Adventures in Sourdoughland

So, this weekend I made my sourdough bread. Bear with me, it had been a while… the old apartment I lived in killed everything. I couldn’t keep a starter there, and even my plants died within weeks of moving there. This is the first time I’ve made bread since we moved to this house.

Look, the sponge is nice and bubbly. Very active and ready to go. What I’m going to make today is an eyeball half-sorta version of the no-knead bread method. I’m just going to eyeball the amounts and I’ll bake it in the style of the no-knead recipe in my homemade La Cloche styler bread baker.

Friday night I started the bread. I put a cup of whole rye flour into the bowl.

I added a cup of water to the sponge and stirred it in until it was thoroughly mixed.

I poured in the liquidy sponge and mixed it all well with a rubber spatula.
Then I added a cup of white bread flour and a cup of whole wheat flour.

You can see it’s a pretty wet sticky dough. Not one you could knead with your hands! I left the dough as is and stuck it into the fridge overnight. In the morning, I took it out about 10am and let it sit to get to room temperature and watched it until it was risen to double.

Then, I turned it out on a WELL floured board. With WELL floured hands, I patted it out into a flat semi-rectangle. With the help of my spatula, I folded the dough over onto itself a couple times, flouring well as I went along.

Here you can see my rising “basket” which is actually just an old clean birdseye diaper on top of a small stockpot. I don’t use flour on the diaper, but actually I use wheat bran. If you use flour, the extreme hydration in the dough soaks through it in no time and sticks to the cloth. You want it to not stick… wheat bran is ideal for this. Rice flour also works well.

I plopped the dough in, folded side down (smooth side up). I also sprinkled more wheat bran around the edges since as the dough rises, it will stick to the cloth unless you have something there to prevent it.
So then I realized that I hadn’t added SALT. Bread is pretty tasteless without salt, even tasty flavorful sourdough rye! So I plopped it back out onto the board and tried to get as much of the wheat bran as I could off.

I patted it out, and threw on about a teaspoon of salt. Now comes the fun part – kneading it in! lol….

With lots of flour and frustration I managed to knead the bread, or rather, fold it in passably.

This way I could at least take pictures of the folding process, which I forgot to do before. First, you flatten out the dough and fold over the top third into the middle.

Then, you fold the bottom third into the middle also.

Then, you fold over one side onto the other…

And voila! Folded dough.

So I put it back into my proofing “basket” and covered it with a plastic bag to keep in the moisture while it rises.

After it had finished rising I promptly realized that I forgot to keep part of the culture out for continuing my starter! So I oh-so-carefully grabbed some from the top, trying to not deflate it. You can see how well it had risen.

I mixed it with some more flour and water in a pint canning jar. Here you can see my cool top – a coffee filter lets out the carbon dioxide that the bacteria emit so the jar doesn’t explode.
So then I took the top off my bread baker and tried to oh-so-gently tilt the dough onto the bottom. It didn’t work very well, I made TOO much dough for the size baker I made, and so half of it hung over. When it did that, I couldn’t put the top back on so I baked it like that. 450 degrees and I didn’t time it… sorry! 🙂

Here it is, out of the oven!

And cut. It’s got a nice dense and somewhat sticky crumb like the rye I love. Flavor is great, though I shoulda put in more salt. Didn’t rise much, but that could have been due to the overhandling of it and also the fact that such a high percentage of it is rye. Rye flour on it’s own doesn’t rise well, so you always want to add wheat flour and if you have it, vital wheat gluten, to help it rise better.

But it was sure tasty! 🙂

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