Saturday, December 18, 2004

Sourdough Bread

Bob Hurt

I love making bread. Yesterday I made 4 loaves of sourdough, egg-washed and sprinkled with sesame seeds, then roasted toasty and golden brown. Maria went nuts over it, and made us a hoagie out of the the smaller baguette.

My sourdough starter is not really all that sour. I made it myself and feed it flour and water every couple of days, after drinking the "hooch" liquor off the top. The hooch has plenty of alcohol in it, and the liquid collects on the top of the starter after it sits a day or so. I started the starter from commercial yeast mixed in with 50-50 flour-water and a couple tablespoons of sugar. After fermenting for a week it began to get a sour taste, but it still is not like the sour taste of real sourdough starter. Maybe I should add some vinegar to it...

Anyway, I mixed 4 cups of bread flour, two cups of starter, and a cup and a third of pure water together to make a sticky batter, and set it in the fridge. 14 hours later I removed it, let it sit for 2 hours to warm up, mixed in 4 tsp salt and a cup of bread flour, and kneaded it in my cuisinart for 5 minutes.

Then I tried forming it into loaves for the final rise. That did not work. The loaves just slumped into a flat shape. So, I kneaded in another cup of bread flour and a little salt. Then I was able to form it into loaves, two in oiled bowls, and two in a baguette baking form. I turned the oven light on, covered the loaves with oiled plastic wrap, and set them into the oven to rise.

Two hours later they looked big enough, so I removed them, cranked the oven temp to 450, and waited 45 minutes. My oven does not get to 450, but it does make it to 400. I stuck the baguette form in and plopped one of the bowls upside down on the baking stone. When I removed the bowl, the glutinous blob slumped down into the shape of a fried egg yolk. I shut the oven door, and 15 minutes later removed the loaves, brushed them with 50-50 milk/egg mix, sprinkled them with sesame seeds, and popped them back in. 20 minutes later I removed the baguettes, a rich, roasted, goldish brown. 10 minutes later I removed the rounded loaf which had risen nicely during cooking. I then cooked the remaining blob in the same way.

Now, as I write this, Maria brings me another hoagie made from the remaining baguette. I'll take it back into the kitchen to douse it with oil and vinegar, salt, pepper, and some oregano flakes. Yummy.