Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sweet Transitional Sourdough

My Most Aesthetic Bread Yet

I made some bread today for our Downton Abbey picnic. It was absolutely fantastic. I realized that by refreshing the wild yeast a few hours before using putting it into the starter in the bread recipe, it gives the bread that amazing sweet flavor with no sweeteners of any kind. It was far too tempting-- we ate the whole first loaf between the three of us tonight.

I wanted to put this up on Yeast Spotting so I decided to repost the recipe. It can also be found on my original post, A New Sourdough, and on my Recipe Page.


  •  56.5g 100% hydration starter
  • 227g Whole Wheat Flour
  • 150g Water, room temperature
  •  All of the starter
  • 445g Water (warm)
  • 567g Unbleached Bread Flour (I used a combination of bread flour and-- when I ran out of that-- a high-protein all-purpose flour-- King Arthur's)
  • 18g Salt
Starter (Day 1)
  • Mix the ingredients for the starter together about 8 hours befor you plan to use it.
  • Make sure you mix it with a for or something that will help incorporate a little air.
  • Cover the bowl or jar and leave it to mature overnight at room temperature. Otherwise, the starter can rest in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Final Dough (Day 2)
  • The starter, by now, should be all bubbly and smell slightly sweet.
  • Dissolve the starter in the water.
  • Then add the unbleached flour and the salt and mix into tacky ball. Let the dough rest for five minutes.
  • The knead the dough by hand for 3 minutes. Try to incorporate air.
  • Then do the first Peter Reinhart stretch-and-fold. Do four total with 10 minutes in between each.
  • Depending on how warm your kitchen is, let the dough rest out (covered) for 1.5-2 hours before placing in the refrigerator. It was about 75 degrees in my kitchen and I let the dough sit out for 2 hours. Place it in the refrigerator overnight.
Shaping and Baking (Day 3)
  •  Take the bread out of the refrigerator 5-6 hours before baking. Let it rest on at room temperature for 2-3 hours, depending upon the room temperature. The bread was still very cold at 2 hours, so I waited the extra hour.
  • Then turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it. It can make two 1.5lb loaves or three 1lb loaves. Preshape.
  • Let the dough rest for 20-30 minutes, and then do the final shaping. Cover the loaves and let them rise for 2.5-4 hours. My loaves needed three hours. The first loaf we baked after two hours and I think that it could have used a little extra rising time, while the second one we baked at three hours and it turned out better.
  • 20 minutes before baking, heat up the your oven with your stone-and-broth-pot or dutch oven to 500 degrees F.
  • Turn your dough onto a floured peel and score it right before you put it into the oven. Turn the oven down to 450 degrees F (425 convection). 
  • Let the dough bake under steam for 30-35 minutes, making sure that the edges of your scoring marks have turned golden.
  • Then bake it for 20-25 minutes without steam, ensuring that it has an internal temperature of 212 degrees. It should be fairly light in weight and dark brown in color.
  • Wait at least 30 minutes before slicing.

It was absolutely fantastic. One or two notes:

First, I've been using parchment on the dough as I slide it into the oven. It take the parchment paper off the bottom when I take the bread out from under steam. The reason that I've been doing this is twofold. First, sometimes my breads stick to the peel a little and stretch as I slide them into the oven. This does not happen with the parchment paper. Second, it means there is less flour that burns in the oven that I have to clean up later.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wine Snob: Clos du Calvaire

The other night with the Downton Abbey picnic, we tried a bottle of Clos du Calvaire 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape. It was a lovely wine. We decanted it for about two hours before we tasted it. The wine had a medium body. It had notes of cherry, raspberry, earth, wood, nuts, and a hint of sourness.

I would definitely try it again. It is lovely and it melded well with the bread and cheese spread.

Monday, October 10, 2011

City Bread, A Second Attempt

City Bread
As I mentioned, I made some more city bread this weekend. I did not make the same mistakes this time, but the crumb still wasn't perfect. I also let the bread sit for 2 hours before cutting into it. The flavor still did not mature as much as I would like until about 5 hours.
Spiral Scoring
I also probably should have left it to brown a little longer. However, the internal temperature was 212 degrees F and the crust sang beautifully when I removed it from the oven.
I also increased the amount of whole wheat from the original recipe. It was 2:3 ratio whole wheat to bread flour.
The ears did not bloom enough, sadly
I doubled the recipe and made a second loaf. It was a batard-- sort of. I don't have a batard basket, so I line a loaf pan with a floured cloth. It came out reasonably well this time, but we have a lot of bread around so I am going to freeze it.
The bread is about 82% hydration which is an awful lot. I am not great at working with it, so the crumb is not perfect. However, it is soft and moist but still light.
There was actually some better crumb on the inside, but I did not have a camera with me at the time.
We ate about 3/4 of the bread.
We decanted a bottle of wine for three hours before drinking it. it was lovely.
Girls in the Vinyard, Cabernet Sauvignon 2005
We set out a splendid picnic with one of the last cucumbers from the garden.
Great episode of Downton Abbey. More next week.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wine Snob: Servia Reviews a Wine from Down Under

