Tuesday, September 23, 2008

King Arthur Flour's Sourdough Bread

With all this time on my hands, I decided to create a sourdough starter. I've never been afraid to cultivate one, because to my mind it's as simple as some flour and water. I created my starter based on the formula from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I haven't yet turned it into the barm required for Reinhart's recipes but I've been feeding it regularly as a normal starter. I've been away from it for a week, as I was by in Monsey with the little kiddies but upon my return I was anxious to try it out. I first refreshed it with a cup of water and flour by weight. I left it to ferment at room temperature to find the next morning that it had creeped out of its container onto the counter. I couldn't be more overjoyed. It's alive! That's all I could think. I looked all over for a recipe I really wanted to try but since all my books are six thousand miles away, I was slightly limited. So I turned to the recent blog entry on the King Arthur Flour blog devoted to sourdough and decided to make their recipe. The entry can be seen here. The dough assembly went smoothly. I opted to knead the dough in my KitchenAid mixer, which was a good idea because I've been finding that sourdough sticks to everything! I needed to add a few extra tablespoons of water to get the dough to absorb all of the flour but it finally did. The rising was a slower than usual process, something I didn't realize about sourdough either. But it pulled through. Yes, I'll admit, I did have my doubts that my starter could raise a bread all by itself, but I doubt no more. Shaping was a little hasty because it was so sticky and I didn't want to deflate any bubbles. I've learned that lesson. I tried to slash the dough properly but my technique is so poor! I need to get me a good, smooth, clean razor ASAP. I baked the loaves with steam, even though that wasn't called for. I was hoping to get a nice dark crust but once again my loaves turned out an anemic shade of brown. I am badly, BADLY needing a pizza stone. I don't think I can handle another pale loaf. On the bright side, the bread's crumb was nicer than I had thought it would be. I thought it would be completely even but it has a few relatively larger holes, which pleased me. As for the flavor, to me it wasn't tangy or sour which I had looked forward to, although the aftertaste of sourdough is detectable. All in all it was a great experience and the bread is delicious. A good sandwich bread. I can not wait to keep using this baby!

My fed sourdough starter...

...with some water...

...and flour.

Here is the built starter all mixed,

nicely risen and bubbly and headed off to the refrigerator for the night.

Salt and sugar in the mixing bowl.

Some more flour,
and the chilled starter mixture.

Here's the dough full kneaded and ready to rise.

The dough all risen. Took forever, but it finally doubled itself.

"Divided" into two portions.

The two "shaped" loaves on parchment and ready to proof.

Nice and puffy..

...but dreadfully scored.

And anemically browned. I tried.

A nice creamy interior with pretty decent crumb structure. Mmmmm!

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