Sourdough Country Bread

Valentine’s Day special series – Sourdough Country Bread.

I love breads, I love baking them, I love eating them. Since my run in with the process of making of a Sourdough, I am totally in love with it. I feel the earthy, old school feel to it, is pure pleasure. And don’t get me started on the flavor. The best bread you will ever taste. It has its own distinct flavor profile, which you will not get in any regular commercial yeast leaven breads made from just flour and water. That is the beauty of sourdough bread. It is made from just flour, water, salt and obviously the sourdough starter. But the result is just mind blowing.

But as the Sourdough Bread has its own beauty and flavor. It has also has its own mind and mood. It is a very technical bread. The method though seem to the point, is a bit complex in the beginning, but once you get a hang of it. You will get better. Don’t be upset or give up if it doesn’t come out perfect the first time, or the second or the third, you will have to be patient with this bread, with the starter, with the whole process. It is time consuming but the results are worth it.

Firstly to even begin planning the bread, you will need a sourdough starter, for which the recipe is here.

Secondly, I will be doing a Tartine Bakery inspired Country Loaf. The method is called a wet dough method where the hydration of the dough is 75%. This bread has a great depth of flavor and you use your leaven at a younger stage where it still on the milky smelling side and not reached the sour smelling stage.

Third – After going through the recipe, go on YouTube and search for Tartine Country Loaf and see as many videos as you can. There is no point of me posting pictures of the method, because the videos will make more sense. They help a lot. But don’t just see one, see as many as you can.

Fourth – you will need a dutch oven to get the perfect loaf, unless your oven has an option of infusing steam while baking. Dutch oven will create the perfect steam, which in turn will create the perfect crust. If you are really interested in baking bread regularly buy a banneton for the final proofing of the bread. It gives it the perfect shape, the rustic look and it is a good investment.

Now finally the recipe  –

img_20170125_203938_837

 

Ingredients –

  • 450 grams all purpose flour
  • 50 grams whole wheat flour
  • 350 grams water
  • 100 grams leaven
  • 10 grams salt
  • 25 grams water

Method –

Start the leaven –

  • One day before the making the dough, discard 85% of the starter, the recipe says you need only one tablespoon for the leaven but mine is usually more than that. Feed your starter 70 grams all purpose flour, 30 grams whole wheat flour and 100 grams water. And set it aside for at least 7 – 10 hours. Ideally do it in the night, so the leaven will be ready to use in the morning. You also need to see take the weather in mind. If you are living in Mumbai, like me, where it is usually hot. During the summer it will only take about 4 to 5 hours for the leaven to be ready to use. Hot weather means faster yeast activity.
  • To check if its ready – It should have risen from its initial stage. It should smell milky and not sour and vinegar-y. If it smells sour feed it again and use it after 2 -3 hours.  For the final check, take a spoonful of starter and drop it in a bowl of water, if it floats its ready and if it drowns, then its not.

