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Friday, August 13, 2010

Everyday Bread #58 - An Experimental No Knead Sourdough

Fresh on the heels of a couple of other no-knead loaves (Myrtle Allen's Brown Bread, Wolter & Teubner's Wheat Germ Bread), and because I am always looking for things to do with my sourdough discard, I thought I would try a simple experiment.

This uses a 3 day build with spent sourdough.  I was working nights so couldn't really attend to my dough, but I figured I would use up some of the sourdough that was really too old to use and ought to have been discarded by conducting a little no-knead experiment.

First of all, let me say that my sourdough is about 75% hydration (so that I can make Reinhart's loaves in his Whole Grain Breads book), and I usually refresh it about 2x/week.  But we had returned from our camping holiday a week ago, so this sourdough, although it had been in the fridge, was almost 3 weeks old.  I knew it was going to be very sour, but I wanted to see what would happen.

Day 1:

  • 1/4 c spent old motherstarter  66 g
  • 1/3 c water 76 g
  • 1 c ww flour 146 g

Method:  Pour the water on the spent motherstarter and stir until it is a nice even slurry.  Add the flour and stir until the flour is all hydrated.  Cover and set aside for a day.

Day 2:

  • all of yesterday's mix
  • 1/2 c water 117 g
  • 1 c ww flour 146 g

Method: pour the water on the mix and stir until it is a nice even slurry.  Add the flour and stir until the flour is all hydrated.  Cover and set aside for a day.

Note: this was pretty active, and doubled in less than 4 hours, but I left it out for an entire day anyway.

Day 3:

  • all of yesterday's mix ( 531 g)
  • 1 tsp salt (3 g kosher)
  • 2 c wwflour 210 g
  • 1 c water 244 g

Method: pour the water on the mix and stir until it is a nice even slurry.  Add the flour and salt and stir until the flour is all hydrated.  Cover and set aside until doubled.

Note: I transferred the dough to a larger container thinking it might on this build overflow, otherwise.  But this was not as active as the other day.  Still, it had doubled in 6 hours and I used it in 12 hours.  I calculated this dough to be about 87% hydration, and I wasn't going to knead it.  I just poured it from the container into an oiled tin and hoped it would rise.  I sprinkled a tiny bit of flour on the top of the dough after I had pushed it down into the tin.  And I also tossed a few sunflower seeds on top.

I was hoping this would rise again, but after checking on it every 30 minutes for an hour and a half, I didn't see a whole lot happening.  I waited another hour, and I guess it had expanded a tiny bit, but it certainly had not doubled.  Maybe it had risen a third, I don't know. 

(The camera settings were bad for the shot of the proofed or risen dough,
so I have had to try to brighten up the image; it looks baked, but it isn't yet):

But I preheated the oven to 425 and put the loaf in for 40 minutes.  The last 5 minutes were baked out of the tin, to crisp the crust.  That worked well. In fact, I am extremely pleased with the crust. And the crumb isn't all that bad. It is not as dense as I was afraid it would be.

This was a very sour loaf. Very sour smell, to me (although my wife and her friend entered the house an hour later and said that it smelled fine, like cake), when it was baking and cooling. The loaf when it is cut, is very sour too.

I think it tastes fine. It does have a sour bite to it, but I like that. I'm pretty sure it is one that my wife will not like. Too sour for her. This bread would have to be an acquired taste for most people, I think.

I am not sure, but I think that on day 2, the yeast were winning, but after that the lactobacillus bacteria in the sourdough took over, and this bacteria did most of the actual leavening of the loaf. And they are responsible for the exceedingly sour note of this bread.

Notes to Myself
  • What if you added a little bit of sweet stuff during one of these builds, like the other no-knead breads had? If you gave the loaf some sweet stuff (honey, molasses, or brown sugar, for example), do you think that the yeast would win out over the lactobacillus and there would be even more rise? Would it be substantially less sour, in that case? Try it once and see.
  • Try sprinkling the top with some flour after the 2 1/2 hours of the last proofing is done, i.e. just before putting the loaf into the oven.
  • If you were to incorporate some seeds into the dough itself, when would be the best time to put them in? During the Day 3 mixing, or when pouring it into the tin?
  • Can you pour this into the tin in layers? Think layer cake: what would you put in between 2 layers of this sour bread? What if you mixed a layer of blue cheese dough? With walnuts? Hmmm, that might be interesting.

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