The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sourdough with caramelized onion and parmesan

Felila's picture
Felila

Sourdough with caramelized onion and parmesan

Intrigued by the recipe featured on the home page, I decided to try to duplicate it. For a Thanksgiving potluck, which was daring fate. Problems were: I did not have the required ingredients (no freshly ground red fife flour, no freshly ground flax seeds) nor the required equipment. No banettons or multiple dutch ovens. My oven blew a top element. Oven is old, replacement element no longer available, so it will only heat to 360 degrees. 

But I made the caramelized onion (following tips in Bittman's How to Cook Everything), used KA bread flour and whole wheat flour, and baked by weight rather than volume for the first time. I must have done something wrong, because the dough came out so so wet and gloppy. I could not form it into boules. Rather than add more flour, I just put the dough into two greased cake pans. 

Usually I use the Peter Reinhart levain recipe, and add the optional baking yeast. This time I decide to go all sourdough all the way, and set the bread out to rise. So slow. I ended up setting my alarm for 3 AM so I could get up and put the pans into the refrigerator for retarding. 

Set the pans out to proof, late Thanksgiving morning. The dough did NOT want to rise. But potluck approached, so I heated up the oven and put in the pans. 

The bread rose in the center but stuck to the cake pans at the edges. A struggle to get out the weirdly shaped loaves. I was sure that they were a failure. 

But I took them to the potluck, sliced them up and ... they were a hit. Only a few slices left. 

Will make again, perhaps back off on the hydration. 

sadkitchenkid's picture
sadkitchenkid

reading this was an emotional rollercoaster haha! Glad all worked out!

dabrownman's picture
dabrownman

a hit.  I always spray tins with cooking spray so nothing ever sticks,  New recipes are always a bit tricky, worrisome and a leap into the unknown.  What is fine for me, after years if gloppy messes, is still a gloppy mess for others and my kitchen is always a bit warmer, maybe 10-15 F,  than everyone else's so things happen much faster.  Glad it all worked out in the end!

Happy baking

Felila's picture
Felila

I greased the pans with olive oil, but I am guessing that the dough just absorbed that over the long proofing times. 

nmygarden's picture
nmygarden

Glad it turned out despite all the odds. It may be a good time to replace that oven, though, and remove one variable that's working against you.

Happy Holidays!

Felila's picture
Felila

Too poor. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps. Hanging on by my fingernails.

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

You did a good job of substituting ingredients so that, I don't think, was the issue. And feel free to omit the flax. I put it in because it adds omega 3s to the bread and it absorbs some of the extra water I like to use to make it easier to mix by hand.

Like you noted, if your dough was too sloppy, it means that your flour isn't capable of absorbing the same amount of water that my flour can, so feel free to cut way back. I usually just add a portion of the water in a recipe and see how the mixing goes. If it needs more, I add the rest. Sometimes, it needs a lot more than the recipe calls for so I just put it in. For example, the Spice Raisin Loaf I made this weekend needed another 115 g of water plus a bit more than the recipe called for. You get to prefer a certain feel to your dough and you adjust the water accordingly. It took me a while to learn that water amounts are not set in stone. Some flours absorb more (Canadian flours seem especially thirsty) and others need way less.

Your rising issue might also be attributed to the excess water. I have had the same experience that overly hydrated dough just doesn't want to rise for me and then it flops in terms of oven spring in the oven. I know others are able to make super open crumb with lots of water but I haven't mastered that skill yet.

In the end, I am glad that the taste was still there and that it was a hit for you.  

Felila's picture
Felila

I have been making the Peter Reinhart levain for years, and am comfortable with adding water or flour as necessary to perfect the dough. I do not mix by hand, but use a Kitchenaid mixer with dough hook. I can tell by how the dough behaves when kneaded just what I need to do. 

I did not have the degree of comfort with an entirely new recipe and procedure. I deferred too much to the recipe and not enough to my sense of dough texture. Not only have I learned how to make this particular loaf again without the hydration issues ... I've learned not to doubt my sense of just how much hydration I can handle. Which is not as much hydration as some bakers manage.

 

Danni3ll3's picture
Danni3ll3

handling skills are that great. I really think that my flour is extra thirsty. I find it really hard to mix dough that is less than 70% hydration. It just doesn't come together for me. Maybe it is because I mix everything by hand. I have thought of using the kitchenaid, but it never happens.