Dough – 

  • If all the things check out and your leaven is ready to use. You prep for the dough.
  • In a bowl weigh the 360 grams of water and add the leaven. The remaining leaven is your starter now, don’t discard it, continue feeding it.
  • Mix the leaven in the water till its partially dissolved.
  • Add the flours, and mix it with hand till there is no dry flour remaining. Cover it  with a kitchen towel and leave it for 30 minutes. This is called the autolyse period, basically good time to increase the gluten development.
  • After 30 minutes – add salt and 25 grams of water. Mix by pinching the dough between your fingers. Keep mixing and pinching till it forms a nice dough. Remember it will be wet and sticky as its a wet dough.
  • Now we do the SF – stretch and fold. Transfer the dough in a separate bowl, wet your hands, and pick the dough from one side and stretch it (softly) and fold it on the other side. So it should be a total of four SFs on all four sides. That will be one turn. Cover and let it rest.
  • Bulk Fermentation – For the next 4 hours, keep doing the SFs every 30 minutes one full turn each time. As the time will progress you will see the dough getting smoother, stretchy and tighter, showing the development of gluten and gas in the dough. If the dough is till loose, continue it for one more hour.
  • After 4 hours, transfer the dough on a clean surface/counter. Do not flour it before. After the dough is on the counter. Sprinkle some flour on the top of the dough and with a dough scraper lift the dough and put the flour side down.
  • Sprinkle flour on top and around the dough. With the help of the dough scraper, shape the dough in to a tight round by taking the scraper and pulling the dough towards you from down. Same time twisting it and making it into a round with your hand. (Hence the video for reference).
  • Do it a few times and don’t over do it, or else the top of the dough will tear. You will have to the shaping all over again.
  • Bench Rest – Cover and rest for 30 minutes to give the gluten some rest.
  • After 30 minutes your dough should be thick like a pancake especially from the edges, then its ready to shape. If it is flat and tapered from the edges, re – shape it one more time and give it a 30 minute bench rest.
  • Generously dust flour in the banneton.
  • For the final proofing – sprinkle flour on top of the dough and invert flour side down. That will be the top of the bread. Now shape it according to your banneton, mine is oval, so flatten the dough a little in to a rectangle. Make sure you don’t flatten it a lot or all the air will escape.
  • Stretch the sides of the lower part of the dough which is towards you. Roll the top, pinching the side turned with every turn. After rolling it fully, pinch the seams together, and give it a gentle roll, shaping it into an oval.
  • For round shaped banneton – Make a rectangle, fold the bottom half way to the center. Fold the right side on the left and left on the right side, like an envelope. Finally cover seams with folding the top side. Pinch the seams and invert it and with the sides of your palm rotate the dough from down creating circles, thus shaping it into a round.
  • Generously sprinkle flour on the top side of the dough. Invert the smooth flour side on your hand and place it in the banneton, seam side should be facing upwards. Sprinkle some more flour on the top. Cover and let it proof for 4 hours or leave it overnight in the refrigerator.
  • If placed in the refrigerator, let it come to room temperature before baking.
  • 20 minutes before baking – preheat the oven to 230 C and put the dutch oven with the lid inside the oven to preheat.
  • After 20 minutes, carefully remove the dutch oven from the oven. Gently invert the dough on a parchment paper, score the bread, and carefully without burning your hand, place it in the dutch oven.
  • Bake for 20 minutes with the lid on, this creates the perfect the steam, which therefore creates the perfect crust. After 20 minutes, remove the lid and bake for 20 minutes more for the crust to turn a beautiful golden and auburn color.
  • When baked, remove from the oven, remove it from the dutch oven and then let it cool on a wire rack for an hour. I can only wait for 30 minutes before I start slicing the bread and eating it.
  • The exterior of the bread will have a nice crunchy crust. The interior should have these webs which is basically the air bubbles in the bread created during the process. The web should consist of big and small bubbles. It will be a little chewy compared to the commercial yeast leavened bread but that is how it supposed to be.

You can see the webs in the bread I made below, though it is not where I want it to be, but as I said the process is slow and it will take time to perfect this bread. So don’t give up.

img_20170125_211956_181

Advertisements

King’s Cake

So its been almost three months and the main reason I started my blog was to make all the recipes in the book The Chocolate Bible by Le Cordon Bleu. Because obviously it is my dream to go there and study but I cant go for some reasons till then why not practice at home. So the last recipe I made was the Chocolate Pound Cake. This week was my parent’s anniversary. So I was thinking to bake a special cake for them. Maybe not the usual chocolate cake I make but something with a different recipe a different style. Hence I opened the Chocolate Bible and started going through it. I was torn between the King’s Cake and Sachertorte. But after counseling with everyone with what would they prefer, they somehow really liked the sound of “King’s Cake”. So the decision was made.

Problem was I had chosen a different cake design for the cake. Which was round and I had already made fondant roses for the cake to make a heart on it. King’s Cake was a rectangular cake with a smaller height and larger width. Clearly heart couldn’t be made on it but still I went ahead with it. Because obviously the cake was more important than the flowers.

Every time I try a new recipe, there is always a moment in it when I am like ahem ! I hope I am doing this right and I don’t mess it up. After that I think I messed it up. But I don’t give up and go through it and at the end it is always done.

King’s Cake was fairly simple to make but there was still that “doubting” moment. Also the problem that occurred was I had no time on hand to repair the over cooked sugar syrup and the little extra thick ganache.

But somehow after assembling the cake. I just popped the flowers on top in a row making it look like a log with roses ( I like the look okay). After that came the finale of cutting the cake and eating it. Yes you know the answer it was delicious. Though it tasted much better the next day after being refrigerated for at least 12 hours. But cakes always taste better the next day at least some do. The flavor somehow enhances overnight. Specially this one. So had super fun making it and eating it for sure !!! Thank you Le Cordon Bleu.

