Sunday, March 13, 2016

Soft, Light Sourdough Yeasted Loaf!

A while ago I mentioned finally figuring out a perfect sourdough recipe. To me this meant plenty of sourdough flavour, less than half white flour, but still soft, light, and sandwich-worthy.  It took many, many attempts to get something that worked but finally the experimentation paid off and I can consistently make a pretty brag-worthy loaf.  And I knead it in a bread-maker, so the hands-on time is pretty minimal overall (though you do need to be home for at least a half-day to tend to it between risings).

I find it works well even if my sourdough starter has been neglected for a few weeks (though definitely does rise faster if it's been fed recently).  I start by mixing 90g of (50/50) starter with 100g whole wheat flour, 50g white flour, 50g rye flour, and 200g water to essentially make a large bowl of 50/50 starter.  I let it sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours, 24 is better.  After that it will be bubbly and ready to make the dough.

The dough is simple, but has a few extra ingredients beyond typical water/flour/salt/yeast, to increase the lightness of what could become a heavy loaf.  To the starter I add 150g of white flour, 100g wheat flour, 10g vital wheat gluten (to improve the structure since I am using so much wheat flour), 10g salt, 10g cocoa (sometimes, to add some flavour and make a nice brown colour), a scoop or two of extra grains if I feel like it (I'll often add flax or chia), about 1.5 tsp yeast, and 100g milk.

Toss that into the breadmaker, let it knead, and unplug.  Depending on the starter activity and type of yeast used (instant makes for a faster rise), it will need to rise from 2-4 hours to double in bulk.

Then it goes into a loaf pan for the second rise, which usually takes 1-2 hours.  I had, and still get, many ripped loaves due to under-proofing so it's important to let it rise well above the edge of the pan before putting it in the oven.

Then it goes into the oven, 375F for 35 minutes.  Out comes a perfect loaf of bread, made more perfect if it is left to cool out in the open overnight to develop an extra-crisp crust. It stays fresh for 3-4 days before starting to get a bit stale, at which time I slice the remaining loaf and freeze it.

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