"Berkeley" Sourdough… District-Style

Not too shabby for loaf #1!
Since cultivating my own sourdough starter I’ve learned a lot about starters in general. For one thing, “starter” is a term used pretty loosely to refer to a fermented mix used to make bread, so the actual texture of the thing itself can be quite liquid or more on the stiff side, like mine. Yet again, here is proof that words come to mean different things when spoken by different people, and this is why I try to take the most relaxed approach to cooking and baking. I’m a big proponent of food-making being fun and uncomplicated, and that anyone who wants to can and should do it. I’m not trying to sell food, just enjoy the process of making it as well as the process of eating it!

Was this loaf perfect? Maybe not, but it sure tasted way better than all the debates and comments posted on various sourdough-crazed websites led me to believe it would be! They were all “I’ve killed off so many starters” or “my first loaf didn’t taste like anything.” Well let me tell you, mine was just as tangy as I like my sourdough, the crust was crispy, and the crumb (that’s the inside part of the bread) was just soft enough to soak up the right amount of butter. Next time I’ll be braver and let the loaf bake until it takes on the lovely reddish-golden hue of classic sourdough. And I’ll dip it in some salted olive oil.

FYI: Sourdough bread takes some planning in advance — this will take about 3 days to make. Again, most of that time is just waiting… but it’s worth it!

“Berkeley” Sourdough Bread, Made in the District 
Adapted from The Science of Cooking
To create the starter for this bread you need:
a tangerine-sized piece of your starter, kept at room temperature for 6-8 hours
2 cups warm water
2 cups unbleached flour 
For the dough: 
2.5 cups unbleached flour
1.5 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup starter that results from the above
3/4 cup cool water
1. In a medium-sized bowl, dilute the tangerine-sized starter in the the 2 cups of warm water, and add in the 2 cups of flour.  Cover loosely and leave in a warm spot for 18-24 hours, until very bubbly.
2. The next day: In a large bowl mix together 2.5 cups flour, the salt, and 3/4 cups of the starter from the previous step (you can save the remainder for other sourdough projects). Add the water and mix in the bowl with a wooden spoon until you form a ball.
3. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead the dough to combine and form into a ball.
4. Place your dough-ball in a lightly-oiled bowl and leave in the fridge, covered, for 12-15 hours to rise. Once risen, leave at room temperature for 2 hours to warm up.
5. Divide dough into two loaves, form into baguettes (in my case, I formed them into flatter, wider loaves as an experiment), and place on a baking tray to rise for 6-7 hours (it was getting late when I made mine, so I only waited 5 hours).
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Using a sharp, serrated knife, slash the tops of the loaves a few times to aid in expansion. Since I don’t have a spray bottle, I used my pastry brush to sprinkle some water on the tops of the loaves.
7. Place loaves in oven and either spray them again (if you have a spray bottle) or mist them again using the brush. Splash a bit inside the oven as well (just a bit!) to create steam. It helps give a nice crust while allowing the bread to rise. Repeat about 5 minutes into baking.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until completely golden. Schmear with butter or other goodness.
 Buttery sourdough. Mmmmm….
This entry was published on June 4, 2010 at 7:08 pm. It’s filed under bread and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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