Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The longest wait for food ever or Classic Sourdough Bread

Sourdough is on the list of 100 Foods I Want to Make. So cross another one off the list. Yay (just excuse that I totally missed the deadline)!

Every first Monday of the month my newspaper contains the Relish magazine insert. I always glance at it and think I will make something from it but I never do. Until I got October's issue.

There on the cover, in all it's carbohydrate goodness, was the most beautiful sourdough bread ever. I intently read the article to The Good Baby, assuring her in a few months she could eat some as well. Hell, in a few months the first batch might be finished by then.

It's no lie that sourdough takes forever to make. You have to make the starter and let it good and soured before you can even begin to think about making bread. But it was on my list and I wanted to concur it.

I made my first batch of bread 2 weeks after beginning my starter. I made the second batch a week after that. I could tell the difference. The sour taste was just a little more ripe than the first batch and just the way I like it.

So the wait wasn't that bad.

Sourdough Starter

3 (1/4-ounce) packets dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

~Dissolve yeast in water in a large plastic container (gallon-size works well). Add sugar. When yeast bubbles (about 10 minutes), stir in flour until you have a smooth paste.

~Cover loosely to allow gases to escape and place in a warm spot in your kitchen 2 to 3 days. The mixture should bubble and give off a sour odor. Stir starter once a day, making sure to stir in any crust that’s formed. After this point, you can store starter in the refrigerator or leave it out in a cool, dark area of your kitchen.

~Feed starter by stirring in 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1/2 cup water every day if you leave it out, or every few days if it’s refrigerated; otherwise, it will become too acidic and eventually die.

~Once starter has grown a few weeks and has reached full strength, you can decrease feedings to once a week.

~If you don’t use your starter regularly, it’s going to get unruly and burst the bounds of its container. Give some away to friends along with feeding and baking instructions.

Recipe by Gesine Prado, "The Start of Something Good," Oct. 2009.

Classic Sourdough Bread

1 cup Sourdough Starter (see recipe)
2 1/4 cups warm water, divided
5 to 7 cups white bread flour, divided
2 (1/4-ounce) packets dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar, divided
2 teaspoons salt

~Mix sourdough starter, 2 cups water and 5 cups flour in a large bowl. Mix well; cover with a dish towel and let rise 8 hours or overnight.

~Combine yeast, 1/4 cup warm water, and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Let stand 5 minutes, until mixture bubbles.

~Place flour mixture in the bowl of a stand mixture. Add yeast mixture, salt and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Mix well. With your hands or a dough hook, knead while gradually adding up to 2 additional cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Knead until a smooth, soft dough forms. Dough should be shiny and supple, not sticky and wet. If you plan to add additional ingredients (see note), add them at this point so they are evenly distributed.

~Place dough in an oiled bowl; cover with a dishtowel and let rise about 2 hours.

~Punch down and divide in half for 2 large loaves or fourths for 4 smaller loaves. Knead each portion by hand on a lightly floured surface until smooth; shape into rounds. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly cover with a dishtowel. Let rise 1 hour, until double in size.

~Preheat oven to 375F. Just before placing bread in the oven, place an ovenproof bowl filled with 2 cups of water or ice cubes in the bottom of oven to create steam to help bread form a crisp crust.

~Slash tops of loaves with a sharp knife. For a rustic look, sprinkle with flour. Bake about 45 minutes, until loaves sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Makes 2 loaves, 12 servings each.

Recipe by Gesine Prado, "The Start of Something Good," Oct. 2009.

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