Success!

I did it! I made my first sourdough loaf of bread with Charlesford!

I’m so incredibly pleased at the results of my first loaf, but it can definitely use a few tweaks and adjustments to get the loaf where I would be 100% happy with presenting it as a proper loaf of bread, sourdough or no.

The crust is fantastic — the bottom of the loaf has a light coating of cornmeal and is a very handsome dark golden brown. It has just enough crustiness to give you some good solid crumbs when you slice the loaf with a serrated knife or if you’re feeling manly & rustic you could tear it into generous chunks. The top crust is perfectly golden brown colour and just “chewy enough” if there’s such a description to exist.

The loaf’s interior is actually a little bit too dense in a couple of places, so I don’t know if this is an indication that the loaf could have used another hour or two for the second proofing or perhaps use a little more of the sourdough starter to help boost the strength of the yeastie-beasties to make the amount of bread dough rise.

Flavour-wise, my loaf was actually a little too yeasty tasting for my liking. Again, my thoughts are that perhaps more proofing time for the second-rise before baking, might help fix that problem. In terms of sour-ness, it wasn’t at all sour compared to a loaf you’d buy in the store. On the one hand I was a little disappointed, but on the other, I was kind of okay with it because it’s already a really nice, hearty, bread that’s so much tastier than anything storebought.

What surprised me, through some of my original sourdough starter researching, was discovering that traditionally, sourdough bread isn’t supposed to actually BE very sour tasting to begin with. The whole sourness thing is more of an American phenomenon and sourdough breads that you buy at the grocery stores aren’t real sourdoughs at all: They’re just an everyday yeasted bread with an acid added to it for flavouring. Disturbing yet no real surprise there, once you think about it, especially since everyone’s into “biggy-ing up” flavours in all sorts of food.

I am not even close to being an amateur bread-baker, so I will have to do a more research to help fix these issues that I have. I have NO plans on becoming obsessive with my breadmaking — this is hopefully just gonna be a (bi-?)weekly experiment, seeing if I can eventually get a really nice loaf of bread that I can be proud to share with friends and family.

Onto the nitty-gritties!!

Firstly, I am slowly starting to realize that when making a sourdough starter, I should expect it to take a lot longer than whatever the recipe might state. One week in internet land is equivalent to about two or three weeks in my world. It’s kind of strange, but now that I am aware of this anomaly in the spacetime continuum, I can move on as planned. What this means for you: If you don’t have life within the first week, don’t despair. Keep on as you are and know that whatever is expected to happen, will happen in its own time.

Secondly, a couple of notes about where I got my recipes from. I can’t begin to tell you how many different recipes for Sourdough Starters I’ve read in hopes of getting something that would work for me without wasting so much flour just to get things going. In the end, I fiddled with a recipe for Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter, submitted by SourdoLady, to The Fresh Loaf website. There are tons & tons of starter recipes online, so by all means, if you already want to try your hand at some other recipe you have bookmarked in the past, go for it and grow your own yeastie-beasties!!

Thirdly, making sourdough bread, not including the prep-work for making the starter, takes time. Lots of time. This is not a recipe that uses instant yeast so you can bang out a loaf of bread in three hours. This bread takes, ideally, closer to twenty-four. But don’t panic because most of that is totally hands-off time just hanging out somewhere out of the way on the counter or in the fridge. Time spent actually manhandling your bread dough is probably something closer to twenty minutes total.

So with those few points in hand, I think we can get on with the adventure of making sourdough breads!

Sourdough Starter
You will need: 500ml Mason jar with ring, cheesecloth (or kleenex) + large container with lid (eventually)
Orange juice (to start)
Whole Wheat Flour (to start)
White Flour (to feed)
Filtered Water (to feed — I use boiled water that’s left to cool to room temperature)

Day 1:
In your 500ml jar, mix 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour + 3 Tbsp orange juice
Cover with cheesecloth & secure with metal ring, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
Don’t forget to name your new sourdough starter!

Day 2: Stir well
Add 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour + 3 Tbsp orange juice
Cover again with cheesecloth & metal ring, and let sit at room temperature 24 hours.

Day 3: Stir well
Add 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour + 3 Tbsp juice
Cover again with cheesecloth & metal ring, and let sit at room temperature 24 hours.

Day 4: Stir down, measure out 1/4 cup starter and discard the rest.
Put the 1/4 cup starer in the large container with lid
Add 1/4 cup flour (your choice: white or whole wheat!) + 1/4 cup filtered water
Stir well, cover with cheesecloth & secure with metal ring, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 5 & onwards:Repeat this step until mixture starts to expand, bubble and smell yeasty.
Add 1/4 cup flour (your choice: white or whole wheat!) + 1/4 cup filtered water
Stir well, cover with cheesecloth & secure with metal ring, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

When you think your sourdough starter is of a decent size (let’s say around 2+ cups worth), is stinky, bubbles with vim & vigour when fed, it’s time to try your first loaf of sourdough bread! At this point you can keep it in the fridge if you like, but just remember: When you want to use the starter, feed it after you’ve stirred it down & measured out the amount you want to remove for use.

The recipe that I used for my first sourdough loaf was found here. Biggest reason I chose this recipe was that it made a relatively small loaf that would be more than enough for The Hubbs & myself to finish in a decent amount of time. I didn’t follow all the intructions, but I would highly recommend that you take a look-see at what the original recipe has to offer as guidance for making the perfect loaf. The original recipe is chock-full of instructions (plus starter recipe) and way more detail than I am interested in for my own bread-making.

Homemade Sourdough Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups warm filtered water (I use boiled water that’s been left to go cold)
1/4 cup sourdough starter
Cornmeal

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Stir your sourdough starter well & remove 1/4 cup for bread dough. Don’t forget to feed your starter!
Dissolve the sourdough starter in the water.
Pour the water mixture on the flour while stirring.
The dough will be pretty shaggy, like a no-knead loaf, so don’t bother trying to knead & make pretty.
Shape the dough into a ball and cover the bowl with plastic.
Leave the dough to rise for ~18hours at room temperature.
Gently deflate dough and re-shape into a ball.
Let rest on a generously floured surface, covered with a floured tea towel to rise for another 2 hours.
After 1 1/2 hours rising time, preheat oven with a small, cast iron dutch oven with lid, inside to 475F for 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, slash top of bread a couple of times with a sharp knife.
VERY carefully remove pot & lid from oven, sprinkle cornmeal on bottom of pot, place dough inside and quickly replace the lid.
Reduce heat to 450F and bake bread for 30 minutes with lid.
Remove lid from pot, reduce heat to 400F and bake bread for another 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Transfer bread to wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour. DO NOT EAT!!
Once cooled, slather with butter and enjoy your new loaf of bread.

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One thought on “Success!

  1. Pingback: A loaf of bread can be something absolutely beautiful to behold… « Adventures of the Purple Soybean Nap Avenger

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