Last August I started to work my way through Beth Hensperger's book "The Bread Lovers Bread Machine Cookbook". I was managing a new type of bread daily. I planned to bake my way right through the book, until I hit the Sourdough Section. I got lost in Sourdough for going on 3 MONTHS. Who knew there was so much to learn about one form of bread baking. The Sourdough farm takes a week to get going, and then requires weekly maintenance.
Sourdough's have taught me a thing two about life too, and I recently wrote about that. sourdoughs take patients, and a certain amount of skill, I.e. when baking in a bread machine, the art of Sourdoughs require management, even in a Bread Machine. 5 minutes into the cycle one needs to check that all the flour is incorporated. More flour needs to be added if the dough is too sticky, a couple of tablespoons of water if the dough is too firm.
Truly the most important thing that one needs to learn while making sourdough is patients. 8 hours of proofing time is REALLY THE MINIMUM, a sponge likes to sit at least 12 hours, but 24 is better.
Over the last couple of months I have tried to make my self at home in Chico. I have joined clubs, found a new group to hike with and have finally gotten into a "routine". I am coming to terms with the nightmares, and am working with a group that teaches techniques to cope, and turn nightmares into dreams. Who knew that in the good times, and this is a good time, our unconscious would find ways to "mess with us"!
Moving has to be one of the most stressful events in one's life, and moving from a big city to a small town is quite a system shock. I still feel that the move was the best decision I have ever made, and spending a couple of months perfecting sourdough has been a great investment. Who knew that bread could be a conversation starter. Who knew just Sourdough starters could entertain for hours. I bring a fresh warm loaf of bread to my groups, like the Writer's Circle I joined. And it is a great opener, everyone enjoys it, and it seems everyone has a story about someone they knew that also enjoyed baking bread,a grandparent, a favorite aunt, it reminds people of a slower, easier time, and there is no way to describe the looks on people's face when they drop by and smell the fresh baked bread baking. Well these are my slowier easier times. Who knew 6 months ago I ould tackle bread recipes with over 3 hours just is in RISING time.
Today I decided to put into use all I have learned about perfect sourdough, and put together my own CRUSTY loaf bread, and made use of the Custom setting, and the Modify button to truly perfect the loaf!
In Suzanne Rosenblum's writings, she recommends it is best to make a new starter for each batch of bread that one is to make. She believes it is not possible ever to get that really sour flavor of a new starter. Let's face it though a good starter takes 2 to 5 days to develop, and is just not a good invest in Time Management to make a new starter every time. So that leaves us with refrigerated starter, which then requires "PROOFING" before us, which means you take a cup of Starter, add 1/3 a cup of Flour and a 1/3 cup of water, mix well and then cover with cheese cloth and let it sit for AT LEAST 8 hours.
Here's Suzanne Rosenblum's favorite starter, which she writes about often. I have made this a dozen times now, and it does produce a very pleasing sourdough.
THE STARTER RECIPE
One 8-once container sour cream, NOT imitation, low fat or non-fat!)
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar WITH mother
1/8 teaspoon SAF yeast
1 cup unbleached all-purpose or bread flour.
Whisk sour cream until smooth. Add water, vinegar and sprinkle with yeast. Add the flour. first add 3/4th a cup, and then add flour as needed to bring the starter to the consistency of pancake batter. Transfer to a plastic container or crock. Cover with a few pieces of cheese cloth and secure with rubber band, then cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let it stand at room temp. for 24 hours. It will start to bubble, which is good. The smell will start to sour after a couple of days. The longer it sits the more sour it will become. If you hae not used it within 5 days you will need to throw it into the Fridge, after feeding it with 2/3 cup flour, and 2/3 cups purified water.
This yields 2 cups starter, which you will use in the Bread Recipe.
I am going to call this a "HYbred" recipe, which combines ll the wonderful things I have learned in making sourdough to yield an extra sour loaf, with a crumb that my roommate LOVES. This bread is a French Bread style loaf. You will need to customize the cycle though. Kneed one should be 20 minutes, kneed2 20 minutes, the first rise should be programmed for 40 minutes, the second rise should be 1 hour and 50 minutes. The long second rise gives the loaf its volume. The loaf will not "crown" but instead will have a flat top, which is normal for this loaf. This bread also bakes for 60 minutes, not the usual 50. After you have modified the settings.
For a 1.5 lb loaf. The Sponge:
2 cups Starter
1/2 teaspoon active dry or SAF yeast
1/2 cup Unbleached All Purpose Flour.
1/2 cup lukewarm starter.
Run the bread machine on the Dough/Pasta, which should run for 10-14 minutes. After the cycle runs, unplug the machine and let the sponge it and ferment for 8 to 24 hours. The longer the sponge sits the more flavor will be developed. After 8 hours, add the following:
1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
1 teaspoon SAF or Active yeast
1 teaspoon Sugar
2 cups Unbleached All-purpose or Bread Machine yeast.
Program Modify the machine as stated above. Add the ingredients above right on top of the sponge. Press the start, and set a kitchen timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes check the dough ball, if it is sticking to the sides of the bread machine add more flour 2 tablespoons at a time. If it is too dry and just spinning, add more water 2 tablespoons at a time.
Remember the bread won't crown, but will be flat across the top.