Week 75: Farmhouse Sourdough

My oh my, I don’t think a bread can get much better than this! I adapted it from Ken Forkish’s Pain au Bacon recipe in Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast, one of my all time favorite bread making cookbooks (see all my favorites here). After ditching a successful 20-year tech career, he opened up Ken’s Artisan Pizza and Ken’s Artisan Bakery in Portland, OR. and hasn’t looked back. He’s got quite a lot of video instructions for pizza and bread making on his website that every aspiring baker should view.

Step 1: Make the levain

  • 25g active starter
  • 100g white flour
  • 25g whole wheat
  • 100g warm water (85-90 degrees)
  1. Mix the starter, flours and water until incorporated.
  2. Cover, and let rest 9~10 hours.

Step 2: Prep bacon

  • 1/2 lb bacon
  1. Chop bacon into small pieces, and fry until nice and crisp
  2. Drain on paper towels
  3. Reserve 1 Tbsp bacon grease

Step 3: Make the autolyse

  • 432g white flour
  • 8g whole wheat
  • 342g warm water (85-90 degrees)
  1. Mix the flours and water together in a large bowl until incorporated
  2. Cover, and let rest for 30 minutes
  • 10g salt
  1. Sprinkle the salt onto the top of the dough and fold it in.

Step 4: Make dough

  • Levain
  • Autolyse
  • Bacon
  • Bacon fat
  1. Add the levain to the autolyse and use the pincer method to mix it in. See Ken demonstrating this method in the “Mixing By Hand” video here.
  2. Let rest, then spread the bacon fat over the top, and sprinkle the bacon over that.
  3. Mix again with the pincer method.

Step 5: Proof and knead

  1. The dough needs to rest for about 2 hours. Knead the dough using the stretch & fold method every 30 minutes. See the “Kneading during Proofing” videos on the Video page.

Step 6: Shape dough

  1. Gently remove dough onto a floured countertop, using a dough scraper.
  2. Dust flour around the perimeter, then lift sides just a bit and scoot the flour under.
  3. Lift sides up, then over to form a circular shape and tighten it up a bit.
  1. Flip over and push sides down and under with cupped hands to make the surface taught. See “Shaping” video on the Video page.
  2. Dust a proofing basket, or a tea towel placed in a bowl with a generous amount of flour.
  3. Gently lift than lower the dough into the basket, seam side down.
  4. Cover and proof about 3-1/2 to 4 hours.
  5. Cut a sling out of parchment paper to use for lowering the dough into your baking receptacle.
  1. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees, and place a Dutch oven with lid (or any heavy pot that has a lid) inside to heat up as well.

Step 7: Bake

  1. When dough is proofed, place the paper sling on top of the basket/bowl, then a cutting board on top of that.
  2. Carefully invert so the dough is on the cutting board, and out of the container.
  3. Remove the Dutch oven/pot from the oven, remove lid, and carefully place dough inside.
  4. Replace the lid, then return the Dutch oven/pot back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes
  5. Uncover, reduce heat to 450, and bake for 30 minutes more, until it’s a medium dark brown.
  6. Let cool on a rack before slicing.

Week 59: French Sourdough

FRANCE: Pain de Campagne is a multi-grain French sourdough, made with white, whole wheat and rye flours. Back in the day, French villagers would bake very large loaves in communal ovens, which could feed the family for weeks. Some say scoring was a way to identify your loaf.

This recipe follows Maura Brickman’s method for Pain de Campagne introduced on King Arthur’s website (see video link below) whereby you can use your starter straight from the fridge. You don’t have to feed it the night before, and you don’t have to create a levain with an active starter. This removes two steps from a very long process.

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Week 58: Same Day Sourdough

Baking a sourdough loaf is a two-day affair, because there are so many stages in the prepping and proofing. I set out to find if it was possible to a.) make a loaf in one day, and b.) be 100% satisfied with the result. And, I’m here to tell you that there is! This is a method for baking a sourdough loaf with no overnight rise, and if you get started early enough, (8:00 AM) you’ll have a warm loaf to bring to the dinner table.

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Week 57: Sour Sourdough

Sourdough not sour enough? Try this shorter, less complicated method of making sourdough, that gets a sour boost from citric acid, which is what’s produced as your starter matures. It’s got a nice rise, sturdy crisp crust, and a chewy interior. It doesn’t have the extreme open crumb, but honestly, I find that annoying if I’m trying to make a sandwich, so that suits me just fine. I used all bread flour, but you can substitute some rye and/or whole wheat (see ratios below for a Pain de Campagne) without any adverse effects. My starter is made with rye flour, so there is already some whole grain mixed in.

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Week 56: Sourdough

If you do a Google search for sourdough recipes, you’ll get 25,600,000 results. There is a ton of information — and misinformation — to sift through. I tested five different methods and this version, from Full Proof Baking’s Kristen Dennis was the clear winner. Although it is time consuming, and a little tricky, the instructions are very detailed and the steps are demonstrated on the video, linked below. This is an all day affair — a perfect loaf for #bakingwhileworking.

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Week 55: “Sourdough” Starter

The word “Sourdough” is in quotes because the name is a total misnomer. This is a wild yeast starter, and not all breads made with this non-commerical yeast are always sour. Using this type of starter (also known as a levain) doesn’t equate to making a sourdough loaf, and it’s often used to make all sorts of baked goods, such as pancakes, brownies, etc.

When you let a mixture of flour and water sit, the wild yeast that naturally occurs in flour (it’s actually everywhere) starts to grow by eating, i.e. metabolizing, the starches/sugar, producing lactic acid. This gives it a tangy taste. Bacteria then feeds off the yeast’s waste, producing acidic acid, which is what makes it sour. While all this is happening, it’s considered live, and the mixture gets bubbley and rises. Once everything’s consumed, it falls and is dormant until the next feeding. So that you don’t end up with a massive amount of starter, you throw some away just before each feeding, and then add some fresh water and flour to the remainder, thereby keeping a consistent amount.

You can actually purchase starters on line, if you want guaranteed success. And the 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Preservation Society will send you one for free. Yes, it’s been around for that long!

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