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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

In my last post, I gave instructions for creating a sourdough starter. It should be fed and grown on the counter (not the fridge) for a week before the first time using it. I find the best success in rising my dough when I feed the dough the night before I want to use it, so that it gets really active during the night. Then I mix up my dough in the morning. 

Here is a recipe I use most often- It makes a uniform, easy to slice bread which is great for sandwiches. It has a thin top crust (not super crunchy like Italian bread, but not soft like store bought sandwich bread.) I have also made dinner rolls, and Chris has made bagels, all with the same starter. The dough gets nice and sour, which I like- but you can experiment with rising time and amount of starter used to get yours less or more sour.

Sourdough Sandwich Bread

-2 cups active, 100% hydration starter {as mentioned above, feed it and let it get bubbly (active) before using it. For me, this is best done overnight.}

-3 cups bread flour (I try to use whole wheat if possible. Sometimes I just can't find it, so I use white flour. But I always use bread flour for recipes with yeast- or in this case, starter. It has more gluten and will lend better to a stretchy dough, and then will provide for a better bread consistency.)

-2 teaspoons-2 tablespoons sugar (the sugar is not really needed to feed the yeast in this recipe- the flour will do that just fine. The sugar is only for taste, and can be left out if preferred.)

-1 teaspoon salt

-2 tablespoons oil, plus more for oiling bowl- you can use olive oil for the flavor. If I don't want that flavor I use sunflower oil instead. Both work fine.

-warm water- I don't measure the water, I only add until I get the right consistency.

1. Mix everything but the water in a large bowl. I start out with a spoon but eventually it is just easier to use your (clean) hands. The dough will probably be a little scraggly. It might seem impossible to get all the flour incorporated. This is where you add some warm water. I add just a few tablespoons at a time- I don't want it getting TOO wet, I just want it to all come together and be one mass and not scraggly bits.

2. Once the dough comes together, dump the ball onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Knead with the heels of your hands for 15-20 minutes. The longer it is kneaded, the more gluten is formed. The more gluten is formed, the chewier the inside of the finished baked bread. One way to know if it is kneaded enough is to look for a "baker's windowpane."

3. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl (I just oil the bowl I mixed it all in, in step 1, and then move the kneaded dough ball back to it.) Cover the dough with a clean, damp kitchen cloth or plastic wrap, close to the dough to prevent a skin from forming and to allow it to maximize rising. Put the bowl in a warm, draft free place- I like to put it in the oven (turned off, of course.) I let it rise 3-5 hours, or until the dough is doubled in size, sometimes more. It all depends on how sour I want it to get- the longer it is allowed to rise, the more pronounced the sourness will be.

4. Punch the dough down a few times, and roll it onto a clean surface. Knead it a few times and transfer it to an un-greased loaf pan. Cover it again with the kitchen cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rise another few hours, or until the dough reaches the top of the pan.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the kitchen cloth and transfer the loaf pan to the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. To check if baked through, tap on the loaf- it should sound kind of hollow.

6. Remove the loaf from the pan, and allow to cool before slicing. Although, we never really let it cool enough before "testing" it.

Will you try making your own bread? I find kneading therapeutic, and the smell of baking bread is a-ma-zing when the temperature dips. Who needs candles? ;)

1 comment:

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