The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

The No-choice, bleached AP sourdough experiment

MangoPop's picture

The No-choice, bleached AP sourdough experiment

Bleached (gasp!) AP  flour sourdough - making dough with what you got.

(First time poster here - you are all a great resource!)

Our COVID-19 stay-at-home experience has affected us all in a number of different ways. One of the less important, though very common things many of us are noticing is that we have little choice of flour from our market shelves. They're typically empty (at least here in Colorado), and the few times I've seen a bit of stock it's been with garden variety, bleached AP flour. I've not seen a higher quality flour (e.g. KA) stocked in weeks. Not to despair! A good, serviceable and, delicious loaf of sourdough bread is still possible.

I made this loaf with 100% Ardent Mills Hotel & Restaurant Flour. It's a bleached AP flour that my local Costco stocks for dirt cheap. If I recall correctly, under $10 for a 25# bag. Protein content - who knows? But given how the dough behaved, I suspect it's on the lower end of things.

I did a my typical lazy-person's approach (fairly typical of a lot of no-knead, low-knead recipes that are out there): Starter, water, flour and salt all mixed in at once at the beginning for a 70% hydration dough. It sat for a half hour to let the flour absorb the water then I gave it a few stretch and folds (maybe 8 or 10?), then put it away overnight in a cool basement room that stays at around 58-60degF. Not warm, but not refrigerator cold, either. No autolyse, no coil folds, no laminations. About as simple as it gets.

The next morning, when it was apparent that fermentation had reached a reasonable level, I turned it out onto my counter and preshaped. This is where the difference if flour let itself be known. The dough was looser than I typically get with my usual KA Bread or KA AP flours. But, it was still manageable to work with a gentle touch. I then let it sit for 30 minutes on the counter, and then final shaped into a round basket, letting it rise further at room temperature while I warmed up the oven for a full hour. No refrigerator retardation.

Into the oven it went using the typical dutch oven method. Of course, it doesn't have that perfect 10 crumb, but the flavor and texture is still pretty darn good. The moral of the story is don't let lack of your ideal flour stop you from baking bread.

bakeaway's picture

That is a beautiful looking loaf. I too am in CO and all I can find is the Costco flour (I think I got mine for $6, so dirt cheap), and am planning on tackling this over the weekend. Thanks for giving me hope.

MangoPop's picture

I think you're right - it really was around $6 for the 25# bag. I had thought it was that cheap but couldn't exactly remember, so erred on the high side. Literally 1/5th the price per pound of what I pay for KA!

Gemini II's picture
Gemini II

Really restores my hopefulness about my first starters when I see success like this with bleached AP flour. I hope mine are even half as beautiful! :)

CTierney's picture

Results look great!  I think we are all in the same boat about baking with what you have.  Central Milling had some 25 lb bags of organic flour about a month ago.  I bought one with 11.7% protein, more like KA AP than Bread flour.  It's has been working pretty well for natural levain recipies.