Monday, June 9, 2008

I Love Bread

Did I mention I love bread? If you have been reading this blog for a while you are probably well acquainted with that fact...but I figured I should bring it up again just in case it slipped your mind.

A big ol' carb lover, that's me. At least I like it multi-grain. If I can substitute whole wheat or white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour for that lily-white all purpose stuff, I do. Most of the time it turns out pretty darn good, although sometimes you just can't substitute for the bread flour.

This is an excellent loaf of sourdough that I made with a starter that had been neglected in my fridge for about 2 months. The morning before I started my baking I stirred two cups of flour and the equivalent weight of water into about three cups of my extremely sour and sad looking starter and let it sit out for the day. When I got home from class that night it was all excited to see me, peeking over the top of the container and bubbling happily. I was pleased to see that it hadn't held a grudge against me despite not being fed for almost 8 weeks. So I scooped out three cupfuls, added 1 cup white bread flour and 2 cups wheat flour and stirred and then squished it into a rough ball and threw it into the fridge before bed.

That morning I got up to find that the dough had risen before me despite the cold refrigerator (how I love those culinary puns...or did I mean buns? I'd better quit while I'm abread, er ahem..I mean, ahead...). I tilted it out and kneaded it into a supple round that then got tossed back into the bowl. There was flour in the bottom which I didn't bother to pour out, hence the lovely floured top on the loaf. But we can all pretend that I did that on purpose. You know, for decorative effect.

So my bread got to sit all alone again, until I got home from work. It had doubled in size in the fridge, so I poured about a teaspoon of olive oil into the bottom of a 9" round cake pan and carefully flipped the dough ball into it. Talk about easy shaping. The floury bottom became the top and I left it to warm up and finish rising while the oven heated. It was at this point that I realized I had forgotten the salt. Basic bread= flour+water+leavening+salt. Except that mine was, at that point, definitely a no-sodium treat. While I don't use a ton of salt in my cooking, it does bring out flavour and this bread looked so pretty that I was depressed at the thought of it tasting flat (sour, yet flat). Then I had a great, save the moment idea. I patted a couple teaspoons of big grained sea salt onto the top and sides of my rotund loaf, careful not to upset it. If one disturbs a loaf while it is doing its pre-oven meditation it might fall, and I didn't want to turn out a sourdough brick like last time!

Luckily for me this one came out great. It baked in about 30 minutes at 450 degrees, and when I took it out it smelled fantastic. I squeezed it and it crackled merrily at me, always a good sign. It has kept fine wrapped in paper towels in a plastic bag on my counter, although the salt tends to attract water and make the top a bit more moist than I would like, which frankly is the only downside. Nothing that toasting can't fix! Most important of all, it tasted delicious with a surprisingly subtle sourness and the occasional salty crunch on the crust. Toasted, with some homemade fresh goat cheese, it was the best breakfast ever. So, do you love bread too?

4 comments:

Chennette said...

Oh, I don't know if that story would have had as successful an end if it was mine :-) but then I am not the kind to have any starter in my fridge to begin with. Your bread looks lovely.

Lyra said...

You know, this starter was actually given to me about 8 months ago, although I had been planning to make my own. If you are interested, it really isn't hard, try googling it and you will find lots of info on how to make one.

I was lucky with this bread, because I still dont know why the other one came out badly.

bee said...

2 moth old sourdough? that bread looks scrumptious.

Lyra said...

It is...there is just a little sliver left now:)