Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sourdough Bread

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That, my friends, is a photo of the best piece of toast in all the land, made with freshly baked sourdough bread. I made it before we made our grand journey here to the land of beaches and retirees. But before I get back to that, I would like to quickly share something incredibly disturbing with you.

 Now, you may be under the impression that this flounder that Dad snagged out of the ocean today is just a regular, un-deformed, friendly, little fellow, but I'm afraid you are quite wrong.

Allow me to break it down for you...

They're born with their eyes on each side of them, looking symmetrical like the entire rest of creation, until they grow up and get deformed and their eye slowly slides over to the other side. Then they lay on the ocean floor, looking up with both eyes, waiting for some poor unsuspecting goldfish to come have a party on him, thinking he's a rock. And then he eats them.

And if that isn't freakish enough for you, just look at the flip side of this demon.

I know. Everything about this photo is disgusting. Except for the freshly tanned legs in the corner which I'm pleased to inform you are attached to my body.

Anywho, back to the bread. That's really why you're here isn't it?

I don't really expect you to make this bread. It takes a lot of patience. That's because you have to grow your own herd of wild yeast. But once you grow them, you can let them live on forever and ever.

Really, it's not that hard. All it takes to make a loaf of sourdough bread is flour, water, salt, and time. Lots of time. 

A few notes on making sourdough bread:

1. Use some light rye flour. It really gives it a good flavor.

2. Knead knead knead. You need to develop that gluten to strengthen the dough so it can harness those gases that the yeast creates, giving you nice big holes and chewy bread. I always use a mixer with a dough hook because I hate kneading by hand.

3. Sourdough needs a long time to rise. Don't rush it.

4. Grease your bread pans liberally with butter. At least if you don't want half of your bread stuck in the pan for all eternity and you do want beautiful buttery crust.

5. Score the top of your bread before baking. I can't believe I got so excited that I forgot to this time and the top split and was really ugly. What is the world coming to?

Sourdough Bread
Makes two loaves

2 cups sourdough starter
1 cups warm water
2 1/2 cups light rye flour
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons salt

Mix together the stater and water with your fingers until well combined. It should look kind of milky. Add the flours and mix just until combined. Let sit for 1/2 hour. Add the salt and knead for ten minutes in a mixer with a dough hook or by hand until smooth and elasticy (like it is in the second picture). Let rise for two hours in a warm moist place, covered with a wet cloth. Divide into two loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Let rise two more hours, covered. Preheat the oven to 425º. Score the top of the bread with a serrated knife and brush the top liberally with water*. Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the heat down to 350º and bake about 15 minutes more. When it's done it should pop pretty easily out of the pan unless you didn't grease it thoroughly enough.

*The scoring is so that the bread doesn't split on top. I forgot to do this, but it still turns out fine. Just a little more rustic looking. The water is so that the crust doesn't form before it rises to its full capacity in the oven.

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