Tricky Sourdough Bread

I’ve had quite the time trying to come up with just the right texture and taste combination for sourdough bread.  You might think, “Hey, what’s the big deal?”, but it’s really tricky getting any bread to turn out consistently at this elevation and the precipitation plays a big part in that.

Whenever it rains, my oven takes longer to heat up, and bread may or may not turn out at all.  I’ll give you an example. [Here’s the recipe]

Once you have a healthy, refreshed starter (see recipe for “Sourdough Starter Refreshment”), the bread will take about 24 hours (over the course of two days) before it is ready for baking. It is best to start the recipe in the morning, no more than 12 hours after the last feeding of the starter.

I started baking Thursday evening about 9 p.m. or so.  I was supposed to mix some flour and some water into my starter and let it rise until doubled, “two or three hours”.

MAKE THE SPONGE: In bowl or container with at least 1-quart capacity, use rubber spatula to stir together starter and water until fully combined. Stir in flour until combined; mixture should resemble thick pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature (about 72 degrees) until doubled in bulk, 2 to 3 hours.

Now, mind you, there’s no commercial yeast in the mixture.  It’s just sourdough starter, flour and water.  I left it on the table to rise. It took all night and half the next day to double in bulk.

LET THE DOUGH RISE: Lightly spray container or bowl with at least 4-quart capacity with nonstick cooking spray; place dough in container and lightly spray surface of dough. Take internal temperature of dough; then cover tightly with plastic wrap. If temperature registered below 78 degrees, set container at room temperature (about 70 degrees) in draft-free spot; if warmer than 78 degrees, set container at cool room temperature (about 65 degrees) in draft-free spot. Let stand until dough doubles in bulk, 3 to 5 hours.

Then it got tricky.  I took my dough’s temperature. It was 68 F. I sat the dough on the counter until the next day before it had doubled in bulk.  It took me four days to make two loaves a bread!  I must be crazy.  The bread was good, but I don’t always have 4 days to wait.

I’ve got three recipes for sandwich sourdough bread, which is what I really want.  I love the taste of it, and it’s great as toast, which I love with eggs.  Just a few more months and I should have eggs from my very own chickens.

The bread is good.  Try the recipe. If you aren’t at 4,000 feet it should work fine.  🙂