February 24, 2014

Sourdough Success

If you know me in person, then you might better understand the passion behind this post and bread-making. I love making bread. I always make bread! I also love making cinnamon buns, burger buns, hotdog buns, french baguettes... It would really be very sad for me if I was told I had to go without bread.

I had a whole-wheat bread recipe down to an exact science in Canada, and it worked beautifully every time. No white flour needed. This was amazing! If you have any experience in bread making, than you know the challenge in obtaining a nice light, fluffy, and large 100% whole wheat loaf of bread.

Since moving to Madagascar, my no-fail whole wheat recipe has failed me repeatedly. I don't know if it is altitude.. quality of ingredients, climate? Kind of bizarre, since bread rises remarkably well in warm humid climates, which we have here in the city. But all of my attempts at my whole wheat recipe have mostly ended up with heavy bricks, barely resembling light and fluffy bread I would want to serve my family, nevermind consume myself!

Thus my quest to find a more healthful option than a plain basic white loaf. I figured, if my whole wheat recipe isn't working, the next best thing is sourdough. Actually, some websites claim that sourdough is even superior to whole wheat bread because of the healthy bacteria in the bread and the lengthy time for making--breaking down phytic acids etc. This bread is claimed easier to digest, and better for intestinal health.

I had tried to grow a starter from scratch in Canada without success. So I was hesitant to grow one here. But after much much much reading others' experiences online, I felt it was worth another go.

My first attempt at growing a starter DID fail - and turned into a yucky smelly gluey thing...


My second attempt ended up with these beautiful loaves!

Basic Sourdough (makes 2 bowl loaves, 8" diameter)
2 Cup Starter
3  1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
1/2 to 3/4 Cups warm water
3/4 Tablespoon Salt

Combine ingredients, adding water gradually, to make a very elastic dough. You will knead the dough by hand for at least 15 minutes, or until it passes the "window-pane" test. This is when you can stretch the dough and see light passing through without it breaking. I do this in my KitchenAid mixer to avoid fatigue. :) But you can do the kneading in two separate sessions if you want.

Shape into 2 round balls, and place each in a deep round baking pan, I use a round cake pan, lined with parchment. Cover and rise in a warm place until doubled in size. I rise mine overnight, or for 10 hours at least. The longer it's left to rise the more the sourness flavour is developed and better rising.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400F degrees for 30-60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer when inserted in the loaf registers above 190C. Cool for at least 20 minutes on a rack before slicing. This bread is much easier to slice once completely cooled.

Check back for pictures of my starter and a little more detail of the process.

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