Hello Fresh People!
I've been baking sourdough for a few years now, and have always used the knead method. I've had good luck baking in my cast iron dutch oven and even better luck in my romertopf clay oven. I've been looking for a sourdough that will fit my lodge 4lp loaf pan so it would be more sandwichey, and came across a no-knead recipe on sourdough international http://www.sourdo.com/recipes/no-knead-sourdough/ which has been interesting. This might work, but it will need some tweaking for my use. I'm hoping to get some good help from you all on here.
The recipe calls for three proofs, the first one a culture proof. "Mix 1 cup of the fully active culture with 1 cup of flour and sufficient water to form a thick pancake batter consistency and proof it for 6 to 8 hours at 65-70oF if you prefer a mild flavor or at 75-85oF if you want it more sour."
My culture is a Carl's Oregon that has been going strong for about six months. I take one cup of starter and feed it 1 cup of King Arthurs Bread Flour with about 1 scant cup of spring water mixed and left to bubble up for 6 to 8 hours. I always make sure to use the start for the culture proof when it is at the top of its yeasty bubbling. The culture proof has been nice and bubbly, lots of good gas action going on.
The second proof is a dough proof: "In a large bowl briefly mix the flour, culture, water and salt. The consistency should be firm and shaggy. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and proof over night ( 10-12 hours) at room temperature (65-70oF) for a mild flavor or at 75-80oF in a proofing box for a more sour flavor." I leave it out on the counter overnight for the 10 to 12 hours, and it more than doubles itself. The temp is around 76 to 77 degrees. It goes from being a shaggy mess to a wet sticky gloppy mess. The instructions say to flour your surface and leave the sticky dough for 15 minutes to relax the gluten, which I do, but feel is unnecessary.
The third proof says to use enough flour to shape the dough into a boule. I don't do that, I use enough flour to form the wet mess into a loaf the size of my Lodge LP4 Cast Iron Loaf pan, which I grease with butter or Crisco, and then leave it to rise for an hour - hour and a half, in my cold electric oven. After the dough has risen over the pan an inch, I do the poke test and make sure the dough is springing back. I do follow the cooking instructions, which are to turn the oven on to 375 Degrees Fahrenheit and cook for an hour and ten minutes, leaving the loaf pan in the cold oven.
I go an extra step and put several ice cubes in a cast iron corn bread skillet so that they will melt and give off humidity. I also attempt to score the top of the loaf but it is so wet it makes no difference. I think so far all I have done is make the dough laugh at me. You can barely tell where I score it, there are no ears. The surface of the loaf is not smooth at all. But I've had great oven spring - it is doing exactly what I wanted and rising up to make a sandwich type loaf. But the crust is a pale greige, that's the only color I can think to describe it. It is NOT the lovely golden brown of my kneaded loaves. The crumb is pretty good, there are some holes in it, but it is still just slightly a little gummy and for as wet as the dough is - I would have thought the holes would be a tad larger. I do check the temp before pulling the loaf out and it was 182 degrees Fahrenheit. The crust is also so crisp you can break your teeth on it and there are no ears, no crackling crust when it is cooling on the rack.
Please post any suggestions on what to do to get a nice lovely golden shade with some good crisp ears, larger holes in the crumb and a chewy crust. I did try one loaf at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and the color was almost perfect and it did crackle while cooling. The crust was more chewy as well but the crumb was gummy.
I am thinking the oven needs to be hotter, but should I turn it up to 450 and then down to 400 when the oven reaches temperature, or should I just crank it up to 400 and leave it for an hour instead of an hour and ten minutes?
Any suggestions you have are appreciated!
Thanks and happy baking!
Denise in Texas