The yeast (in bread) is not my best friend these days, so I decided to make sourdough, like I used to. I made the starter a couple weeks ago, and I’m really pleased. It picked up wild yeast from the air, pretty easily, and started fermenting. This is a picture of the starter.
I mixed 1 cup white whole wheat flour, 1 cup unbleached white flour (both organic), and 1 cup filtered water. I cleaned the inside edges of the bowl well, after I mixed the dough. I covered it with a bamboo mat, then with a clean cotton (non-terry) dishtowel (the bamboo mat just holds the towel up). After bubbles started forming on the surface, I knew I had an active starter. I left it sit for about 4 days, until it started to smell sour. If it had developed any off odors or mold, I would have to have started over. After the first day, I stirred it once a day to keep a skin from forming on top.
Next, I used a cup of the starter and made dough (recipe follows). Sourdough only takes patience and time, but not a lot of work. The dough should look pretty shaggy and slightly moist and tacky. And now I waited for it to form bubbles and double, anywhere from 8 to 24 hours normally. I just covered the bowl with a plastic bathing cap (I save them all from hotels!). Then I had to replenish the starter with a cup of flour and a half cup of filtered water, let it sit to start fermenting again, then put the starter in a jar and store it in the fridge, for the next time I make bread.
After it rose (about 8 hours), I scraped it into a well floured stainless steel bowl. Then I floured the top of the dough around the edges where it met the bowl. This is a picture after it’s risen and ready to bake.
Before you look at the picture of the finished loaf, I have to tell you a couple things. This was not my first attempt. My first attempt, I put the dough in a pastry cloth to let it rise. The dough got too tacky and stuck to the cloth, making a huge mess, and a very flat loaf of bread. So, I decided on the bowl method, which works well, however the finished bread has a soft crust. If you like soft crust, no need to change the method. I’m going to try for a more crusty loaf the next time. My next trial will include getting a large piece of parchment paper and wetting it, then taking the excess water out of the parchment, and lining the metal bowl with it, then placing the dough in the parchment to let it rise. (When you wet parchment, it makes it very pliable.) After the dough rises, and I have my pan preheated, I’ll lift the parchment and the dough out, and place it in the preheated pan to bake. And I’ll let you know how that turns out, wish me luck! Update: I tried it, and it’s a little crustier, and a whole lot easier to get out of the pan after baking, so I’ll keep using the parchment.