The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough

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JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Now, I'll grant you, whole wheat soybean bread garnished with sunflower seeds sounds like a parody of something you might find in The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. And, in fact, you won't find it there.

Well, not with the sunflower seeds, anyway. The original recipe calls for sesame oil and sesame seeds. My daughter's preschool doesn't allow peanuts, sesame or tree nuts (one of her friends there is deathly allergic), so I had to go with sunflower seeds. Yes, it sounds like 70's health-food hell, but truly -- I kid you not -- this sandwich bread is delicious. The flavor is very warm and it keeps for a long, long time.

I love The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book. Her book taught me how to make light whole-wheat bread; without it, I'd still be churning out high-fiber doorstops. But that doesn't mean I don't think her recipes can't be improved. She's a bit light with the salt (in grams, at least -- the volumetric measurements are on the money), for instance, so I generally add a tad more to bring it up to the 1.8 to 2 percent range, and I almost always add a pre-ferement of some sort.

One other thing to remember -- if you're using cups, Laurel has a very heavy hand. Forget fluffing up the flour and spooning it in the cup. Dig deep and let it settle.

Here's how I made this bread:


The Night Before


Take 3/4 cup or 150 g raw soybeans (roughly 2 cups cooked) and cook them overnight in a slow cooker in plenty of water. If you're brave, let them simmer in a big pot with lots of water overnight -- I'm not that brave. In the morning, mash up the soybeans well.

Mix 2.5 cups or 375 g whole wheat flour with a pinch of instant yeast and 1.25 cups or 280 g water. Cover and let it ferment for 10-14 hours. By morning it should be full of bubbles.

The Next Day

  • 2.5 cups or 375 g whole wheat flour
  • 2.5 tsp or 17 g salt
  • 1.5 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 Tbs honey
  • 1.25 cups or 280 g water
  • 1/4 cup of sesame or other oil (I used canola)
  • 2 Tbs lightly toasted sesame seeds (I used raw sunflower seeds)


    Break up the pre-ferment into a dozen pieces and mix it with all the other ingredients except for the seeds and the soybeans. Knead the dough until you can stretch a piece of it into a thin translucent sheet without tearing. This should take anywhere from 10-20 minutes, or 300 to 600 strokes. Once the dough is nearly fully kneaded, flatten the dough and spread half of the soy pulp on top. Fold the dough up, flatten again, and spread out the other half. Knead until all the pulp is well incorporated. Then, form the dough into a ball, put it in a bowl, cover it and let it rise. When it's ready, you'll be able to poke it with a wet finger and the dough will either not spring back, or will do so very slowly. Divide the dough, form two loaves, roll the loaves in the sunflower seeds and place into greased pans. Cover and let them rise until they crest above the edge of the pans. Slash the loaves as you like, and then bake at 350 (with steam, if you like) for about 50 minutes. NOTE: Laurel directs readers to do two bulk rises and then shape. Since you've got a pre-ferment, I don't think another bulk rise will do much for the bread, but feel free to experiment.

    Soybean bread wasn't the only thing I made this weekend, however. I also attempted a sourdough pizza using the no-knead technique. The dough was 1/3 whole wheat, 1/3 white bread flour and 1/3 semolina, with salt and olive oil. It was pretty wet -- about 72 percent hydration -- and had about 15% of the flour (whole wheat) in the starter. I let it sit, unkneaded for about 12 hours, folded it, and then put it in the fridge for the afternoon.

    Here's the first pizza. Turned out less than OK. Crust was chewy, not crispy, and the flavor was far too sour. The second pizza? Let me just say I'll never forget to re-flour my peel when making two pizzas EVER AGAIN. I had to set the oven on "clean" the mess was so awful, and, in the process of incinerating the mass of cheese, dough and tomato sauce that remained cemented to the oven floor, it set off my smoke alarm at 3am.

