Sourdough Sandwich Bread

May 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Good bread recipes are hard to come by, or at least for me they are. The bread recipes I try always seem to come out too heavy, or too dry & sometimes they don’t rise enough, or are lacking in any flavor besides that of flour. So, as you can imagine when I came across this bread recipe in Vegetarian Times & it actually was good, I was ecstatic!

This is not a recipe for the faint of heart because the magic happens over the course of a week- needless to say patients are essential. Good things happen over time & time is vital to the flavor of this loaf. Sourdough is centuries old & came about when early bread artisans realized that when moist flour was exposed to warm air it fermented. Leaving the starter out actually allows it to collect wild yeast from the air. Don’t act so surprised, you have probably seen these wild yeasts before. For example, if you’ve ever noticed white “blooms” on grapes, that is wild yeast.

These frisky little yeasts break down the complex carbohydrates in grains to produce sugar & alcohol. Think about the “malty” taste of some beer, that flavor comes from germinating the grains, aka the “hydrolysis” of a starch. Hydrolysis is the break down of the starch (we’re using wheat as our starch) which converts the starch to a sugar, maltose, & an alcohol.

Fermentation then produces bacteria; specifically, lactobacillus & acetobacillus. (These are the “friendly” bacteria you are paying top dollar for in the form of probitotics.) The bacteria work digest sugars in order to create lactic & acetic acid while preventing any “bad” bacteria to colonize. Lactic acid, is heavily responsible for the sour taste of sourdough bread.

The “sourdough” starter, also known as the sponge or the mother, should be thought of as a pet. It needs to be kept warm & should bet fed a couple of times a week if you choose to keep it past the first loaf you make. Here, we will cheat a wee bit & add a small amount of yeast to the starter initially, in order to speed up the process- but I’m experimenting with not adding it. I’ll keep you updated!

Sourdough Sandwich Loaf:

3 cups of all-purpose flour (bread flour works too), 1 1/4 tsp of dry yeast, 1 1/4 cups starter, 2 Tbsp light brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt

Sourdough starter:

1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup very warm water, about 110 degrees F & 1/4 tsp dry yeast.

Mix flour & yeast in a glass bowl. Add water and continue to mix, gently until smooth. Starter in a warm, away from any drafts. Feed the starter every 24 hours for three days. To feed: throw away half of the starter & mix in a 1/2 cup of flour & a 1/2 cup of water.

Bread:

Combine 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 tsp of yeast. Stir together starter, 3/4 cup of water & brown sugar in a bowl. Mix flour-yeat mixture into the starter-water mixture. Combine, cover & let sit over night. After letting it sit for at least 6 hours (or over night), stir in 1 cup of flour & salt. Then knead in 1/2 s cup of flour, 2 Tbsp at a time until a shaggy dough begins to form. Knead for 5 minutes. Roll into an 8 inch cylinder and cut 3 slashes, a half inch deep into the top of bread. Put the loaf in a baking pan to rise for an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Once doubled in size, bake the loaf for 40 minutes or until internal temperature in 198   degrees F.

Enjoy with a side salad of fresh spring greens & olive oil, topped with jam, or smothered in olive relish, cheese, or other tapenade. Alone is perfectly delicious too.

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