Sourdough Bread

Sourdough

Who knew sourdough bread was so hard??? I’ve tried it about half a dozen times or more since the first time I tried it. The first time I tried it, it was flat. The second time the dough didn’t rise for some reason. One time it didn’t look very good but it had the right sour flavor. Then another time it looked great and had the right flavor but it was a little underdone. I’ve baked it in my dutch oven and on our baking stone, with varied results.

I keep trying and reading and trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. Recently I did another loaf and tried a different baking method. This is the method I used this time:

The result was pretty good. The rise was nice, there was a great color, the crust was crunchy, it was baked well (maybe slightly overdone) but not sour. UGH! So frustrating. But it did LOOK pretty:

I talked to a friend who does sourdough on the regular and she said that she puts the starter on her counter the day before and feeds it twice, once the morning before she makes it, then again that night. She said that will make it more sour. So next time, I’m going to try doing it that way and see what happens.

This week I tried again and did a few things differently. First, I weighed the flour when I made the dough and used grams instead of measuring cups. Second, I took my friend’s advice and took the starter out the day before, fed it twice and then made the dough the next morning. Third, I followed the new baking instructions.

The result was great! The bread was a little on the light side color-wise but the inside was fantastic! It was the best loaf I’ve made so far. It didn’t have a super strong sour flavor but the bread was light and airy and fluffy instead of being dense. I was really, really happy with the results.

For dinner, I made tomato bisque and we had the freshly baked bread with it. Fantastic!

On a similar note, I’ve been obsessed with the Great British Baking Show on Netflix. It never appealed to me but for some reason I saw a random episode of the new season and I decided to start at the beginning. I loved it! That first season was great and had some really good bakers.

I also love that you learn a lot from the show. They make stuff I’ve never heard of before and it’s interesting to see the methods. I also like that they do a bread episode each season! Listening to the judges critique the breads has been helpful for me recognizing some of the mistakes I’ve been making (not letting it proof long enough, not kneading it enough, etc). Also, it’s nice to watch the show while I wait for Top Chef to come back!

QUESTION: Are you a sourdough baker? Any tips or favorite recipes?

A Day of Baking

After the gym on Saturday Michael and I went to our friend’s house for the day. The boys went off and did boy things and I learned how to bake bread from Kat. It was so much fun!

On The Menu:

Sourdough Herb Bread

Banana Nut Bread

Baked Squash Mac n’ Cheese

I won’t give instructions on how we made the bread because it was my first time and I hardly think I’m qualified. But I took a bunch of photos of some of the steps.

Sugar and Yeast

Kat already a sourdough starter going. She used that to make the Herbed Sourdough Bread and the Banana Walnut bread. She melted the butter in the milk and then waited for it to cool before pouring in the sugar and yeast. Apparently you don’t want it to cool too much (or be too hot) because either direction will kill the yeast. It sounds complicated to me, and I’m guessing that was the part of the equation I always got wrong when I tried to make my own bread in the past.

She blended in the sugar, yeast, spices and starter.

Next, everything went into the mixer and my job was to slowly add the flour.

Time to wait. While we waited for the sourdough bread to rise, we started dinner. She had a recipe for Squash Mac n’ Cheese. First step: cutting the squash and then baking it.

I don’t remember what kind of squashes we used–I just brought over a couple of random ones I had picked up at the store.

While the squash was baking, she cooked the pasta for the mac n’ cheese, I chopped the fresh thyme, grated cheese and she chopped onions. There were a lot of things going on all at once.

The next step was to make a puree of the squash. I scooped out the squash meat and she mixed it in the blender with sour cream and butter. It was creamy and sweet.

She boiled the half n’ half, butter and herbs in a pot and then slowly added the squash puree.

Kat added different spices and tasted the sauce. Salt, pepper, cayenne. basil and I think oregano. It was a mild flavor. Next in was the shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese. It melted into a creamy sauce. Mix in the  cooked pasta and then pour into a buttered dish.

Top with breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes!

Earlier we’d made a Banana Walnut Bread.

We both agreed the best variation was the Spice Bread–allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon. It made the kitchen smell so good!

The Banana Bread turned out fantastic. The whole kitchen smelled warm and gooey, like Christmas and a decadent bakery all in one.

We had to try the Banana Bread immediately out of the oven because it smelled so wonderful. The butter melted immediately and it divine.

It was probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten. 🙂

By that time, the sourdough had risen and Kat instructed me on how to knead the bread and get the air bubbles out.

Then I divided the dough into two loaves.

The bread baked for 35-40 minutes until golden on top. Kat immediately rubbed a stick of butter on top of the baked bread loaves to keep them from drying out.

Dinner was ready too. The mac n’cheese was delicious; cheesy and crunchy at the same time. I liked it a lot, even though the squash was really mild.

It was so much fun spending the day in the kitchen with Kat. Baking is something I always loved to do because it made the kitchen smell so great and there’s nothing better than eating the freshly-out-of-the-oven creation. I really want to try and make my own bread now!

QUESTION: Have you made your own bread? What kind did you make and how did it turn out?