Monday, February 19, 2007

Sourdough Whole Wheat

Yesterday, I made the loaf with the sour I mentioned in the last entry. I started in on Thursday and fed it through Saturday night. There wasn't much activity for nearly three days, but then, when I went to bed on Saturday, I put the sour in the oven with the light on. About seven hours later, it had grown by a third, so I was relieved. I had a quart of sour in the end, to which I added an unknown amount of flour and kneaded it before heading to church.

The sour had been started with about a quarter cup of whole rye, but I used whole wheat after that. I don't think I used enough flour when making the bread, because it was awfully wet still (although not that bad, just on the wet side of a good dough). I think I should have saved some of the sour rather than using it all. I really only needed a couple cups.

I let the bread rise while I was at church, and then for a few hours more. I then flattened it out on a baking sheet greased with bacon grease (bakin' grease?), rolled it into a log, and let it rise while the oven heated to 425F. I also placed a bowl of boiling water in the oven to steam it up (actually, Peter did most of that because he was baking a loaf, too.

Since I'd punched down the dough when I formed the log, and the sour culture was slow acting, and the dough was wet, the preheating time for the oven did not allow the loaf to reach its full size. Consequently, the loaf was very dense, and the side split in the oven from a large secondary rise.

So, lessons: use less sour for a single loaf, let it rise a long time before placing in the oven, use more flour (or otherwise make a drier dough).

Improvements from previous loaves: the dough was not too dry, I didn't have to use commercial yeast, there was hardly any rye flavor.

As to the loaf itself, it was incredible. I didn't expect it to taste as it does. It has a strong whole wheat flavor, but there is a strong sourness as well. It's a strange flavor, but good.

A few things to keep in mind next time: a little more salt, some oil (there was none and I don't know if the bread would have been better with it), the addition of honey to the sour, a longer final rise time for a sourdough, less sour or more flour (in the second case, make two loaves). Also, I'm tired of putting water in the oven. I want to make a loaf without steam next. Maybe I should try only one or two of these changes. I'll be thinking of what my next loaf will be. I'm seriously considering a, well, I'll let you know later.

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