When it comes to certain things I am a bit obsessive. I once spent an entire winter trying to make homemade marshmallows. I saw Ina do it one afternoon and it looked really simple and really cool. So again I asked the age old question “How hard could it be?” Well by now I am sure you know the answer to that one. It was a bit more difficult than it looked but after multiple failures I succeeded. But then it was winter time and I didn’t have anything better to do. You all have not lived until you have had a cup of hot chocolate with a homemade peppermint flavored marshmallow floating on top. It was totally worth the effort and I probably will never do it again either. I will live with the fond memories of how fabulous it was! But I digress…
After the shame of the Great Sourdough Disaster of 09 I was determined to prevail and emerge from my kitchen the victor.
So although it might be possible to create a completely wonderful sourdough starter ala natural without the help of an additional yeast boost, I found that method to be unsuccessful as well as unhealthy for the state of my mental well being.
I forged ahead into batch number 4 ( I think!!!) and found that after I added a packet of yeast to the starter I was able to achieve the desired results. My sponge was wonderful frothy, bubbly and it had that wonderful pleasant sour yeasty aroma. As I placed my dough out onto my board it even felt different. There was a lightness to the dough with the familiar soft springy feel to it. It felt like a bread dough should feel.
There is not much difference here other than the dough had much more elasticity and it had a much softer feel to it! It was all starting to come back to me…
Into the bowl for the first proofing. I placed the bowl on top of the oven and then went outside to help my husband work in the yard.
Y’all it not only double in size, it TRIPLED in size.
So much so that it rose up over the sides of the bowl and spilled out on to the top of my oven.
Bla bla bla, more kneading, more forming into loaves, placing in bread pans, bla bla bla bla, set aside for the second proofing, bla, bla, bla.
About and hour later the bread has risen up and formed into wonderful loaves of bread that actually look like loaves of bread.
Into the oven @ 350 for about 30 to 40 minutes.
Out of the oven and they look GREAT!
I am redeemed!
I am baker hear me roar!
But wait…no forklift or crane was necessary to remove it from the oven and I was not in need of the husbands chainsaw either.
It sliced up perfectly and had the wonderful soft chewy texture a sourdough bread should have.
But here is the proof. This was all that was left after dinner on Saturday night.
Here is the recipe for the starter, however I would not REPEAT NOT NOT NOT recommend that you use the recipe he includes for the bread as he dose not add any additional yeast.
So here is the recipe that I use:
San Francisco Style Sourdough Bread
1 envelope yeast
3/4 cups warm water
2 cups proofed sponge or starter (see link above for instruction on this)
2 teaspoon salt or 1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 1/2 to 3 cups bread flour
You may also include a couple tablespoons olive oil if you like but it’s totally is up to you. It will not affect your bread if you leave it out!
In small bowl dissolve yeast in the 3/4 cup warm water and let it sit a few minutes until dissolved and active. You will see a froth start to develop. If it does not develop and there are no bubbles then your yeast is old and not any good. Check your expiration date on the yeast.
Pour the starter in the bowl of your stand mixer or large bowl and add the dissolved yeast and olive oil and salt.
Add the flour in small increments, I use my 1/2 cup measure. When the dough is the desired consistency it will start to pull away from the sides of the bowl and form a large ball on the paddle the mixer. If you have a bread hook once your dough has formed you may switch over to the hook to kneed the dough.
Note: You may need to adjust the amount of flour. It might not need all 3 cups or you might need to add more it just depends on the flour.
When the dough is formed pour out onto floured surface and dust the top of the dough ball with flour as well. Kneed a few times to form into smooth ball. The dough should be soft and elastic but not sticky.
Place in a bowl with a light coating of olive oil or vegetable oil and set in a warm place until doubled in size. This should take at least an hour but it could take as long as two or more.
When it has double in size take you fist and punch down the dough and then turn it out again on to a floured surface and dust the top of the dough with additional flour.Kneed a few more times until dough is smooth and soft to the touch.
With a sharp knife cut the dough into equal parts and form into loaves.
You can also form into small rolls or small round loaves it’s your choice. If you are forming into round loaves you can take a sharp knife and make some decorative cuts across the top. It is hard to do this when you are using traditional bread pans.
Form into loaves and place in greased loaf pans an set aside in a warm place until doubled in size and the tops form a nice round top.
Transfer to hot oven about 35o degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes.
For a really golden brown top you can brush with and egg wash or give your loaves a light brush with some olive oil before going into the oven. But do this very gently you do not want to disturb the risen dough and cause them to fall.
Let bread cool on wire rack or cutting board for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
Then slice it up, slather with butter or in our case low fat heart healthy margarine with flax oil in it that we pretend is as good as butter and your in fresh bread heaven.
Well my next batch of proofed sponge is sitting on the kitchen counter as I type up this post. I am so thankful that my bread disaster is behind me and I can move on to more pressing matters such as the life and death decisions of menu planning for thanksgiving.
Apple or Pumpkin, Turkey or Ham, Sweet Potato or Mashed…at least I know the bread will be OK!