Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I've Been Feeling A Little Guilty of Late

It's been over a month since my last batch of sourdough bread and quite honestly I have been feeling a little guilty about it. I've been sidelined since falling on some black ice in February and hitting my head pretty hard which is the main reason for my tardiness. It is difficult for me to spend a lot of time at the computer working on my blog too which is frustrating in itself. Thank goodness I have this blog because it is one of the few things that helps me keep my sanity.

Well, today I started a batch of bread using the Best Damn Alaskan Sourdough Starter. It came out of the mixer a little after twelve noon and since I now take a lot of naps I will be baking bread most likely around midnight tight. During the winter I like to let the dough sit for up to 24 hours but since it summer, the basement is about five to ten degrees warmer than normal and the dough will turn to liquid mush if I wait that long. What I really need is a second fridge where I could let it sit. 

My basic bread recipe is one batch of starter, 3 cups water, some salt to taste (varies per persons needs) in this case I use a tablespoon and 9 cups white flour. I used my Bosch Universal Mixer to mix it all together and let it run with the dough hook for about ten minutes.

If you do not have an electric stand mixer I highly recommend a Danish Dough Hand Whisk. Check it out. If you are really strong and industrial you can do it all by hand by starting out in a large bowl until the dough is stiff and then turn it out onto your counter top until you have worked in all nine cups of flour. We used to make our homemade whole wheat bread this when we were younger.

I then place the dough (stiff and not gooey or sticking to the bowl or the center post) into a large bowl I have greased and I take it to the basement to sit for 12-16 hours. I then bring back upstairs, preheating the oven with my Travertine tiles and cast iron pan to 475F for about an hour. Meanwhile I form my loaves and place them on an upside down baking sheet that has been covered in cornmeal. I use my homemade lame to score the loaves as well. I ten cover them with a damp cloth and let rise for a couple hours or until I think they are at their peak. Then I boil some water and place it in the cast iron frying pan that is on my bottom rack then I place the bread in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. When the times goes off I reduce the temp to 400F and reset the timer to 30 minutes. When it goes off I may or may not decide to let the bread stay in the oven for a little while longer. I have backed my bread for 60 to 75 minutes to no ill effect other than a darker red crust.

One tool I used to use quite a bit was one of these Digital Meat Thermometers to check the internal temperature of my bread. If you are concerned about whether or not your bread is cooked enough or not then get one. Besides, it has many other handy uses too. 

We haven't been sitting still with the starter though because I have made several batches of pancakes. I hate to wash unused starter down the drain.

Sourdough has several uses and if you ask me it tastes even better when it's a day old and a little tougher. I love the crunchy crisp crust you get when the bread comes fresh from the oven. This is something you only get with steam and is why it is so important to have a pan in the oven when you preheat it.

One thing I have never made from sourdough are biscuits and this is something I intend to work on. 

So if you are wondering what you can do with sourdough here is a short list: Sourdough Pancakes, Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls, Sourdough Hamburger Buns, Sourdough Bread Bowls and a whole lot more. I have done all of these and others in my blog.

My latest results.

Feeding My Starters
Just a brief note about feeding my starters. I used to feed them one for one. That is one cup flour to one cup water. I now feed them one cup flour to about 3/4 cup water at room temperature. Some folks weigh them one for one and that's fine too but for my method works just as well and takes less time. I use a large peanut butter jar because I like it better than a wide mouth Mason Jar. Large Peanut Butter jars are easier to dump the flour into without making a huge mess.

When I dump a batch of starter into my mixer I usually leave enough at the bottom of the jar that fills the slanted portion. It's about half a cup of starter not counting the starter stuck to the sides of the jar. I dump in the flour and the water and stir with a chopstick using the blunt end and scrape all around the jar from top to bottom and then loosely place the lid on the jar and no, the sourdough does not smell or taste like peanut butter. Be sure and clean it with hot soapy water. It is always good to have several of these on hand. That little blue line is where the starter is when fed before it rises nearly to the top of the jar.

Here are some images of the bread I have made.

I love the color and the structure sourdough provides.

Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls

A Whole Wheat Loaf made with Best Damn Alaskan. It was Extremely sour. 

Bread Bowls made with Wasatch Willy's Sourdough Starter

Wasatch Willy's Bread Bowls Baked on Travertine Tiles
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So as to simplify the updating process of my blog entries I have created a single ORDER page you can go to by clicking here. As the blog slowly grows in size (a few posts each month) it becomes an arduous labor updating each and every one of them so hopefully this will make the pages easier to peruse and more enjoyable. Thank you.

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