Monday, April 12, 2010

More bread talk

This was the first sourdough I made with my barm. I'm hoping as it ages it gets more leavening oomph, because without any yeast, this loaf is what I got. It had great sourdough flavor, but barely rose at all. I could see the folds inside from where I shaped it.

So when I make sourdough at the restaurant, I use a bit of yeast, because I don't want to be stuck with 20 pounds of lazy dough on my hands (or the sad dough lumps which would serve as the embarrassing evidence on the rack after baking.) However, the yeast makes the flavor less potent. The first batch I made only had a sourdough after taste. The second I used 1/3 wheat flour and it had a more sour flavor. It was pretty good, actually.

Peter Reinhart's Sourdough goes something like this...

A starter made with 2/3 cup barm, 1 cup bread flour and 1/8-1/4 cup water. You let it stand until doubled in size, about 4 hours, and then stick it in the fridge over night.

The next day, cut up the starter and let it warm for an hour at room temperature. Mix it with 4.5 cups bread flour, 2 t salt, and 1.5-.75 lukewarm water. And if you're me lately, 1.5 t instant yeast. Knead for 10-15 minutes, or use the dough hook in your mixer for 4 minutes, let rest for 5, then mix for 4.

If you add the yeast, you only have to cover the dough in an oiled bowl and let it rise for and hour and a half, and then shape it into boules and proof (rise again) for an hour or so.

If there is no yeast, Peter recommends letting the dough rise for 3-4 hours, shaping, then proofing for 2-3 hours. And if you're me, your dough probably won't rise that much any way. Now that my barm is 3 or so weeks old, I may try the no yeast method again.

Also, sorry to discourage you home bread bakers, but the bread baking in the commercial oven at the restaurant always turns out better than my home bread. The oven at the restaurant gets hotter and has a steaming mechanism that works way better than spritzing the walls of you oven with water.

Steaming, by the way, helps with the development of the crust. It prevents it from getting too hard too fast (which would inhibit the initial rising of the bread).

I'm continuing to feed my starter, and I'm hoping to become more familiar with this mysteriously simple/complicated bread.

I think the crust on these fail loaves was very beautiful, kind of like a painting.

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