Monday, November 5, 2007

Second time's the charm

This past week, while I was perusing 200+ blogs detailing Daring feats of Bostini baking, I ran across a recipe for No Knead Sourdough Bread. For the life of me I can’t remember which blog led me in that direction, but I did have the presence of mind to print a copy.

Since I have starter (Henry) that needs love and attention now and then, I decided it was worth a try. It’s really a 24 hour process, so planning ahead is essential.

Round 1

At 10 pm on Friday night, I mixed the dough ingredients together, placed the dough into a bowl, and the bowl on the counter for the 18 hour rise. Now, I was just a wee bit skeptical, since there was no yeast added to the mixture and I wasn’t sure how Henry would actually perform since he is generally a quiet type. Oh, and I halved the recipe in case it turned into a disaster

Well, to my surprise and amazement, 18 hours later the dough was bubbly and had risen satisfactorily. I scooped it out onto the bread board and waited 15 minutes.

In the meantime I tried to decide which container would be the best for baking. I don’t have a dutch oven or much that is metallic, so I settled on a 3 quart Corning ware saucepan with lid. After time was called, I gathered up the dough and plopped it into the pan as the recipe instructed.

Then, it was left to rise again for 4 hours.

Now it was ready for baking and placed into a cold oven with the temperature set for 450 degrees and the timer set for 70 minutes. I walked away.

Well, not every experiment succeeds, you know.

It wasn’t exactly a failure – it was a learning experience. As is said, every failure gives you the information you need for success, and I figured I’d be really successful the next time.

Issue 1: a 3-quart pan was too large for half a recipe.

Issue 2: there was no instruction to grease the pan, so the bread had to be chiseled out.

Issue 3: 70 minutes at 450 was waaaaay too long, especially when I was distracted and didn’t watch carefully. Burnt bread.

On the postive side, after tearing out hunks of unburnt bread for examination, I discovered that the texture was good, nice and open, and that the taste was fine with a nice sour tang. So, not to be outdone by a loaf of bread, I went to

Round 2


This time I calculated back from when I wanted to actually eat the bread (dinner tonight) so began the assembly process at 5 pm on Sunday evening. Since Henry had been rejuvenated in the meantime and since I knew the dough would perform as expected, I was confident about that part of the process.

I gave more thought to the container and this time chose a 1 quart Corning ware pan with lid. And I greased it.

At the 18-hour mark, this morning, I removed the dough from the bowl, let it rest 15 minutes, then gently scooped it into a roundish form and plopped it into the smaller, greased container. Another 4 hours of rising ensued. Then, I once again placed the bread into the cold oven, set the temperature for 450 degrees and the timer for 45 minutes. And, I kept an eye on it. All went well. I removed the lid with 12 minutes to to, and added an extra 5 minutes so the top could turn nice and golden.



I ended up with a nice small loaf of sourdough bread that had a pleasant sour taste, open texture and chewy crust. Next time I will try the full recipe. And I'll have to figure out how to keep the camera flash from whiting out the photo.

2 comments:

Deborah said...

I've never made sourdough before, but I've always wanted to try. When I do, I'll have to remember your mistakes the first time around. Your second loaf looks wonderful!

Meredith said...

Camera tip: no flash, use natural light instead. Learned this one the hard way. See ya tomorrow!