Starting with Sourdough

My current fascination obsession with sourdough began earlier this year, when I picked up a copy of Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor.

As a novice bread baker, I had attempted a few (surprisingly beautiful and delicious) of Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread loaves in various combinations of white and whole wheat flours, along with some whole grains.  All turned out beautifully, and I was bitten by the bread baking bug!

Being such a newbie to the world of bread baking (and not knowing the jargon), I am very glad for Reinhart’s excellent (and very detailed) explanations about the stages of bread, and the different components — most of his recipes are a two-day process, and call for overnight fermentations of different stages of dough.

Over the last month, I have cultivated my own wholewheat sourdough starter (which I have named Fluffy, because it is my pet), and have made two whole wheat sourdough loaves using recipes from Whole Grain Breads from this starter!  The first was Whole Wheat Hearth Bread, served at a get-together last weekend.

The second sourdough was Multigrain Hearth Bread finished tonight!

The Multigrain Hearth Bread recipe allows for the addition of any whole grains — larger grains should be cooked before adding to the soaker, while smaller grains can be added uncooked.  I decided that oats and flax seeds would be a lovely combination, and I was right!  What a delicious bread this turned out to be — full of flavour for eating on its own, or with just a little bit of butter or old cheddar.  This is definitely my new ‘standby’ bread!

I also have a more serious project for the end of this week: I have been charged with baking white sourdough loaves to accompany a wine-tasting!  I don’t have much experience with white flour, so I did a test run tonight with a bit of Fluffy (my whole wheat starter) converted into a white starter, Snowy (you know, the little white dog from Tintin).  I hate to report that it was a grand disaster, with gummy insides:

Obviously I have more work to do (and have found a new recipe, and turned Snowy into a liquid levain as per the instructions in Daniel Leader’s Local Breads: Sourdough and Whole-Grain Recipes from Europe’s Best Artisan Bakers.

Cross your fingers that I have beautiful white loaves to show you soon!

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Categories: Bread, Vegetarian

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14 Comments on “Starting with Sourdough”

  1. November 30, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    You are a bread baking queen!!! I am looking forward to reading more about your yeasty adventures 🙂

    • November 30, 2009 at 9:47 am #

      And oh-so-yeasty they will be! 😉

  2. November 30, 2009 at 9:40 am #

    I had a similar experience with making a white bread from my mostly sourdough starter. I think it just needs time to recover from the shock of eating white flour, and should be good later. Funny because I’m planning on having a liquid levain as well from the same book!

    • November 30, 2009 at 9:46 am #

      Daniel – that is so interesting!
      Glad to hear it’s not just me. I have definitely hit a new stage in bread baking when my whole grain loaves turn out way more predictably than my white ones!

  3. Paddy O'Dea
    November 30, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    levain? my goodness I’m traversing new territory here! Excellent blog Lindsay! I don’t have the time to do all this – so I intend living vicariously through your foodie blob. It’s wonderful! Hope you and Krish are good! Say hi to Max & Lol too!

    • November 30, 2009 at 2:25 pm #

      Thanks, Paddy!
      Krish and I are doing very well – looking forward to the holidays, which of course brings lots of good food!

      Glad I can help you live vicariously!! Enjoy!

  4. anick
    November 30, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    Hej, Congrats on the initiative, this is awesome!

    Have you seen Julie and Julia….we’ve personally gone little wacko with French cooking pour le moment…
    And speaking of food inspired movies, why not make a publicity for the original Mostly Martha…in German! Delicious ! 🙂

    Ok so you get it, I am more into the “looking” at food rather than the doing. But that is why there are people like you!

    • November 30, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

      Thanks, Anick – I’m pretty happy with it so far!

      I’m mostly into the “eating” of food — and so cooking and baking help to support that! 😉

      Julie and Julia is my current favourite movie — what a delight it was to watch. Krish is deeply into braising right now, so he’s gone back to his French side too!

  5. Paddy O'Dea
    November 30, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

    be your pardon dear – I meant to say Blog … not blob! LOL!

    • November 30, 2009 at 2:26 pm #

      I like ‘blob’!

  6. July 11, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    This is delicious! Thanks for sharing.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. No-Knead Sourdough (with a little cheat) « The Kitchen Operas - December 2, 2009

    […] first loaf from Snowy was a miserable failure.  Gummy and unrisen… ugh.  So, I decided to do some more research.  After poking around on […]

  2. Opera makes for some awesome bread « The Kitchen Operas - February 9, 2010

    […] My favourite loaf so far in my Bread-experiments has been the Multigrain Hearth Bread from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads.  Reinhart calls for 170 g of “any combination of cooked and uncooked grains”, the perfect canvas for experimenting with whole grains and my wholewheat sourdough starter, Fluffy. […]

  3. Kitchen Operas’ First Birthday! | The Kitchen Operas - November 30, 2010

    […] you’re interested, you can check out my very first post (about sourdough).  Yup, still obsessed with […]

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