Today I ate the best sourdough I’ve ever had, and it came out of my own oven, from sourdough I cultivated from outside my back porch! It’s a REAL San Francisco Sourdough!
Crusty (but not too crusty!) crust, moist, supple interior, a perfect “tear it in your mouth” crumb, and the sourdough flavor was… indescribable! Dare I say that it tastes more “healthful” than other breads I’ve made and had!
Make a wet dough with flour, water, salt, and sourdough starter. Let it rise 14 hours-ish, cook hot (475… 500) for 50 minutes with a pan of hot water in the oven.
Make sourdough starter, I started with this recipe from King Arthur Flour. What I actually did was: in a mason jar, mix about 3 parts flour, 2 parts water and stir it til it’s all wet. Leave it on the back porch for a couple hours to catch yeasties. Cover it and let it sit in a consistent temperatured, warm part of the house (my kitchen counter). Each day, pour off 1/2 the mixture and add more flour & water. Do this every day for 7 days. Done!
To make the bread:
Put in a big bowl 3 cups water, 1 1/2 cups water, a big o’ gloop of sourdough starter (maybe 1/2 a cup?). Mix with a stick until it’s a big gloopy mess (about 30 seconds?) Cover and let sit for an hour. Pour in 1 1/2 tbsp salt and mix with the stick for 30 seconds. Cover and let sit overnight (I left it from 5pm to 10am.
Preheat oven to 500 (all the better to brown your crust, my dear!). Using sprinklings of flour to keep things from being too gloopy and sticky, shape the dough into… I don’t know… a shape!
Put a pan of hot water in the oven (I’m still not convinced it helps but hey). Cook at 500 for 20 minutes, 425 for 30 minutes, oven off for 20 minutes (I could have left it in for another few minutes but it was coming on lunchtime!)
One remarkable thing is that after eating it, I don’t feel that slightly addiction-y feeling of NEEDing another slice of it. I’m guessing the yeast have done their job so well that I’m eating more yeast and less of all the other stuff that’s in wheat.
Yesterday afternoon I was in the middle of trying to make this bread and I became SOOOO frustrated! I had looked up all kinds of recipes for sourdough… trying to get the percentages of ingredients right, the time and temperature, the kneeding schedule. And I was literally at my wits end! I gave up. All I knew was that some people do a long rise (Hi Jen! Sarah!) and all these recipes had these elaborate strategies for making perfect bread. (try googling “sourdough bread percentages”, or “best sourdough bread”). I had watched a video the other night from Pro Home Cooks called 15 Mistakes Most Beginner Sourdough Bakers Make and while I was watching it, I was thinking how beautiful and rewarding artisanal bread was. The moment I turned off the video and thought about applying the hundred or so bread-making tips he offered, I knew in my heart that I could never make good bread at home. Never. I knew that it was important, nay, essential that I forget everything he said. I knew I had to just bake. And it worked!
It was wonderful hearing Megan and Abigail chime in with oo’s and ah’s as they ate it!
I was really into bread a few years ago. So much so that I taught bread making classes all over! It was a blast! I stick by my original philosophy of making bread easily (but wow, it’s easy to forget when you watch enough Youtube videos of people making bread!)
Here is the cheat-sheet I made for my class. It’s a terrific primer on bread making: Real Bread in 10 Minutes Cheat Sheet