Archive for October 25th, 2009

Sunday bread baking

I am sure many of you have been wondering what ever happened to the “other” sourdough starter I was working on all those weeks ago, the one that I was going to use to make the panini I love from the Pearl Bakery here in Portland.


You may remember that when I first started working on that starter it wasn’t very strong.  Well, I was determined.  And ever since that last post over two weeks ago I have been faithfully feeding it.  Every day.  And, as promised, it got more and more active each time it was refreshed.

Finally, I decided that the starter was ready


and that this Sunday would be baking day.  That meant that I needed to refresh the starter one more time on Saturday morning and then, on Saturday night, combine 1 tablespoon of the resulting starter with bread flour and water to make the levain that would provide the leavening for the final dough.

This morning I woke up early and mixed the dough.  Once you’re at this point it is pretty easy.  You combine the flours (bread flour, all purpose flour, rye flour and whole wheat flour) with water and mix until the dough wraps itself around the dough hook of your mixer.  Then you let it sit for 30 minutes so that the flour can absorb all of the water and the gluten can begin to develop (this is also called the autolyse).

After the dough has rested you add the levain and some salt and mix the dough for another four minutes.

Now I have a confession to make.  I cheated.  I added a little bit (less than 1/2 a teaspoon) of commercial yeast to my dough along with the levain.  I just couldn’t stand the thought of failure after all of that work.  I hope that doesn’t make you stop reading right now.


After kneading in the toasted walnuts and raisins, I left the dough to rise for about four hours.  Then I cut the dough in half and formed two batards (kind of torpedo shaped loaves)


and left those to rise again for another three hours in baskets lined with floury, linen towels.


After this second rise, I baked the dough in a 425 degree oven for 40 minutes, rotating the loaves after about 20 minutes to prevent uneven baking.


The finished bread is beautiful!  Dark and crusty and incredibly flavorful, too.


I wish you could have a piece.


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