May 18, 2008

sourdough bread trials

It all began with this:

I was thinking it must be an interesting project to do when I clicked and ordered some sourdough starter online from the Baker's Catalogue. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and that it takes time and effort to maintain, just like a "pet" as they say. Not to mention the amount of flour needed not just for the initial procedure but for the feedings. But I was still willing to try it. Feeding the starter with flour and water was the part I wish I can do away with. I've always been a fan of sourdough bread. The chewy texture and tart flavor just goes so well with butter and jam.

1. The first loaf I made wasn't as flavorful compared to those that followed. Either I didn't allow the dough to rest longer during the second rising or the flavor just hasn't developed yet. I also brushed it with beaten egg before I baked it which resulted in an evenly browned top.
2. The second loaf has a much better sourdough flavor. I let it sit overnight in the fridge for a longer rising time and the flavor became more intense. I didn't brush it with beaten eggs so it looked dry and pale. It was crusty and baked just right.
3. Based on some tips I got from a video I watched on sourdough bread making, I shaped this third one into a longer loaf and followed the instructions to spritz the loaf with water while baking every ten minutes, but I forgot to put a steaming pan of water under it. The loaf came out with a toasted crust with a nice crumb texture as well.

4. I tried to make these Sourdough English muffins next. This also went pretty well although the process was a bit time consuming and I don't think there's much difference in taste from the store bought ones.
5. This no knead whole wheat bread method was my next attempt. I got some tips from another website which substituted sourdough starter instead of yeast in the recipe. I baked this bread in an insulated casserole dish which I covered with a tent of aluminum foil, since I don't have a cast iron Dutch oven yet, but I think I undercooked the bread a little bit. The crust and the bottom of the loaf were not as toasted as I wanted it to be and the sides were also still on the soft side. Baking in the insulated dish wasn't such a good idea.
6. The addition of sourdough starter aside from the yeast, also improved the flavor of this basic white bread. I noticed that the flavor of the rolls intensified the next few days also. I made this using the original recipe and adjusted it with the starter. The bread seemed to have gained some more height also.

7. Ciabatta is one of my favorite artisan breads. I tried to duplicate the texture of it in this attempt. The dough was very wet and difficult to handle so I just let it bake as is. It spread out quite a bit on the pan. This time I didn't forget to put a steaming pan of water on the rack underneath, and continually spritz the bread with water while baking. I still didn't get much holes in the baked loaf but the flavor and crust came out perfectly toasted.
The overnight proofing of the sponge, many hours of letting the dough rise slowly, even resorting to refrigeration to control the rising, are all new bread making techniques I've learned so far. My attempt wasn't too bad but I know there's a whole new dimension to this kind of bread making and I have a lot more to learn.

No comments:

Post a Comment