The Moveable Feast Food Blog

The Moveable Feast is a Personal Chef Service that serves the Hampton Roads area of Southern Virginia. This blog is an extension of my web site and will go into more details about food and any food service industries. Any pictures and or recipes that are published here are all the property of The Moveable Feast unless otherwise noted.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sourdough Bread
I confess. I am a horrible baker. I worked at a bakery for two years full-time and all I got, was fatter. I was a good student of those who are far more experienced than myself. Cripe, at that point everyone was better than me, but for some reason I just couldn't help myself. I insisted that I be taught how to do the bread that the bakery sold everyday. I had to learn how to do this thing. I was smitten. I was totally blown away by how you could mix three very simple ingredients and make something from that. Who on earth ever discovered flour, water and yeast could make the stongest person's knees buckle with happiness? Really who cares as long as I can eat the stuff.

Since my favorite time of the year is the fall and I have been going nuts about Sourdough I have to keep experimenting. This one is for the other bread obsessed. I am still using Betsy Oppenneer's book, The Bread Book.

Crusty Sourdough Bread
Makes 2 loaves

1/2 cup sourdough starter
1 cup warm water (105F-115F)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For the Dough
1 1/2 cups warm water (105F-115F)
2 teaspoons salt
5-6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

At least 12 hours in advance, combine the starter, water and flour in a large glass or pottery bowl. The sponge will have the consistency of a cake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let ripen at room temperature for at least 12 hours but no longer than 36 hours.

When ready to make the bread, add the 1 1/2 cups water, salt and 3 cups of the flour to the sponge. Beat vigorously with a dough whisk or heavy-handled spoon for 2 minutes.

Gradually add more of the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the side of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.

Knead for 8-10 minutes, add more flour, a little at a time as necessary, until you have a smooth, elastic dough and blisters begin to develop on the surface.

Put the dough into an oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly woven kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a ball, cover with a towel, and let rest for 15 minutes.

Shape each piece of dough into a ball again. Flatter the centers slightly and place them well apart on a well-greased baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let rise for about 1 1/ hours, or until almost doubled in size.

About 15 minutes before the end of the rising, preheat the oven to 400F.

Put a shallow pan on the bottom shelf of the oven.

Brush the loaves with cold water.

Put 1 cup of ice cubes in the hot pan on the bottom shelf of the oven. Immediately put the bread on the shelf above and bake for 25-30 minutes, or untill the loaves are lightly browned and sound hollow when tapped or the internal temperature reaches 190F.

Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.

Notes: I asked a local baker why my sourdough looked different than his. He said that he cuts slashes in the top for the steam to escape and dusts the top with flour. I had forgotten about those two things. So my loaf looks very plain. It was totally crusty. The ice cube trick creates steam, which helps the bread to be crusty. Commercial ovens have a steam cycle in them that does that same thing.

I thought the bread didn't taste "sour" enough for me, but everyone else said it did. My tastebuds must have been having an off day. I would make this again, and again, but with the slashes and flour.


At 4:19 PM, Blogger michelle said...

That ice cube trick is awesome! I had no idea that steam was what made it crusty - delish! I can't wait to see what your slashed bread turns out looking like. Plain or no, I'm sure it tasted incredible...a perfect vessel for butter!

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Tina T-P said...

What a nice post - and such a good description of how the dough should look during the different parts of the process -

I'll be spending most of tomorrow baking pumpkins & processing them for the freezer - I use 1 qt. freezer bags and put 2 cups in each bag then flatten them out - really freezes nice and fits in the freezer well that way too - we need at least 30 packages for the pie bakers in our church who will be making pumpkin pies for the community Thanksgiving food baskets & hopefully will have about 20 pkgs left for our freezer - John loves pumpkin pie best of all :-)

At 10:20 AM, Blogger vlb5757 said...

Michelle-I am going to wait a while before making more bread. I fell down the stairs last night and am a bit bruised. So the kneading arm is out until it heals. I am hoping that the slashing will do the trick.

Tina-If I could have posted all the pictures from the whole process I would have. It was fun seeing the how thing from A-Z. I have never been a scratch baker from home so this is all truly news to me. Commercial baking of bread is on a more grand scale and it's kneaded in an 80 qt bowl. Less elbow grease!

The pumpkin baking sounds like fun. I love doing things like that to save for the rest of the winter. I think my youngest son's favorite pie is pumpkin. Hubby loves Pecan and I love fruit pies, so of course I have to make all of them for the holidays. I am exhaused when Jan comes. Besure and show your process!

At 1:09 PM, Blogger michelle said...

Oh NO! I hope you're okay! That sucks!!! I hope the recovery is swift and smooth - I'm thinking of you...

At 5:28 PM, Blogger vlb5757 said...

Michelle, I am a bit bruised but I am okay. I really feel my age after doing something like that. I wasn't paying attention carrying a laundry basket down the stairs. Just really dumb! I will bake bread later. I have one more sourdough dough recipe to post, but can't because on top of falling head first down the stairs, my desktop locked me out with my own password. Go figure. I was just trying to log on and it wouldn't let me. This week has got to end on a happier note!!!

At 3:22 PM, Blogger michelle said...

Well, here's a big Oregon hug to make Thursday evening and Friday (and beyond) much better for you!


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