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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