Home Bread-Bakers v109.n017.1

Sourdough Binge Week

"Werner Gansz" <wwgansz@madriver.com>
Sun, 26 Apr 2009 18:03:14 -0400
This post is for those of you who, like me, only bake sourdough bread
occasionally.  Like most people who want to start making sourdough bread I
bought a starter once, enthusiastically refreshed it and baked sourdough
bread, often at first, then less and less, finally leaving the starter to
rot in the fridge for months at a time.  Despite long refreshment cycles
which eventually got some yeast activity back, it never smelled or acted
like "new" and was probably no longer the same starter that I bought.

I now start my sourdough from scratch during a "Sourdough Binge Week".  The
procedure below takes a week of calendar time and results in one loaf of
sour rye, two smaller loaves of San Francisco style wheat flour sourdough
and a batch of sourdough pancakes.  Most of the steps take 5 minutes.  Of
course you don't have to follow the whole process but the procedure below
shows how to reliably start a rye starter, convert it into a wheat flour
starter and then make a milk starter for pancakes.

Rye is one of the best flours for starting sourdough because the natural
yeast content is relatively high right from the start.  I have used stone
ground rye flour (Hodgson's here in the Northeast) as well as King Arthur
Pumpernickel flour.  Natural yeast is more sensitive to temperature than
commercial yeast.  The key to reliably building up a starter from scratch is
to not let it get cold.  In cold climates it is useful to find or create a
space that can be maintained at 78 to 82 Deg F for the full week.  Also, use
bottled water (spring and/or filtered, not distilled), at least during the
early stages of starting the sourdough but preferably all the time.  I use
it for all yeast baking all the time.

Rye Starter - Timeline assumes that you start in the evening of day 1, a

Day 1            Day 2             Day 3 & 4

                  Add               reduce by 1/2,

                                    then Add

1 c rye flour    1 c rye flour     1 c rye flour

3/4 c water      1/2 c water       1/2 c water

80 deg F         80 deg F          80 deg F

After the first 24 hours the starter will already be "airy" but will likely
have an unpleasant odor.  Stir it down, add Day 2's ingredients, water
first.  For days 3 & 4, reduce starter by half, add water, then flour.  The
starter should get more vigorous each day.   At the end of Day 5 you should
have 2 cups of active starter.  It should be frothy on the surface and smell
sweet and clean, even "wheaty" although there is no wheat in it.  It is
critical that the temperature remain at 80 deg F throughout.

It is the evening of Day 5;

Reserve 1/4 cup of starter, seal in a container and refrigerate overnight.
Use the rest to make the Sour Rye Dough.

Sour Rye Dough

1 3/4 to 2 cups active rye sourdough sponge, stirred down
1 cup 80 deg F water
1 Tb diastatic barley malt, available from any natural food store
1 Tb vegetable oil
4 cups bread flour
1 Tb sea salt
1 tsp Deli Rye Flavor, available from King Arthur Flour
3 Tb caraway seeds
1/4 tsp Vitamin C powder, available from any natural food store

Dilute the starter with the water, then mix in the remaining ingredients,
knead, cover and let the dough rise overnight, 7-8 hours, at 80 def F.

Bread flour is used here because rye flour contains no gluten.  It is just
dead weight in the dough and the extra gluten in bread flour gives the dough
some needed lift.  The Vitamin C powder also strengthens the gluten.

Morning of Day 6

In the morning, shape the sour rye dough into a boule and let it rise until
doubled, 4 to 5 hours, then bake at 425 deg F to an internal temperature of
205 deg F, approx. 30 - 40 minutes.

Also in the morning, start the wheat flour sourdough using the 1/4 cup of
reserved rye starter.  Remove the starter from the fridge, dissolve it in
1/4 cup 90 deg F water and let stand for 1 hour.

First Levain - makes a firm dough

1/4 cup active rye starter dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water and rested for 1
hour (discussed above)

1/2 c + 2 Tb all-purpose flour

Let rise at 80 deg F (6-7 hours)

Second Levain

Dissolve 1st levain in 3/4 cup 80 deg F water

2 cups all-purpose flour

Let rise at 80 deg F for 5 to 6 hours

It is now the evening of Day 6.

The Sour Rye was out of the oven around noon and is half eaten already.
Reserve 1/4 cup of the Second Levain for Sourdough Pancakes tomorrow

Wheat Flour Sourdough

(from Ortiz, the Village Baker, San Francisco Sourdough)

The 2nd levain (about 2 c) dissolved in 2 1/8 c room temp water

5 c all-purpose flour

1 Tb + 1 tsp sea salt

Mix, knead, cover and let rise at room temp (68-70 deg F) overnight (7-8

Mix the sponge for the pancakes and let it ferment overnight.

1/4 c reserved levain above

1 1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Morning of Day 7

Divide the dough in half, shape into 2 boules and let rise until doubled, 3
to 4 hours, then bake at 425 deg F to an internal temperature of 200-205 deg

For breakfast, mix the sourdough pancake batter

All of the sponge

3 Tb Vegetable Oil

2 Tb Sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp salt

Adjust with water or flour to desired consistency

For the 5 minutes of effort each weekday evening, you will be rewarded the
next weekend with two of the best tasting breads you have ever baked and a
great batch of Sunday Morning Sourdough Pancakes.  The taste is a complex
mixture of nutty caramelized flavors in the crust caused by the long
fermentations, a tangy rye flavor in the crumb (for the sour rye) and a
light sour flavor that stays in the background.  I don't save anything when
I'm done but you could refresh either of the 2 starters and bake more loaves
until your sourdough cravings are satisfied, then give it a rest.