1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Bread

It’s a starter!

1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough starter, ready to raise a loaf

1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough starter, ready to raise a loaf

The 1847 Oregon Trail starter is growing well and smelling good, so this morning I fed it and got ready to bake. Okay, more accurately, I fed it and got ready to spend the day turning flour, water, salt, and starter into a loaf of bread.

I’ve made sourdough bread before, but I don’t love it, myself, and I find all the care and feeding of the starter tedious and annoying, and eventually I neglect the starter until there’s nothing left to do but toss is on the compost. I suspect that if I keep the starter in the fridge and have a schedule for feeding it and baking with it, that won’t happen again. Today, because I’m sort of starting from scratch, I made the most basic dough from Jeff Hamelman’s book Bread. His formula scales down to two loaves, and I halved that.

Vermont Sourdough
(amounts are half given for the “home” version)
5.9 oz of sourdough starter
12 oz bread flour
1.6 oz whole rye flour
7.4 oz water
½ T salt (I used 1 T Diamond Crystal kosher salt)

Fit the stand mixer with the dough hook. Put everything but the salt in the stand mixer and mix on the first speed for a minute or two, just until the dough comes together. It should be shaggy and dry.

Shaggy sourdough

Shaggy sourdough

Cover the bowl and leave the dough to autolyse for 20 to 60 minutes; I gave it about 45 minutes. Sprinkle the salt over the dough
Salted autolysed shaggy sourdough

Salted autolysed shaggy sourdough

and mix the dough on the second speed for 4 or 5 minutes, until you get a good gluten window. (You’ll have to take my word for it that I got a good gluten window; I couldn’t figure out how to hold the camera in one hand and show the gluten window with the other.) Form the dough into a ball and let it ferment for 2½ hours, folding twice (after about 50 minutes and again after about another 50 minutes). My dough felt like Silly Putty at the first fold, but it felt a lot more like bread dough at the second fold. After the bulk ferment, I formed the dough into a ball and left it to rise in a 10-inch springform pan. I use a round pan to proof round loaves because I find they have a tendency to spread, and I’m trying to control that a little. After the 2½-hour proof, the dough had spread just about out to the limits of the pan:
Risen boule of 1847 sourdough

Risen boule of 1847 sourdough

While I waited for the oven to preheat, I looked for something interesting to do with the slashing, but I couldn’t find anything other than the usual crosses, hash marks (“octothorps,” says Dr. Science), or circles, so I defaulted to the big X on top:
Boule with boring but functional slashes

Boule with boring but functional slashes

I gave it 35 minutes at 375℉. Sourdough bread is done at an internal temperature of 200℉ to 205℉, which I’ve exceeded a little:
Definitely done at 207.5℉

Definitely done at 207.5℉

You can see how the sides of the bread are straight because the spread was checked by the sides of the pan:
1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Bread

1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Bread

Dr. Science wonders what we’re going to eat for bread tomorrow. I’m thinking it’ll be whole wheat sandwich bread, which is quick and easy.

Jeffrey Hamelman, Vermont Sourdough. In Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2004, p 153.


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Filed under bread, sourdough

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