I have conquered my first real sourdough bread, and it was glorious. It was also time-consuming. This is either a two or three-day bread—I did it in two, but the process on the second day took a pretty long time. The first thing I had to do was build a “firm starter,” which is a combination of the barm that now lives happily in my refrigerator, along with some additional flour and water. This ferments for about six hours, then goes into the fridge overnight.
The next morning, I combined the starter with more flour, water, and salt. That’s something I love about this sourdough bread. It is only made up of three ingrediets, yet it has such a complex flavor! But more about that later. After mixing and kneading the dough, I let it rest for about 6 hours. The book said 3-4 hours, but mine hadn’t doubled in size at that point, so I let it go a little longer. These are the before and after shots.
Once the dough had risen enough, I divided it and formed it into two boules. They had to proof for another two hours (it is at this point that I could have put the loaves in the fridge overnight and baked them on day 3), and after that they went into the oven. The instructions said to use “hearth baking” techniques, which basically involve spraying water into the hot oven to make steam, but I had tried that multiple times and never really saw any noticeable results in the bread. This time around, I placed a disposable aluminum roasting pan on top of the loaves (as per another bread blogger’s notes), and that might have done the trick. I finally achieved a nice, crunchy crust! These are my beautiful loaves (the left one is more beautiful than the right).
Anyway, like I started to say before, while this bread only contains flour, water, and salt, it has a great sour flavor from my wild yeast starter. The crust was hard while the inside was nice and spongy. Michael and I ate most of the smaller loaf and are saving the bigger one for New Year’s Eve, when we plan to cut a hole in the top and fill it with some sort of delicious soup or chili. Should be tasty! I’d love to make this bread again right away, but unfortunately must move on to the next bread on the list: New York Deli Rye. Exciting!