22 January 2010

Sourdough, Take 2

Last week I shared with you my rather miserable sourdough failure. To sum up, after making a wonderful-looking starter, the bread itself turned out pretty dang bad.

But this week? Oh, this week, how I love you.

I made sourdough bread and it tastes and feels like sourdough bread! It works! Cool! I mean, seriously -- water + flour + salt = bread. Dude.

In the last post I listed the problems I had and how I planned to fix them. Here's a review and what I actually did:

Problem #1: I suck at kneading.

Solution: This week I tried mixing and kneading in my bread machine. It kind of has a setting for that. But by the time the kneading was supposed to be done, it wasn't really mixed. So I poured it all out into a bowl and kneaded it myself in the bowl. Not hard at all. Kneading it the bowl really helped, I think. It wasn't so unruly. And the way I mixed it this time, it was a lot more moist. I think my problem with the kneading last time is that it was too dry/thick.

[The blogger whose instructions I'm using suggested putting two smaller balls in one loaf pan for better rising. It worked great!]

Problem #2: The counter is a little too high for me, making kneading harder.

Solution: Again, I think the real problem was that the dough was too thick and the kneading surface (a roll out rolling mat) too unruly. I didn't have any trouble this time, despite still kneading on the counter.

Problem #3: I forgot to let the dough rise all together in the bowl, instead dividing it into pans right after mixing/kneading.

Solution: Don't do that! I let it rise in the bowl, covered with a damp cloth, on top of my fridge, for about 6 hours. At that point it had nearly doubled.

[Ahh... Much better.]

Problem #4: I didn't grease the pans.

Solution: I greased the pans with butter, then floured them with whole wheat flour. Perfect -- after the loaves had cooled a bit, they slid right out.

But all was not perfection, let me assure you. I had a slight hiccup -- I assumed the bread would continue to rise a bit as it baked. Um, no. It does not. So next time, I'll let the bread rise in the pans to the size I'd like the loaves to turn out. Then it will be even better!

Actually, to that end, I think I'll mix and knead the dough the night before, let it rise all night, and then put it in the loaf pans in the morning. This time it was 7:30 pm before the bread was completely done, and I'm planning to let it rise longer next time. So that'll be good.

There's quite a steep learning curve with sourdough, apparently. But that's okay! Soon, very soon, it will be perfect.

[Also, fussy babby + black onesie + breadmaking = awesome flour handprints on babby's front and back.]

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