Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Adventures with Sourdough

It has been way too long since I've posted anything.  I have no excuse for it.  I've actually done a lot of baking/cooking, and I really need to post what I've made so I don't forget to write about anything.  Somehow, even though class are over (at least until August), I've still been really busy.  That's definitely due to the fact that I jumped right back into things in lab.  The weather has been so gross lately that I figured I would rather be in the lab, being productive.  So lab, combined with a week-long clinical rotation in surgical pathology, has completely worn me out.  I can't really complain though.  And I still had enough time to watch the entire first season of Vampire Diaries last week!  It was really good actually.

But back to food.  I'm going to do separate posts for everything I've made, and I will attempt to do it chronologically.  Not that it makes any difference to you!

A few posts back I talked about receiving a sourdough starter in the mail.  As soon as exams were over, I was very excited to use it!  When I received it, the first thing I did was add 1.5 cups warm water and 2 cups flour (a combination of all purpose and whole wheat flour), and let it sit out at room temperature for 24 hours.  I may be repeating myself from the previous post.  Then I let it sit in the fridge, undisturbed, for one week.  After that I was set to use it!

This first recipe came from the person who sent me the starter.  She's been making it for quite some time now!  It's a great sandwich bread, and doesn't have a typical tangy sourdough flavor.  I'm definitely going to do some experimenting with the starter.  This was a great beginning recipe.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Sandwich Bread
1/4 cup sourdough starter
1 cup warm water
1 cup + 2 tbsp whole wheat flour

1/2 cup warm water
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour, sifted

If your sponge has some liquid on top, stir it back in.
Mix together the sponge ingredients.  Put it in a warm place for 8-12 hours.
After the time is up, stir the sponge (it should be springy from the gluten).
Keep 11 oz to use for the recipe, and mix the rest back in with the starter in the fridge.
Mix the water, sugar, olive oil and salt together until it is all dissolved.  Add this to the 11 oz of sponge.
Add 1 cup of flour to the batter and stir 100 strokes (all in the same direction) to build gluten.
Add the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well each time until it is incorporated before adding more.  Add only enough to form a ball of dough that is not too sticky.
Lightly flour a surface, and knead the dough for at least 5 minutes.  Add more flour as necessary.
Oil a large bowl.  Form the dough into a ball and rub it against the bowl to coat with oil, and cover the bowl with a cloth or plastic wrap.
Let it rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until doubled.  Test with two fingers - if the imprint remains, then it is ready.
Punch it down to remove air.  Fold over edges of dough about five times, going in a circle.  Turn dough over and return to the warm place for 1/2 hour to rest.
Oil and flour a 9x5 loaf pan.  Flatten the dough to remove air pockets.  Roll both side edges to the center, meeting in the middle.  Pinch together really well to seal it at the center.  Fold in the two ends, and flip it over, so the seam is facing down in the loaf pan.  Set it so it is touching the pan on all sides.
Cover lightly and let rise about 1-1.5 hours, until it fills the pan.
Preheat oven to 375.  Bake for 45 minutes.  If it is starting to get too dark, cover with foil.
Thump the loaf on the bottom with your finger, it is done if it sounds hollow.
Remove from the pan immediately and cool to room temperature on a cooling rack.
Don't cut into it when it's still hot, even though you really want to!

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