Remember the pizza I made a while back? I made it from the discarded starter I was feeding and building up to make my first batch of home made bread using my own culture. No commercial yeasts here. I actually made the bread on Thanksgiving day but am just getting around to blogging about it. Bread is alive! That's what I love about it. I am proud to have been able to leaven my own bread using yeasts from my local environment. It turned out with so much flavor from the long fermentation that I will definitely be doing this again. Here's the story of my Fargo Sourdough.
On Tuesday evening I took a cup of the active sourdough sarter and mixed it with 3 cups of flour and two cups of water. I mixed it well, covered it, and left it to ferment. After 22 hours, this is what I got. A wet dough sponge that was frothy and bubbly.
To the bubbly sponge, I added 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of salt, 1 and 1/2 cups of water and about 7 cups of flour. This was mixed together and allowed to rest for about 30 minutes.
Once the dough had a chance for the moisture to permeate the newly added flour I tipped it out onto the counter and kneaded it by hand for about 10 minutes until it was smooth and elastic. This was shaped into a ball and placed in a well oiled large bowl. definitely be doing this again. It was covered with a plastic bag and placed in my cool basement to rise overnight. The next morning, after about 10 hours, the result was a well risen dough that reached to the top of the bowl.
The dough was gently tipped out onto the counter being careful not to deflate it too much. It was divided into four and shaped into loaves. They were covered and allowed to rise for about 2 and a half hours. The dough was placed on a peel, slashed, and baked on a stone in a 450 °F oven two loaves at a time.
In order to provide the right texture to the crust and get maximum oven spring you need to have a humid oven at the beginning of baking. This is difficult to control in a home oven. I have good luck by first throwing a half cup of water onto the hot oven floor just before adding the bread. I then load the dough onto the baking stones and add another cup of water thrown onto the floor. After a few minutes I add another cup of water and then let it bake until the crust is nicely browned - about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the loaf.
The result was wonderful if I do say so myself. The crumb was not too big but certainly big enough. The crust was chewy and flavorful. The interior was still moist and soft. The bread was not sour like San Francisco sourdough. I guess Fargo flora are less acidic than that from the west coast. I like to think that my Fargo sourdough is more akin to traditional French sourdoughs. At least the bread was spot on what I hoped for.
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