Today I have something a little different. I did not get my act together to write a review of the last wine that we opened, so I asked Servia compile her notes and write one. I thought she wrote a lovely review and I posted it:
Our weekly tradition, a relaxing Sunday picnic supper and Downton Abbey, now includes a wee bit of wine tasting. Week Two's offering was Australian: a 2004 Yering Station Shiraz-Voignier (5%). Not well-versed in wine attribution, I must say the Australian wines I had encountered previously left me wishing for something less heavy-handed. This wine however, proved a different experience. The color was a soft maroon and it had damp, woodsy aroma. It offered a medium body, with notes of ripe blackberry, wild raspberry and smoky cedar with a touch of pepper near the end and long finish. I favor Shiraz from Washington these days and this Australian cousin seemed to have the Northwest style in mind. We all agreed it was too bold for this particular meal (a rustic spread of fresh sourdough, cheese, and seasonal fruits and vegetables) but I would happily try it again, perhaps decanting it longer.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Follow Up on Dolphin Comunication

In March, I posted a piece on a group of scientists who were trying to create a common language in order to communicate simply with dolphins. I thought it was pretty cool. Recently, the New York Times did a feature on the same topic so I thought I would post it.

Now time to study for my prose composition quiz.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I Take It All Back...

No-Knead Bread
I admit it. I didn't think it could be done. I thought the no-knead revolution was absolutely absurd. Unfortunately, my increasingly busy schedule has kept me from making some of my traditional breads. So I tried a no-knead bread from from The Fresh Loaf and it worked just as it did in the pictures. I could not believe my eyes.
Crust is crisp and thin.
The crust was thinner that I usually like but is crunched and shattered beautifully. Also, although all of my breads have sung recently, this one I could hear cracking all the way across the room. It was beautiful.
Beautiful Crumb.
The crumb inside was fantastic. I had no idea it would turn out this well. The beginning stages did not look promising.
The one thing this bread lacked was the lovely sweetness of the sourdough I like. It was nutty and flavorful, but neither sour nor sweet. This may have been the semolina.
It may be gone by morning.
  • 30g Whole Wheat Starter
  • 346g Water
  • 300g Bread Flour
  • 105g Semolina Flour
  • 45g Whole Wheat Flour
  • 9g Salt
  • Mix water and starter and stir vigorously until starter is fully dissolved. Mix flour and salt to fully distribute salt. Put flour and salt together and use a dough scraper to work the flour into the water. Continue working around the bowl scraping dough from the side toward the center and pushing it down in the center, until you have a shaggy mass.
  • Wait 5 minutes.
  • Do a few stretch-and-folds.
  • Place dough in covered bowl to rise at 75F for 4 hours.
  • Place the dough in the refrigerator overnight. For about 16-30* hours.
  • Take the dough out and let it sit for 2-3 hours or until it starts to warm to room temperature and bubble.
  • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pre-shape.
  • Let the dough bench rest for 30 minutes.
  • Shape the dough and put it into a linen-lined bowl dusted with rice and wheat flour.
  • Let it have a final rise for two hours.
  • Turn it onto a peel, slash, and bake as follows.
  • After a 30 minute preheat at 500 degrees F, bake the bread under steam at 450 degrees F for 30-35 minutes and then bake for 20 minutes or until 100 degrees C (212 degrees F) on the inside and chestnut brown and crispy on the outside.
  • Wait for at least 1 hour before cutting.
I am a convert. I will try this bread again.

* - (Note 10/7/11) I tired this bread again and I did not let it bulk rise for long enough so the crumb was really lackluster and unfortunate.

I also made some bread the other day. I tried to make Frankie Olive's City Bread, but I made every possible mistake so it came out misshapen. It still tasted fantastic. I will try again.
Crust: A little thin, but good.
 We ate it last night and this morning.
Irregular holes, but a little dense in spots. Still good.

Now I need to go study Sallust and Latin meter (not at the same time, obviously).