So I sort of jumped on the sourdough bandwagon a while back but it’s truthfully something I’ve been wanting to work on forever. I used to do the whole Amish friendship bread thing but after a while it got overwhelming and old. Daughter one tried to create a starter about a year ago after getting hooked on the Great British Baking championship and wanted to try Paul Hollywood’s recipe. It was an abysmal failure and I’ve been itching to see how I could do. We do love a good loaf of sourdough bread and I even prefer sourdough English muffins so I don’t think our starter will be wasted.
So with yeast disappearing off the shelves like crazy and being inundated with recipe after recipe of the “best” sourdough bread, I took the plunge.
My starter is dated mid April and I’ve made about 9-10 loaves already. I used the King Arthur Flour starter recipe and am quite pleased with how it turned out. My starter is actually pretty subtle and not all that tart and tangy. I actually would like a bit more tang but my grandson wouldn’t eat it if it did.
Most of the recipes on the King Arthur site actually called for yeast. Well that’s not really what I wanted. I wanted a nice artisan loaf like you find in the bakery. I finally settled on a great recipe from Homemade Food Junkie. The crust is crisp and the crumb is soft and chewy, just the way it should be. It may not have as many huge air holes as some you see, but truthfully I like that. If I’m eating a sandwich I don’t want huge holes in my bread. I gave a loaf to my son and he said his girlfriend made the best French toast with it. I haven’t tried that yet, it doesn’t last long enough.
Beware, the recipe seems pretty intimidating because it is so long and there are so many steps and it takes two days to make a good loaf of bread. But believe me it is so worth it. I have made bread three or four times now and not a single loaf turned out bad. They actually keep getting better because I’m getting the steps down to a fine art form now.
I don’t have any special equipment and there’s no need to go out and buy it if you don’t want. Will it make your life easier? Maybe. But unless you are making bread several times a week I don’t think it’s necessary. I simply use a couple of medium sized glass or ceramic bowls with tea towels or flour sack dish towels to line the bowls. A really sharp knife or kitchen shears are all that is necessary to cut the slashes in the top of the bread.
I do suggest getting a Dutch oven if you don’t have one. It’s what I’ve been using and I think it gives the best results. I’ve tried cookie sheets with parchment and a steam bath and it just doesn’t seem to turn out quite as nice as the loaves made in the Dutch oven. You can always use the Dutch oven for a zillion other things as well, it’s not a uni-tasker that’s for sure.
Follow the recipe exactly and you’ll have a perfect loaf of bread every time. It really does taste better if you take the long way and make it over two days. It’s just an overnight in the refrigerator and a couple more hours after you form the loaves.
My daughter loves the bakery rosemary loaves so I decided to give it a go. I’m sure there are recipes for different flavor combinations but I didn’t bother looking. I figured the best time to add herbs or other flavors was at the same time you add the salt. Basically after the initial rest period and right before the countless folding. I used my favorite Pampered Chef Rosemary Herb Seasoning mix. It has a combination of rosemary, thyme, lemon and a few other spices. After slowly incorporating the salt and seasoning the dough smelled amazing. I thought it smelled like a pizzeria for some reason. I honestly didn’t measure, sorry. I sprinkled about 2 teaspoons in it first, but after working the seasoning through the dough I decided it needed a bit more. Maybe a total of 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons was used. After eating it I thought it might benefit from just another teaspoon or so more to really taste the rosemary seasoning. Fresh rosemary would probably be even better so next time I’ll have to remember to go out to the garden and get some. You would think by this time I would remember I have fresh herbs growing in the back yard and don’t need to use dried ones all the time.
The bread turned out absolutely fantastic! I lightly toasted it and had a tuna sandwich with it. We had plain old buttered bread with dinner one night. My grandson gobbled that up like crazy and wanted to know why I didn’t serve bread with dinner all the time. Hmmm, guess I need to keep that in mind. I remember having butter and bread on the table for dinner while growing up but I got rid of that habit long ago. I think my mom did it to help fill us up. Feeding six people on pennies couldn’t have been easy for her.
If you have been looking for a trustworthy and good sourdough bread recipe then this is the one for you. I stumbled upon her via The Pioneer Woman’s blog. I tried that recipe first and it just didn’t work out nearly as well. Honestly I’m not sure why one worked better than the other because they were both pretty much the same just a few procedural tweaks. Crazy, I know.
Next I’m going to try roasting garlic and making a garlic herb bread to eat and have it with some homemade lasagna.