Baking Day: Classic Sourdough Bread

I love bread. I mean really love it. I would have to say the best smell in the world is a fresh loaf of bread baking in the oven. Do they make air freshener in that scent, how about candles? I have been baking bread just about as long as I can remember. I have a recipe from my grandma for the best Oatmeal Cinnamon Bread in the world that I have made so many times I could do it with my eyes closed. Don’t worry, that post will come at a later time. Recently, I decided to challenge myself. I have embarked on the journey into sourdough. Mmmmm sourdough. It is much more complicated and involved than I ever thought. It really is like having a pet. Sourdough must have a starter. What is a starter you say? Well…it is a mixture of flour, water and a tiny amount of yeast that has been allowed to ferment. If kept out of the refrigerator it must be “fed” daily by removing a portion of it and adding more flour and water to keep the yeast happy and producing. The portion that is removed can then be given to a friend or turned into anything from bread, to cake, to waffles and muffins by first forming a “sponge”. That is just a way of saying you add more flour and water and let it sit about 12 hours before you use it.  I have tried it all and our freezers are packed full of goodies. I finally had to retire Spongette from the counter to the fridge where she only has to be fed once a week. Here is Spongette when I first started her about a month ago.   

Spongette, yep I named my starter.

I have found a classic sourdough bread recipe that we are very fond of around here. It has a nice crispy crust with a chewy dense crumb…oh, so good. I am eating some as I type! Just know that I am still new to the sourdough world, so my techniques are not perfect and neither is my bread, but it tastes good and that’s all that matters!  The original recipe can be found here about 3/4 of the way down the page. I will type it out for convenience.   

Classic Sourdough Bread

1 cup sourdough starter   

1 1/3 cups warm water (body temp)   

1 tablespoon sugar   

1 tablespoon salt   

1 teaspoon baking soda   

5-6 cups flour, I use unbleached bread flour   

cornmeal for sprinkling   

The Sponge

Place starter, water and 3 c flour in a ceramic or glass bowl (NOT METAL). Stir vigorously, cover with plastic wrap and put aside someplace warm for 2-24 hours depending on how sour you want your bread. I usually let it work about 6 hours or so. I like to leave mine in the oven with only the light on, that’s about 78 degrees for me.   

The Dough

After the sponge is bubbly and  has expanded it’s time to make dough! Blend salt, sugar and baking soda with 2 cups of flour. Then add in the sponge. When the dough becomes cohesive, turn out onto floured surface, add flour so it is a stiff dough (up to 1 cup) and knead for 3-4 min. Let the dough rest for 10-15 min. and knead 3-4 min again. I got lazy this year and finally got a kitchen aid mixer for Christmas. I let the mixer knead for me now!   

This is me working hard at kneading!

Shape dough into loaves and place on a cookie sheet or baking stone sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with a little cooking spray and let rise until double. This time can very depending on how active your starter is and the room temperature. Mine took about 3 hours.   

Shaped dough before the last rise.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat up a few cups of water in the microwave and place in an ovenproof container on the rack below where you are going to bake. Cut slits into the loaves every 2 inches about 1/4 inch deep just before baking with a very sharp knife. I use a razor blade. Brush with cold water. Bake at 425 degrees (the recipe says 450, but mine got too dark at that temp) for 25 minutes.   

The finished product.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. youngwifey
    Feb 10, 2010 @ 07:19:17

    It looks so good I can almost smell it! Welcome to the blogging world.


  2. Chef Tess
    Feb 15, 2010 @ 22:33:59

    Looks great so far! Sourdough is one of my favorite breads as well. Very pretty bread!


  3. LCD TV
    Feb 16, 2010 @ 05:59:15

    Great articles


  4. pirmasens nagelstudio
    Mar 03, 2010 @ 23:07:29

    Thank you for your guide!


  5. Trackback: Meal Planning: May’s Monthly Menu « Coby's Corner

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