It’s a starter!
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.
(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.
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
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:
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:
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:
You can see how the sides of the bread are straight because the spread was checked by the sides of the pan:
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.