Working with Sourdough
Sourdough starter begins with a combination of flour and liquid. The proportion and type of flour and liquid can vary dramatically, from a stiff starter made entirely with flour and water to a liquid batter of milk and cornmeal and everything in between. Friendly bacteria present in our natural environment and the wild yeast living in flour work with one another when flour is mixed with warm water. The result: a sourdough starter. These tiny living creatures generate byproducts that cause bread to rise and give it a complex, rich flavor. Once you’ve created your starter, it needs regular feeding. Feeding once a week is ideal, but your starter can also survive much longer stretches between feedings. I store my starter in a crock in the refrigerator and it is available whenever I need a starter for a recipe.
Read more about sourdough on King Arthur’s site.
Sourdough Cracked Wheat Rolls
Yield: 8 rolls
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 package (2¼ teaspoons) instant yeast
- 1/3 cup cracked wheat
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup sourdough starter
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 cup of the flour with the yeast, cracked wheat, salt and sugar. Stir.
Combine the water and the oil. Add the water mixture and the sourdough starter to the dry ingredients. Beat for 4 minutes on medium speed. Gradually add the remaining flour, about ½ cup at a time. Switch to the dough hook and knead for 5-7 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to grease the top. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours.
Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently press or “punch” down to remove air bubbles. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough into a 4×6-inch rectangle; then, starting with the longer side, roll up each rectangle tightly, pinching the edges and ends to seal.
Place shaped rolls onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen toweland let rise until doubled again, about 1 more hour. Near the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. With a sharp knife, make a lengthwise slash down the center of each roll and brush or lightly spray with cold water. Bake for 20-25 minutes until browned. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a cooling rack.
Baking in a Cloche Pan
If you like crusty bread – this method is for you. The La Cloche natural clay stoneware baking dish and domed lid will simulate a hearth oven in your kitchen. The moist dough within the cloche creates the steam needed to produce a delicious bread with a crisp, golden crust and light crumb. You will not have to spritz your bread or pour water in a hot pan in the oven to get the crust you are after.
Pumpernickel Wheat Bread
Makes 1 large round loaf
- 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup pumpernickel flour
- 2 tablespoons vital wheat gluten
- 1/2 teaspoon Deli Rye Flavor (purchased from King Arthur or other bread baking supply stores)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 cups lukewarm water
Combine all of the ingredients and mix together in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Switch to the dough hook and knead until the dough is elastic and slightly sticky.
Let the dough rise in a lightly greased, covered bowl for 1 to 2 hours; it should become puffy.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface. Gently deflate it and shape into a ball.
Place the shaped loaf into a round stoneware baker (e.g., La Cloche), and cover with the lid.
Let the loaf rise for 60 to 90 minutes until it’s almost doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Slash the loaf diagonally in several places.
Bake the loaf for 35 minutes, remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. When done, the bread will be crusty and a digital thermometer inserted into the center should read 190°F to 200°F.
Remove the bread from the oven and transfer it to a rack to cool completely.
Making Sandwich Bread for Everyday
Great sandwich bread should be tough enough to hold up to a moist filling, but pliable enough to bite through easily. It should have some crunch on the outside, but be soft in the middle, so that it is easy to chew. Sandwich bread, when fresh, adds flavor and just a tinge of sweetness to any filling.
Oatmeal Honey Sandwich Bread
Makes 1 loaf
- 3 cups unbleached bread flour
- 1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned oats)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a dough that holds together.
Switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for 5 minutes or until it is smooth. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow it to rest for 1 hour. It will become quite puffy, though it may not double in bulk.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface and shape it into a log. Place the log in a lightly greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it crests 1″ to 2″ over the top rim of the pan.
Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 10 minutes of baking.