You know you’re old when . . .

Sourdough 1

According to Little J, you know you are old when you meet the following criteria:

1. You can wear all of your birthday presents.

2. More than 90% of those presents are in the gray color palette.

3. You request bread for your birthday cake.

Middle K couldn’t argue with those well-presented facts, but she accepted her ancient age of 19 happily as she bit into the crispy crust and chewy center of her homemade sourdough birthday bread.

While I am not happy about my kids getting so “old”, I am all for homemade sourdough bread as a birthday cake!

Sourdough 2

I am no expert at sourdough bread making, but this recipe has been consistently successful for me. I like to add some whole rye flour to my dough, but you can also use all white flour. Or for whole wheat sourdough, check out this blog by my new friend Lorie who shared her sourdough starter with me. That is one more thing I was really sad to leave behind when I moved!

Here are a few notes that have helped me as I make this sourdough recipe:

  • This recipe makes 4 medium-small round loaves of bread. I usually bake 2 loaves and place the dough for 2 loaves in the refrigerator to bake later. See additional note below.
  • I use a 100% hydration sourdough starter (fed with equal weights of flour and water)
  • I  have much more consistent results when I weigh my ingredients for bread, but amounts will also be influenced by humidity, flour brands, measuring techniques and starter consistency and strength. Dough should pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl, but not be too stiff.
  • If you are baking on a stone, don’t skip the steam in the oven- that is what helps with oven rise and creates the thick crispy crust.
  • If you do not have a very strong starter, you can add about 1/2 tsp yeast to the dough when mixing.
  • The bread can also be baked in a covered ceramic baking dish instead of using a stone and steam. You will need to bake a little longer and should remove the lid about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time to darken the crust. (Sprinkle cornmeal on bottom of dish and place shaped loaves of dough directly in dish for their final rise.)
  • For a stronger sourdough taste and great texture: Make the dough and let rise for 2-3 hours. Then cut the dough into 4 pieces, put them in oiled Ziploc bags and leave them in the refrigerator for about a week. The dough will continue to slowly rise (open bags and punch down if needed throughout the week). When you are ready to bake a loaf: remove from refrigerator, shape into loaf and let rise until almost doubled and bake as directed in recipe.

 

Sourdough 4

A very happy birthday to this awesome girl who has grown into an amazing young woman. I will sure miss her when she leaves for college this fall!!

RECIPE:

Sourdough 2

Sourdough Bread

Sourdough Sponge:
400 grams (about 2 cups) sourdough starter
600 grams (about 2 1/2 cups) water
600 grams (about 4 cups) bread flour (or all-purpose flour)

Additional Ingredients:
500 grams (about 3 1/3 cups) bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
250 grams (about 2 cups) whole rye flour (or use additional white flour)
30 grams (about 1 Tbs + 1 tsp) salt

DAY BEFORE BAKING:
If you keep your sourdough starter in the refrigerator, remove the starter from the refrigerator in the morning and feed it with equal parts (by weight) flour and water. In the evening, prepare the sponge by mixing listed amounts of starter, water and flour in a large bowl. Stir together, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature overnight.

DAY OF BAKING:
At least 5-6 hours before serving, prepare dough: In a large mixing bowl, knead together the sourdough sponge and additional white and rye flours. Knead for about 2 minutes, or until well mixed. Cover bowl and let autolyse (rest) for 30 minutes in the mixing bowl. Uncover, add salt to mixing bowl and knead for 5-6 minutes. Add additional flour, if necessary, until dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl when kneading.

Turn dough out into a large oiled bowl. Let rise until doubled, about 3-4 hours (longer in the winter). For round loaves, cut dough into 4 pieces and shape into loaves. Place each loaf on a square of aluminum foil (I like to use the non-stick foil), cover with a towel and let rise for about an hour or until risen, but not quite doubled. Dough can also be placed in greased loaf pans (I usually make 3 loaves when I use pans), covered and allowed to rise.

Place a baking stone in the center of oven. Preheat oven to 450°F for at least 20-30 minutes. About 5 minutes before baking, place a rimmed baking dish or roasting pan on the lowest rack or floor of the oven.  Fill a glass measuring cup with about 2 cups of water.

With a sharp knife, make 2 –3 slashes in the tops of 2 of the loaves of bread. Place 2 loaves of bread (on their foil squares) on the hot baking stone and pour the water into the baking dish. Immediately close oven door and bake for 10 minutes.

Reduce oven heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes. If the baking dish still has water in it after the first 20 minutes of additional baking, remove the pan of water and continue baking bread until golden brown. Remove bread to wire racks and let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing. Repeat with remaining 2 loaves (or use 2 stones and bake together).

 

Sourdough Notes:

    • This recipe makes 4 medium-small round loaves of bread. I usually bake 2 loaves and place the dough for 2 loaves in the refrigerator to bake later. See additional note below.
    • I use a 100% hydration sourdough starter (fed with equal weights of flour and water)
    • I  have much more consistent results when I weigh my ingredients for bread, but amounts will also be influenced by humidity, flour brands, measuring techniques and starter consistency and strength. Dough should pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl, but not be too stiff.
    • If you are baking on a stone, don’t skip the steam in the oven- that is what helps with oven rise and creates the thick crispy crust.
    • If you do not have a very strong starter, you can add about 1/2 tsp yeast to the dough when mixing.
    • The bread can also be baked in a covered ceramic baking dish instead of using a stone and steam. You will need to bake a little longer and should remove the lid about 10 minutes before the end of cooking time to darken the crust. (Sprinkle cornmeal on bottom of dish and place shaped loaves of dough directly in dish for their final rise.)
    • For a stronger sourdough taste and great texture: Make the dough and let rise for 2-3 hours. Then cut the dough into 4 pieces, put them in oiled Ziploc bags and leave them in the refrigerator for about a week. The dough will continue to slowly rise (open bags and punch down if needed throughout the week). When you are ready to bake a loaf: remove from refrigerator, shape into loaf and let rise until almost doubled and bake as directed in recipe.

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