King's Cake

King’s Cake

20140203_222114

Chocolate Pound Cake

December has arrived !!! So has the festive season. I don’t know if its just me or somebody else is also out there who loses it when December starts. I just want to keep baking and baking and baking every single day ! So I have planned a few things to make this month. Starting with a yummy and simple yet delicious first dish of the month The Chocolate Pound Cake, recipe courtesy by Le Cordon Bleu’s The Chocolate Bible.

As I said in my earlier post that I am going to try and bake all the possible recipes in that amazing book as my substitute for not being able to go to Le Cordon Bleu. This is my start. Well not technically I had already made the truffles, Chocolate tart and chocolate mousse in it. But lets start afresh.

So back to the recipe.

I obviously wont be writing all the recipes in this book. But I will be telling you the fun I had in baking and tasting it. All the goof ups and the success stories.

If we talk about the history of pound cake. It is a Northern European dish which is dated back to the 1700s. The traditional recipe makes a huge cake to feed a large crowd. The concept was simple and intelligent 1 pound of all the ingredients in it. Like one pound butter one pound flour one pound sugar and probably one pound eggs.  But the recipe kept changing or lets just say updating over the years. Pound Cake now has various versions of it like American, British, French, Mexican, Venezuelan & Colombian and German.

The recipe preparation is pretty simple and easy. As easy it was to prepare it, it was as much difficult to bake it. The time allotted to bake the recipe was very less at least for me or probably it is my oven. It took me double the time than by what was said the in the book. I think I have removed the cake four times from the oven checked it and put it back with no idea what I was doing. Finally the fourth time the knife came out clean. So I thought lets just try it now. I was skeptical whether it was fully baked or no. Nevertheless I removed it from the pan and put it on a tray and cut the first two slices. I then took a bite of the slice, it was delicious. And the best part it was a SUCCESS !!! I am so glad that my first bake in this baking month has been great so I am hoping for more positive bakes in the future.

The pound cake had the perfect chocolate flavor. Perfect texture. Perfect everything !

Chocolate Pound Cake

Chocolate Pound Cake

Chocolate Pound Cake

Chocolate Pound Cake

A Dream

“If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.”
― Walt Disney

So quotes really inspire me. It doesn’t matter who said it. Quotes are just meant to inspire to you. That one line that connects with you and gives you hope. So this one here gives me hope that I should start doing something to get closer to a dream, which I am not being able to do since the past five years. So what am I planning to do that great, that it hasn’t happened since the past five years – go to Le Cordon Bleu and do the Diplôme de Pâtisserie course. This all started thanks to my very good friend AK (ADU ) I will hear good things from her when she reads this. Anyways five years back my mind was twisted between some career choices that I had to make. When I was 20 I had made a plan of what my life would be like in the next 7-8 years. Things were going as planned. But then obviously I spoke to too soon. Things went haywire when I turned 21. I was in a no entry lane or dead end you can say. At the crossroads of my life my very good friend Adu who knew about my baking obsession told me about Le Cordon Bleu. The day I went on that website I was so mesmerized. Because till now all I was doing was baking for fun but now I could imagine what all I could do with it.

There was a whole world out there. With great opportunities, with great people and great food. Seeing the website that day I realized my calling. But the dream wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. My plans to attend Le Cordon Bleu kept changing and getting delayed for one reason or another. I have been waiting for it since I was 21 and now I am 25 !!! like seriously it is still not happening. But none the less I haven’t lost hope. So my plan from now on is – so what if I cant go Le Cordon Bleu for now, I will bring Le Cordon Bleu at home.

Inspired from Julie & Julia. I have reached a very nice arrangement. A bibliophile that I am I cannot help but finish a good book. But cookbooks I feel aren’t finished if you haven’t tried all the recipes in it. So my plan is to complete the The Chocolate Bible by Le Cordon Bleu. The Julie Powell style. Well I could have gone for Le Cordon Bleu Pâtisserie and Baking Foundations Classic Recipes book but then lets not get too ambitious. The Chocolate Bible has ample of recipes to get me started. It literally has everything that you can make with chocolate.  My only concern is who is going to eat so much chocolate !!! Let me know if I have any tasters reading this.

The Chocolate Bible

The Chocolate Bible

So as Walt Disney said – If you can dream it, you can do it. I will dream on completing this book one day and trying each and every recipe in it and not gaining an inch !!! God willing …

I am super excited !!!