    I also tried to get the no-knead thing right for whole wheat: All whole wheat flour, 85% hydration, 1.8% salt, 15% starter innoculation. 12 hour rest, fold, shape, place in a well-floured (but not well floured enough) banneton and proof for 3.5 hours at 82 degrees F. Bake in a cloche, hot.

    Behold! The super sour pancake!

    But I wasn't finished. I still had about 1 cup of starter left over, and didn't want to throw it away. So I decided to make Sourdough Blueberry Muffins. The only changes I made to the recipe behind the link were to use a whole wheat starter, use whole wheat pastry flour and add 1/4 cup milk to get the right consistency. Not bad at all! Very light and not super-sweet with a simlar sourdough undertone to the sourdough waffles I made the week before. So the weekend turned out ... about 50%. Which I'll take -- maybe next week i'll get the no-knead whole wheat sourdough right. Sigh.

    Here's the muffins.
  • gsampson's picture

    sourdough batter

    January 30, 2007 - 6:29pm -- gsampson

    I started a wild yeast sourdough a few days ago, went through three refreshments and finally reached the point where I was supposed to mix it with the last batch of water and flour, let rise for 6-8 hours, then refrigerate overnight before starting baking with it.  In the previous refreshments, it had bubbled and developed a nice sour smell, but instead of rising to about double in the time suggested, it has just barely risen and isn't making much movement.  Anybody have any ideas about what one should do at this point?  Any thoughts on why it hasn't risen?  Thanks, Garrett

    CountryBoy's picture

    On the keeping of many Starters

    January 29, 2007 - 1:05pm -- CountryBoy

    We have some people who have 5 (SourdoLady)-15 starters.  Could someone please explain how one keeps that many; does one let them all dry out and store separately in the refrigerator?  If so, how long will they last in that state....cryogeneis?...And how much does one store in dried out format to make sure it will come back to Life?  Thanks......

    pumpkinpapa's picture

    Drafty, dry winter weather makes for slow proofs

    January 29, 2007 - 6:30am -- pumpkinpapa

    I currently live in an old drafty farm house which in this cold winter weather is dry enough to dry salt in :) My last house was newer and less drafty and had a humidifier.

    I've seen the proofing times rise dramatically and am trying to find ways to counter this. It's also tough to keep the temperature above  the 69 F or 20 C range too.

    What methods have you found to lessen this kind of impact?

    In the summer we swelter in humidity so that will be a completely different experience. 

    kevroy's picture
    kevroy

    I tried a new ciabatta roll today using a liquid levain starter in my sponge. I flavored it with a little fresh lemon peel, extra virgin olive oil, and chopped parsley. The idea was to keep it from interfering with other foods but still stand on it's own. Mission accomplished as far as that went, but the inside didn't have a nice open cell structure. The crust was nice and crunchy without being hard, though.

    Earlier in the week I made a Kalamata olive sourdough with fresh rosemary, thyme and sage. The secret to this bread, I found, is that less is more. Previous attempts at this bread were so odiferously pungent my poor wife got dizzy from the smell! I cut the olives an herbs in half and ended up with a nicely flavored loaf that only gave my wife a headache.

    pseudobaker's picture

    Starter not rising?

    January 24, 2007 - 9:34pm -- pseudobaker

    Hi - I just found your site today and it has inspired me to try this whole sourdough business again.  I tried Maggie Glazer's sourdough starter back in November and thought it was working, but it never did "rise".  When she says the starter should "quadruple in 8 hours"...well, mine just wasn't doing that.  It would have a nice sour smell and had a definite fermentation going on (lots of bubbles under the surface), but was a sticky, gluey consistency and wasn't rising.  Now, hers is a "firm starter", so I don't know if that makes a difference.  I'm anxious to try some of the trickier breads in her Artisan Baking book, but they all require a starter!

    CountryBoy's picture

    Have Starter but now what...

