Saturday, March 21, 2009

sourdough bread 8

I set out to make a sourdough that was an amalgam of the recent almost no-knead bread and the 1-2-3 no-knead sourdough recipe, but with the idea that I'd knead it however long I felt like. That would mean a less wet dough, but with the beer and vinegar flavoring assistance and starter instead of dry yeast.

  • 15 ounces (3 cups) bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 fluid ounces Budweiser lager
  • 3 fluid ounces whey
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup sourdough starter (pretty thick this time)
This produced a much drier dough than the last one. It came together in just a few seconds of mixing. I covered the bowl with plastic at 17:00 and left to rise.

At 8:00 I kneaded for a few minutes. It was very resilient and smooth, always wanting to return to the shape of a ball. It rose for another two hours, I kneaded again, and let it rise for another hour and a half. It was very easy to work with. And I really like this technique of letting it rise on a sheet of parchment paper draped over a skillet.

Into the 500 degree covered dutch oven it went for 30 minutes at 425, then another 25 uncovered, reaching an internal temperature of 206.

I think this is the best-shaped loaf I've made: fairly round and nicely domed. It's nearly hemispherical.

The dutch oven was on the lowest rack this time. Last time it was on the second lowest. The bottom crust of this bread is quite a bit darker and thicker; I like it less this way.

The crust and crumb are really nice. I am a little underwhelmed by the flavor, though. It's definitely good, especially with butter and a bit of upper crust, but I expected it to be more assertive. I am certain that I can taste the Budweiser! The interior alone is soft, resilient, and chewy; the sweetness of the beer comes through, along with surprisingly faint tartness. With the crust included the flavor is dominated by the toasty and yeasty notes and has a good mouth feel. But the bottom crust is definitely too done, tasting burnt, and thick enough that it's hard to cut.

Good stuff:
  • structurally, very nice
  • great tasting crust
  • dough easy to handle
Stuff to work on:
  • problematic bottom crust; try the higher rack again
  • need more flavor in the crumb
2009-03-22 Update: The crumb near the center of the loaf seems denser than what I encountered in the first few slices. I think something needs to be done to get a better rise. Perhaps I rushed it.

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