Monday, February 27, 2012

More Sourdough

As much as I want to continue my attempts at perfecting French macarons, sheer economics dictates otherwise.  In my last attempt, I had come to the conclusion that my food processor simply can’t grind the almonds finely enough and that using purchased almond meal would be necessary.  However, at $11.65 per pound almond meal is rather pricey – much more so than the 25 pound bag of bread flour we recently purchased for under $7.00.  So.  Macarons on the back burner; bread on the front.

Yesterday I decided to try a new sourdough bread recipe from King Arthur Flour.  (I’m still using the starter from the Tea & Cookies sourdough challenge.)  After I printed the recipe for Rustic Sourdough Bread, I realized it was scarcely different from the Extra-Tangy Sourdough recipe I’ve been using.  Still, I wanted to bake bread yesterday and the Extra-Tangy requires overnight fermentation.  But then I had the idea to make both recipes and compare them.  The overnight fermentation of the Extra-Tangy is one of the differences between these recipes, another is that the Rustic Sourdough has added yeast.  I was curious as to how the yeast would make the final loaves different.  The mixing methods are slightly different also, but since I don’t follow the instructions very well anyway that wasn’t much of a consideration. 

Rustic Sourdough
The dough for the Rustic Sourdough was simple to make (dump all the ingredients together, mix, and knead) and was quite lovely in texture:  smooth, supple and very easy to handle.  It’s what my baking instructor would have called a “sexy dough”.  At the time I didn’t really understand what he meant by that.  I get it now.  That’s pretty much where my infatuation with the dough itself ends though.  The addition of the yeast apparently meant that so much as looking at the dough the wrong way caused it to deflate.  I still ended up with two nice loaves of bread.  The crust was crispy and the interior was chewy, yet tender, with a coarse crumb.  But it didn’t particularly taste like sourdough.  Good bread, just not good sourdough bread.

Extra-Tangy Sourdough
This was my fourth time making the Extra-Tangy Sourdough.  I’ve been very satisfied with the results of this recipe.  Although I did use a small amount (1/4 teaspoon) of citric acid in this batch, the starter has aged enough that I’m curious to know if it has developed a sour flavor that can stand on its own.  The next time I make this recipe (which may be later this week) I’m going to omit the citric acid.  I’m also going to try halving the recipe to make just one loaf.  Occasionally, two loaves is a little much for two people to eat within a reasonable amount of time.  Not to mention four.

The boule on the left was baked in the cast iron skillet;
the one on the right on the baking stone.

Because I don’t follow directions well, my method for the Extra-Tangy dough is to mix all of the flour, water and starter and then knead in the sugar, salt and citric acid.  This causes the dough to feel gritty at first and then dough gets very moist and tacky as the dry ingredients are being kneaded in.  It isn’t quite as appealing to the touch as the Rustic, but I prefer the results of this method versus how it's written in the recipe.  In addition to halving the recipe, I'm also going to try mixing all of the ingredients at once.  If I'm going to deviate I may as well go all out!  

Ordinarily, I bake my loaves on pre-heated baking stones, but this time I decided to try baking one of the loaves in a pre-heated cast iron skillet.  The loaf baked in the skillet browned more significantly on the bottom than the one baked on the stone.  And made it very difficult to peel the parchment off the bottom of the bread.  I believe I’ll stick to the baking stones. 

And as if four loaves of sourdough in two days wasn't enough, I decided today was also a good day to deal with the rapidly declining bananas sitting on the counter.  So while my sourdough loaves were rising, I made a loaf of chocolate banana bread.  But more on that tomorrow.


  1. I'm impressed that you could make so much bread in one day. That extra-tangy sourdough sounds fantastic. I'll be curious to see if your starter is sour enough on its own yet. I've never attempted sourdough, but it's definitely my favorite kind of bread to eat!

    1. The extra-tangy has become a favorite, especially for me since the recipe is so forgiving. Had I known it would be so easy I would have started making it long ago! I'm aiming to get my version of the recipe posted once I'm finished modifying.


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