups of sponge (that means the starter you took out, and fed a few hours ago with warm water and flour-it should be frothy, yeasty, slightly sour smelling and full, full, full of bubbles.)
3 cups flour (unbleached is best)
2 tablespoons oil
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
Flour for dusting the loaf
To make this bread add the first ingredients together and kneed it until it is smooth and elastic, around 10 minutes. If it is sticking to your fingers like mad, add more flour.
It is nearly impossible to give a recipe for bread because flours can differ so much, you just need to keep an eye on it and make sure that the dough has the right flour/liquid balance.
Once you are done kneading, cover with a tea towel and let sit an hour or two until doubled in size. Be patient. I know it smells good but you are just going to have to wait. When it is done rising, punch it down and knead for another minute or two, then form your loaf on a baking tray.
Let it rise again, until it is double the size, and slit the top with a very sharp knife. This allows the steam to get out, plus it looks phenomenal. Bake at 350 until the top is golden brown and the bottoms sounds hollow when you tap on it. Try to wait for at least 10 minutes before you eat the whole loaf, that gives the bread time to settle. I also dust my loaf with a little flour, I have heard this makes for a crustier crust, but I just like how it looks.
Not that I was excited, but I also tried making a whole-wheat sourdough that worked quite well for my sandwich making. Just swap out ¾ cup- 1 cup of flour for whole wheat, this may make your loaf rise even slower, but it is worth the wait.
Tip: If your live in a place that is chilly, try heating the oven until it is warm (not hot!) you should still be able to place your hand inside it without a problem, even touch the side. Turn it off and let the bread rise inside.
Chapter One: The Bubbles Begin!