Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wild Yeasted Sourdough Stoneground (mostly) Whole Wheat Bread

I have always wanted to be able to make wonderful, toothsome, crusty, chewy bread.  I've tried several different recipes and methods over the years, and have had very limited success with this endeavor, which discourages me from trying very often.

But with renewed ferver, I'm making bread, a la Michael Pollan's Cooked.  I located rye (in People's bulk department) and stoneground heirloom whole wheat flour (packaged and much more expensive than the bulk department). I've wild-caught yeast, which was almost instantaneously bubbly (raising my hopes for this attempt), mixed the leaven and soaked the flours (I'm using filtered water because San Diego water is highly suspect).  My leaven wasn't as active as it needed to be and sank (along with my hopes a bit) instead of floating in water, so I added commercial yeast (much to my chagrin) per his suggestion.  I've mixed leaven into flour mixture with sea salted-water and bulk fermented.

I love the sourdough smell of the starter!  I love the sourdough smell on my hands!  I love that he encourages mixing everything with your hands.

Shaped the dough into 2 loaves (wow, that's a sticky dough but not dissimilar to Grandma Robert's rolls, the only bread I've made well consistently and loved) and proofed for days (longer than intended) in the refrigerator.  Trying to get it out of the bowl and into the very hot dutch oven involved a lot of scraping.  And trying to get the beautifully baked loaf out of the dutch oven involved a lot of prying with various implements.  It did not escape unscathed; part of the bottom stuck to the dutch oven.  How does one prevent that from happening? [Answer: allow the dutch oven to preheat for 15-30 minutes at 500 degrees - then it's much easier to pop out]

But the bread was wonderful!  Crusty, chewy, toothsome, sour, whole-wheaty goodness!  I made really good (dare I say excellent?) bread!  True, it could have had more airlift but whole wheat is notoriously height-challenged.
And I have a problem with throwing away 80% of the starter every day; this is too wasteful.  Seems to me recipes of yore would use that portion of the starter as the leaven for the daily bread baking.  So I need to play a bit more with this recipe before I publish my own version (so for now, here's my recipe from previous attempts).  But I've never felt so encouraged!

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