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.


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!