Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Basic Sourdough

I'm not really sure what it is about having more time to get things done that makes you do less. I think the excitement of being busy keeps you going strong. I blame this for my recent lack in posting. I haven't been a total waste, though. I've been experimenting with a few things, like scales and sourdough. First things first, let's talk about scales.

There are a few websites that post their ingredients by weight, not volume. For a while I steered clear of these recipes. I was either too scared to try something that seemed so advanced, or I just really didn't want to go out and buy a scale. However, I wasted more & more time on the internet and found a few pages that convinced me that having a scale was necessary. One of them was a post by Susan at Wild Yeast Blog, The Right Weigh. Here she really explains why scales are important and how they can be used for things such as Baker's Percentages (another one of her great posts, or four, the first of which is found here). She really knows what she is doing, so listen up and go buy yourself a scale! I got myself the Salter MaxView scale from BB&B for about $50, and it was well worth the money.

The next topic is sourdough. While it seems very daunting, it really isn't that difficult. It just takes some time. The thing that makes sourdough different is the fact that it uses an aged, fermented starter, which is composed simply of flour, water, and yeast. You can make your own starter at home (Another Wild Yeast post, very in depth tutorial by Heavenly Homemakers, etc. I will post on that in the future), or buy some commercially (from King Arthur Flour, for example). After that's done you can make some sourdough bread!

So here we go. This recipe is adapted from one I found at King Arthur Flour. 

1 cup / 8 oz active sourdough starter
1 1/2 cup / 12 oz lukewarm water
2 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp / 1/2 oz sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups / 15 1/4 oz all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups / 6 oz whole wheat flour

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Knead to form a smooth dough.
  2. Allow the dough to rise in a covered bowl until doubled in size, about a 75-90 minutes. 
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into two 10" logs or two round boules.
  4. Cover with a lightly oiled piece of plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size again, about 60 minutes.
  5. Near the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450°F.
  6. Wet a sharp knife and make two to four cuts in each loaf in either an X, a cross hatch, or diagonal slashes. 
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a deep golden brown. Let cool 1 hour before slicing.

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