I finally made it. Sourdough.
I have actually made this formula before. Several years ago, in fact. But that was not “in order” and part of the challenge is to do all the formulas in the book “in order.”
Now, I have a fairly tried and tested method for sourdough bread. This one is different and while I haven’t taste tested them side by side, I don’t know that there is much difference. And I don’t know that I have a whole lot of preference for one method over the other either. It’s just two different ways to the same end.
Mr. Reinhart’s method begins with taking some of your barm (sourdough starter) and making what he refers to as a firm starter; basically a relatively stiff dough without any salt.
One kind of nice thing about sourdough, and most other breads for that matter, is that you don’t have to babysit it. It’s not nearly as fussy as you might think. In fact, I made my two loaves over several days as I had the time.
Do a step, stick it in the fridge. Come back the next day when I have time and do a step, then stick it in the fridge again. It may seem like a long process, but it’s liberating to me to be able to set it aside and work on it as I have the time. And as a side bonus, this tends to develop more flavor.
I started out taking my starter out of the fridge and feeling guilty that I had neglected it for so long. However, I was also kind of proud that it was still alive. I began feeding it a couple of days prior to starting the bread. I fed it twice over a several day period to get it to wake up a bit.
Then I finally made my firm starter on a Saturday when I had some time, let it ferment for several hours and then put it in the fridge. I came back the next day (a Sunday morning) and made my dough and let it do it’s initial fermentation while we were at church. We got home and boy had it fermented. Over fermented to be more exact. But moving on, I formed my loaves. Knowing that I would not get around to baking them that day, I put each in a bowl in the refrigerator immediately and we went out of town.
I came back the next day to bake one of the loaves and low and behold, I found this:
I took the dough and reshaped it and let it proof and baked it.
The result was a beautiful loaf.
And this is one of my favorite ways to eat sourdough bread. Sliced with a thin layer of Nutella spread on top.
I recently introduced my kids to the wonder of the Nutella topped bread. It was a hit and now a favorite treat for a snack.
Like I said, I don’t know that I have a particular preference between Mr. Reinhart’s method of firm starter versus just starting with the barm. Either way leads to sourdough goodness. And it’s alright with me.
To see my other Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge blog posts and to read about the challenge, go here.