Sunday, April 26, 2009

Big Rock Sourdough

I know, I know, no one has ever heard of Big Rock Sourdough. It certainly won't be sweeping the nation like San Francisco Sourdough, but it was a tasty creation in my kitchen this weekend. The crust was crusty, the inside was nice and chewy. The crumb was tight. The sour flavor was a bit light if you are one who really enjoys sour sourdough but perfect for me. I have to admit, I am so excited about this bread. About 6 months ago I tried making a barm of wild yeast and I thought I was successful. However, once I made my bread, it did not raise and was extremely dense. I developed a bit of a fear of sourdough then. I mean, it takes days to build a barm and then more days to develop your dough. The thought of so much time and so many ingredients wasted for a terrible bread I had to throw away anyway. At least when I bake a cake and it fails, I know within a few hours. But, I talked myself into trying it again. All these months of making other successful breads, all the while knowing that sourdough had gotten the better of me. I received Peter Reinhart's A Bread Baker's Apprentice and Crust and Crumb for Christmas, and it has really kicked my bread baking up a notch. I followed his instructions for a wild yeast starter and consequently used his recipe for a basic sourdough and it turned out fabulous. However, I have to confess, I did end up spiking the final dough with a bit of yeast only because on the day everything came together, I did not have four hours to wait for it to raise. I needed it to raise within a couple of hours and the additional yeast did just that. Next time though, I will make it on a weekend and really try and let my wild yeast do their thing for even more flavor. I think this baby was enough of a success that I am going to submit it to Susan at Wild Yeast for this week's YeastSpotting

Sourdough Bread
adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice

4 oz (2/3 cup) barm (room temperature)
4-5 oz (1 cup) bread flour
1-2 oz (1/8 -1/4 cup) water

20.25 oz (4 1/2 cups) bread flour
.5 oz (2 tsp) salt
14 oz (1 3/4 cup) lukewarm water (you may use a little less or more)
1 tsp instant yeast (sorry, I didn't weigh this one, it was a last minute thought)
Directions:Mix together the barm and the flour. Then add only enough water to make it form a firm ball. Allow to ferment at room temperature until doubled. For my dough this took about 6 hours. If your home is a bit warmer or colder than mine it will take more or less time. Stick the starter in the fridge overnight.

When you are ready to make your final dough, be sure to take your starter out of the fridge at least an hour ahead of time. Mix together the salt, flour, water, and chunks of the starter until everything comes together.

Knead the dough either by hand or with a mixer until it is fully developed. Allow bread to raise until double. If you used instant yeast, this will take about 2 hours. If you are counting on your wild yeast, this step will take longer.

Shape dough as desired. At this point you can bench proof your bread or you can put in the refrigerator overnight. I put mine in the refrigerator overnight and it worked wonderfully.

If refrigerating, be sure to take it out at least an hour before baking (if using instant yeast, longer if you are only using wild yeast). Score as desired.

Bake at 500 degrees for 10 minutes and then turn down the heat to 450 degrees and bake until done.


  1. Lovely! I'm glad you didn't let sourdough get the better of you, it really is such a satisfying way to bake. Thanks for joining YeastSpotting!

  2. This was obviously not a failure! What a great reward for your effort.

  3. That sounds like the perfect combination of textures and flavors. I'm enjoying Reinhart's BBA and also his Whole Grain book, but haven't had the courage to delve into sourdough yet. That, and I don't like a real sour bread, nor does my hubs (who is the one I really bake bread for)



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