Tuesday, December 23, 2008

first sourdough bread attempt

I deployed the sourdough starter for the second time today. Last night I followed the no-knead 1-2-3 method documented in this psychedelic YouTube video and baked this morning. I doubled the recipe, thinking that at least one loaf would be screwed up somehow.

It rose overnight in the oven with the light on. I was startled to see this morning that the temperature was close to 110 degrees! This produced a pretty thick skin on the dough. The target was closer to 80 degrees. It was in for about 14 hours. It did seem to have plenty of internal porosity.

The dough was very sticky and lacking much baking experience I really wrestled with getting it folded over and shaped decently. Dropping it into the dutch oven was a challenge, too.

Baked for 20 minutes covered and 18 uncovered. After baking it rested for maybe 20 minutes before I couldn't wait any longer and cut into it. The crust is just about perfect. The interior was disappointingly dense and a little underdone. Not terribly so, but it didn't have that glutinous stretchiness. The flavor was nice; it's definitely sourdough. The areas that skinned over during rising were visible inside.

The general method is to use 1 cup of starter, 1 cup of water, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 3 cups of flour. Mix and let rise 8 to 12 hours. Preheat oven to 500 for 20 minutes. Preheat dutch oven and lid for another 20 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes covered and 15 to 20 uncovered.

Things to try in future attempts:
  • Correct rising temperature. Maybe this contributed to the density.
  • Improve dough handling methods. The savagery of the man-dough tussle surely destroyed some bubbles. Lubricate the rising bowl. Don't try to divide the risen dough.
  • Bake a little longer to ensure interior is done.
  • A smaller Dutch oven might contribute to a higher, rounder loaf.

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