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Archive for December, 2008

Bread instead of Bricks

The weather here in Georgia is still not co-operating as far as brick laying goes. My brother called yesterday to ask about oven progress and we discussed how the professionals can lay brick in freezing weather. Since I’m not a professional and am in no hurry now that Thanksgiving is past, the brick laying is on hold.

A week or so ago, I ordered a sourdough starter and a couple of other items from Northwest Sourdough. I received my order promptly and set about making the dried sourdough flakes into something that would make bread.

About that time, my father-in-law gave me several 5 lb. sacks of flour that he didn’t have a use for (he’s a hoarder NOT a cook). The oldest was dated Feb. 2007 and the freshest was dated November 2007.  Being of a frugal nature myself, I decided to use the flour as part of my starter along with some fresh (this month) King Arthur bread flour. The old flour didn’t seem to hurt the sourdough action, so I proceeded to make bread.

I followed Northwest’s recipe for first loaf sourdough but was disappointed. The loaf didn’t rise much and was pale. I ate most of  it anyway.

Second try with the same recipe but here are the results. This loaf also didn’t rise over about 3 inches high and took about 30 minutes to cook. The worst part was the taste! I actually threw this in the trash rather than  consume those calories.  Here, I dug the loaf out of the trash in order to

The loaf that couldn't be saved!

The loaf that couldn't be saved!

photograph it! It doesn’t actually look too bad in this shot but believe me, it was a looser.

I still wanted some sourdough bread, but something about my technique or the starter or both was lacking. I decided to combine some of the characteristics of my successful Tassajara bread with sourdough starter.

Part of my problem with the sourdough recipe is that it makes a very wet dough.  “Challenging to work with”  is an understatement. It also takes forever to rise and the recipe allows for 2 days of fermentation and proofing. The Tassajara bread still uses a starter sponge method but only takes one longish day to produce a beautiful loaf.  To make my hybrid bread, I used the sourdough starter (which is quite liquid) for half the liquid component and warm water for the other half. Then I added some regular yeast and a tablespoon of wonderfully flavorful sorghum as the sweetner. I also added enough KA bread flour to make a dough that I could kneed easily by hand. Oh yes, NO old flour in this batch!!! Frugal doesn’t taste good.

Sourdough Tassajara loaf - the crumb

Sourdough Tassajara loaf - the crumb

The result? Success  (to my mind and taste buds) and here are the pictures to prove it. This loaf has a mild sourdough flavor but rose high and proud with a nice crust and lovely fine crumb.

I’m not sure what I’ll use all that year old flour for, but it won’t be for my bread!

Here’s another pic of the good loaf. Note the nice slashes made with the handy and well made razor blade lame purchased from Northwest Sourdough.

Nice slash "ears" on the Tassajara Sourdough

Nice slash "ears" on the Tassajara Sourdough

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