It seems like I’ve been doing more baking than cooking lately so rather than post a recipe this time, I’d like to show off one of my latest baking successes.
I purchased a sourdough starter from King Arthur Flour quite a while ago and I’ve been maintaining it despite the fact that I took quite a long a break from baking with it. Sourdough is finicky sometimes (especially when you’re new to baking with it) and I became a little disheartened after my last attempt. Everything had been going well and I had turned out quite a few great loaves of sourdough so it was frustrating when I saw two days of work collapse into an unmanageable pile of goo after I accidentally let it proof too long after shaping. That was actually my second sourdough disaster. So, I decided I needed a little break from it. Fortunately, the break didn’t last too long because I started craving the stuff!
I brought my little sourdough starter crock out from the fridge, fed it a few times over the course of a couple days to make sure it was nice and happy, then made my dough. Usually I start by making a sponge, which increases the flavor of the bread and makes it “extra-sour” the way I like it. But this time, I followed a new recipe that uses twice as much starter and no sponge. I thought I’d try it and see how I liked a lighter-tasting bread.
Another change I made this time around was letting the bread rise in proofing baskets (ok, so I really used colanders…I don’t own any real proofing baskets) that I lined with floured kitchen towels. It worked pretty well except the towels stuck to the bread a little more than I would have liked. Next time, I’ll use more flour! But it was nice to let the basket shape the bread instead of dealing with trying to shape the super-soft, sticky dough into nice looking loaves myself. All I had to do was turn the proofed loaves out onto a piece of parchment paper on top of my peel and slide them right onto my baking stone.
The only real problem I had this time around was I let the oven get too hot and one of the loaves burned a little. They tasted great even though they weren’t quite as sour as normal. The crust was good and the crumb was nice and open…perfect for soaking up lots of butter!
Now that I’m feeling confident again, I’ll probably try to get in the habit of baking it once a week. I might not be able to eat it all myself but I can really use the practice and it’s not hard to find someone willing to take some fresh-baked bread off my hands!