Friday, November 13, 2009
Is there anything better than the smell of fresh baked bread? Specifically, freshly baked sourdough bread? No. I think not. This is one of those smells that immediately transports me to my childhood. Actually, it transports me to Buzz's Crabs in Redding, California. I'd go there often with my Mother when she picked up fresh seafood. In addition to the many tanks of live crabs they had fresh sourdough bread, which they took out of the oven a couple times a day. Crusty on the outside, steaming hot and soft on the inside. We'd grab a loaf and tear off chunks of it to snack on the drive home. The smell was always too much to even consider resisting. It's a wonder there was ever any left over for dinner. I loved that ritual, and that's still how I prefer to eat my bread. Torn off in chunks from the freshly baked loaf.
Bread is always best right out of the oven, and I'm still not over the giddy feeling of actually baking it myself, without the aid of a bread maker. My dutch oven has been working overtime for this project. It was finally time to put my sourdough starter to use. It had been brewing for five days and it definitely smelled like sourdough, but the baking was the true test. While the entire process took several days to complete, the results were worth it, and if I keep feeding the sourdough starter, it will keep for weeks. More bread for everyone!
adapted from King Arthur's Flour recipe
makes 1 loaf
1/2 cup sourdough starter
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon sour salt (citric acid)
Combine the starter, water and half of the flour. Beat together until smooth. Cover and let rest at room temp for about 4 hours. Then refrigerate overnight for about 12 hours. When the dough is ready, combine the rest of the flour and the other ingredients and knead together to form a smooth dough. Put the dough in a lightly oiled dutch oven or loaf pan and allow the dough to rise once more until it's smoothed out in texture and risen a bit, about 2-4 hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425. Spray the loaves with lukewarm water and make two deep horizontal slashes with a serrated bread knife in the top of the loaf. Bake the bread 25-30 minutes until it's a deep golden brown. Remove and let cool on a rack.