Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More Dutch Oven Sourdough Bread

My sister is the greatest. Every year, when we get together for Christmas, she gets each of us a gift that's well-thought out. I'm always amazed.

This year, she got me two presents that were really great. One was a book, called “The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread”. Another was a tiny little bit of sourdough start. I was really excited. I've started reading the book, but I haven't gotten too deep into it, but I wanted to use this start before I went and killed it or something. I used a basic bread recipe from "The Baking Book" by LLoyd Mexon, but tweaked it a little bit. I'd read that milk can make bread a bit fluffier, and that the lactobacillus in yogurt enhances the flavor of sourdough bread, too, so I thought I'd try that as well. Anyway, here goes...

Dutch Oven Sourdough Bread with Milk, Honey and Yogurt

12” Dutch OvenEnough coals to do 400°

Step one: Waking the start
  • ½ cup warm (not hot) water
  • ½ cup flour
  • A small pinch of sourdough start from a previous batch
Step two: The Sponge

  • 1 cup sourdough start
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1-2 cups flour
  • 1 tablet of vitamin C

Step three: The Dough

  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 1 Cup yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • A lot more flour

So, since I only had a little pinch of sourdough start from my sister, my first step was to make some more. Since it had been in the fridge, I didn't want to blast it with hot water, so, I just mixed the water and flour together and the stirred and blended in the pinch of start. Actually, I didn't want to use it all, because if it didn't work, I didn't want to lose the start. So, I guess I only used a half a pinch. Sue me.

This was late the night before. I set that aside in a bowl to grow. When I woke up in the morning, it was a frothy and bubbly goo.

Then, I made the sponge. That was basically just adding more water and flour. Pretty simple. I did have some extra start, which I set aside in a baggie in the fridge next to the original pinch (now a half pinch) of start that my sister gave me. I took a small tablet of vitamin C and ground it up under a spoon. That got mixed in. I've read (and seen) that a bit of vitamin C can accelerate yeast growth. Where wild yeast always takes longer to ferment, I occasionally like to encourage it.

So, with this now set aside, I pulled out the milk and the yogurt from the next set of ingredients, mixed them and set them aside to get to room temperature.

A few hours later (about 4, actually), the sponge looked like it had doubled in bulk. So, it was time to mix the dough. I started by adding a cup off flour and all the other ingredients there in step three. I stirred that all up in the bowl, and it made a pretty loose and runny dough. I put a lot of flour (about a half cup or so) onto my kitchen counter top and dumped the dough out onto it. Then, I started kneading and flouring, kneading and flouring, over and over, until the dough stopped being so sticky and started feeling like a smooth dough. Then I kneaded a bit more beyond that.

Then I shaped it into a ball, sprayed it with oil and put it aside in a bowl. It took about another 4-5 hours to raise to double the bulk.

At that point, I punched it down, and reshaped it into a ball again. I was surprised that it was still bigger than I expected. I set it in the dutch oven, and made three smooth slices in the top. I set that aside to proof. The book said to only let it proof for 20 minutes. I was a bit skeptical. In the end, it took almost forty minutes to get the coals hot enough.

I set it out on the coals. It was a quite a lot of them, to get to 400 in the cold December air. Between the cold and heating up the dutch oven, it took a little over an hour to cook. I used a quick read thermometer to check the internal temperature, which should be up to 190 or so.
When it was all done, I sliced it up and served it to our visitors. Even the lady that swore she didn't like sourdough bread recipes loved it. Of course, it didn't really have a harsh sourness. It was there, but not as edgy. It wasn't a “San Francisco” kinda sour.

Still a delicious sourdough bread, though.

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