    January 22, 2007 - 2:48pm -- CountryBoy

    I have the Starter from SourdoLady and her recipe and am ready to go with my first Sourdough Loaf but do not know how to go from the 1/4 : 1/4; 1/4 (flour, water, starter )to the next step of one full cup of Starter. Should I just have the next batch be....1/2, 1/2,1/2? How does one expand this stuff and what is the limit?  A week ago SourdoLady said she was changing computers and I never saw anymore posts by her.  Is she ok? We love you where ever you are SourdoLady...

    JMonkey's picture
    JMonkey

    Many, many months ago, when I first started making sourdough, I tried making sourdough waffles with some leftover starter.

    Man, was I disappointed. The flavor was nice, but the recipe said to expect some cool chemistry, and I saw none. What's more, these waffles were heavy and tough. Chewy. I like a crispy waffle with a tender, airy interior. Though the taste was good, these definitely did not fit the bill.

    Then, last night, after I'd set up the final build for today's weekly sourdough bake, I had a revelation. I was making a no-knead version of white flour sourdough (odd for me, as those of you who know me know that I'm a health-nut hippie crunchy whole-wheat kind of guy. But every so often, I get a white bread craving, and, besides, we had company coming over. So what the hell?), and I had some starter left over. I hate throwing the stuff away. Glancing over at the unkneaded dough that would essentially knead itself while I slept, it suddenly hit me.

    "Duh. You were using AP and whole wheat BREAD flour in the sponge for the waffles. No wonder it was tough. The stuff kneaded itself into bread dough!"

    Doh.

    So I went to the freezer, where I had a bag of leftover soft white whole wheat flour (i.e. whole wheat pastry flour -- I grind my own, but Bob's Red Mill sells an excellent whole wheat pastry flour. Their regular whole wheat bread flour? Not so much.) I figured I had enough starter and flour for a half batch of the recipe I'd used before, which made six waffles. Plenty for my wife, my 3-year-old daughter and me. So using the sourdough waffle recipe from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion as a guide, I whipped up a whole wheat version.

    What a difference pastry flour makes. These were the lightest, crispiest, tastiest waffles I'd ever had. And, they were 100% whole wheat. I promise, if you make them with whole wheat pastry flour, especially WHITE whole wheat pastry flour, no one's going to know the difference:

    Ingredients:
    OVERNIGHT SPONGE -

  • 6 ounces or about 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 Tbs sweetener (honey, agave syrup, sugar, maple sugar, whatever)
  • 9 ounces or 1 cup and 2 Tbs butttermilk
  • 2 ounces or 1/4 cup of active sourdough starter, preferably whole wheat, but not required. Should be the wet kind (i.e. 100% hydration.)

    BATTER
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbs (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

    Mix up the sponge the night before. Cover it and let it sit. The next morning, it should be very bubbly. In another bowl, beat the egg with the melted butter until light, and then mix in the salt and baking soda. Dump this mixture into the sponge -- if the sponge is acidic enough, it should jump when it hits the alkaline baking soda. Mix it all together and then spoon it into a hot waffle iron. You'll know your waffle iron better than mine, but it usually takes about 2-3 minutes. I judge by the volume of steam -- when it starts to dissapate, they're usually done.

    This recipe makes six traditional waffles. If you've got a Belgian waffle maker, I'm afraid you'll have to find out for yourself how many it will make, but no matter. The recipe stands well to doubling, even quadrupeling, and leftover waffles freeze beautifully, so don't worry about making too many. When you want one for breakfast, just pop it direclty into the toaster from the freezer. Delicious.

    If you want to use up more starter than I did, simply double the amount of starter and only add 1 cup (8 ounces) of buttermilk and 5 ounces (1 cup + 1 Tbs) of flour.

  • CountryBoy's picture

    Saving my Starter

    January 20, 2007 - 6:57am -- CountryBoy

    Is there some way that I can save my wild yeast starter?  I do not want to put it in the fridge and feed it every week or two.  I know that freezing it will kill it.  Is there some way for me to dry it all out and then reconstitute it when I need it?  It seems a waste of time and effort to throw out what I do not use.  Thanks.....

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