Sunday, June 28, 2009

Simple Sourdough Bread, Real Simple perfect for me!

I would have loved to have had the opportunity to be a intern at some bakery.
There are nuances and feel of the dough an pastry that I just would have enjoyed getting the experience on. My whole education of baking was about 4 days, between portion control and special dietary requirements and allergic reactions....

You can feel the correct elasticity of the dough, you can see that it has risen sufficiently to put in the oven.

You know how to roll out the dough just right, or you know and are not afraid to tackle stretching dough in order to make strudel......

Over the years I have been somewhat successful at making bread, but I do not have the patience to make it turn out to be consistent, time over time over time.
Until I found this one recipe.

This is so simple that it would really take somebody real special to screw it up. But it did take me two times to get it right....or shall I say to get it perfect!

There are only 3 ingredients, not counting simple can you get?
And you don't have to kneed it or process it in any way!

Stuff you will need.......get it? Knead!......

17 oz of bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons of Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon of active dry yeast
3 - 4 tablespoons cornmeal ( optional )
12 oz water.

Get a big bowl and toss in 17 oz of flour. By weight.
add the salt and yeast, and mix to homogenize
add the water and stir into a dough.

If need be you can add just a tad, like a teaspoon or two of water if you need to incorporate all the flour into one mass. This may or not be required depending on your moisture content of your flour. Humid climates may require less water. The whole result should be a dough ball, just wet enough to have picked up all the dry flour. If you still have some flour in the bowl with the 12 oz of water, just a tiny bit, to pick it all up. The other way to accomplish the same, is to hold back a little of the flour and add it at the end. It is quite easy and don't be intimidated by it! The end result is worth it!

After you have made a ball and there is no more dry flour to be absorbed, remove the mixing spoon and cover the bowl with some plastic wrap.
Set aside in a draft free or semi warm place. Room temperature ( 70-95 )
after 18 hours, yep 18 hours, remove the plastic and flour your hands and punch down the down, flour the dough as you are punching it down , using the flour will allow your hands not to become too sticky, and let it rest for about 15 to 20 minutes.

After you come back, flour your hands remove the dough from the bowl and fold it down on itself folding the seam to be on the bottom , sort of making a nice dough ball while squeezing any trapped air, sort of massaging the dough ball, if it is sticky add a little more flour.

Meanwhile find a kitchen tea towel and lay it out on a flat surface and dust it with half the corn meal, place the dough ball on the middle of the dusted towel, the dust the top of the bread with a little more, fold the towel over on top gently as not to totally trap the soon to expand dough. Set it back into the old bowl with the towel wrapped around it.

Set it in a warm place, room temp. for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
One hour into the waiting process fire up your oven to 425.

Get a sheet pan or if you have a baking stone even better, and put some parchment paper on the sheet pan, sprinkle some corn meal on the stone.

When the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the resting bowl, you will now have the bread in sort of a towel sling. Gently roll it out of the towel onto the sheet pan or stone.
Wait for about 45 to 60 minutes until the crust has become dark golden brown and if you thump the loaf it sounds hollow.

Cook in the oven until your desired doneness.

I like mine about an hour long.

Remove , let cool on a raised wire rack for 20 minutes.
Turn the oven off.

Get some room temperature butter,
slice, butter and enjoy.....

The hardest thing about this recipe is figuring out the time you need to start it so you have the finished product at your desired time......


Also, I might add. This has worked at both 8500 ft and sea level. It takes a little less time to do the 2nd rise at higher elevation. But still a no brainer!

Note: The picture of the dough in the bowl, is how it will look after 18 hours of fermenting.
Also be sure the water does not have any chlorine in it, with the small amount of yeast being used, it will kill the yeast! ( use non-chlorinated or spring water, bottled or distilled water)


Leslie Limon said...

I too love baking bread. One day, I'd like to open my own little bakery that serves all kinds of wonderful breads, not just pan dulce. I can't wait to try this recipe in the stone oven at my brother-in-law's ranch!

Constantino said...

One of the things that we don't have or it's hard to find is the sourdough style bread. You know the kind with holes in it, and a hard tasty crust. This one does it, and you don 't have to worry if you kneaded it right or long enough. I started making it about 3 times a week, it is super , especially tasted with some fresh butter.....
Let me know when you got the bakery...It will be a reason to venture out to that neck of the woods!

Nancy said...

I have been wanting to make some sourdough but had no idea how to get some starter. This is perfect, thank you! I wonder if our "room temperature" here in Mazatlan is warmer than yours (I assume it is) will speed everything up? My kitchen usually is between 82 and 88 degrees farenheit.

I'll let you know how it works out, next to find regular cornmeal, all I have here is Maseca. Do you think that would be coarse enough?

Constantino said...

Nancy , the only reason I use the cornmeal is to release the rising bread so it doesn't stick on to the new pan, or in ease of transfering it from the rising place to the oven. It also provides a neat texture reminding me of the "french bread" I see in artisanal bakeries. You could use flower, it just takes more I would guess.
Since you are in Mazatlan, your flour may have more moisture from the humidity, so the recipe is forgiving, but you may make it with the exact amount of water, whereas I need to add a touch more to incorporate all the flour.
I would love to see your picture of the finished product!
I have baked it several ways, on a stone, on parchment paper and in a dutch oven. I like the results of the oven with the corn meal best.
It will be interesting to see you finished product and the taste of the local yeast and bacteria in the final product....
One other thing, be sure that you do not use any chlorinated municipal water. With the small amount of yeast and the long "bubbling time" you do not want to kill any of the yeast action, that is where the flavor develops from. Later if you like the taste you can pull out the starter dough and keep it alive and feed it regularly, that is another style of the process, a little more complicated that this recipe.
Have fun, don't forget to let me know your results.....

Leslie Limon said...

I substitute Maseca for cornmeal all the time! (I make some delicious hushpuppies with Maseca!) There should be no problem using Maseca instead of cornmeal. Like Constantino said, its help prevent the bread from sticking to the pan AND it adds an extra crunchiness!

Anonymous said...

Looks easy , hope to try it this week for the weekend. 18 hours? I will let you know my results! Any problem using whole wheat flour?

Inmigrante Rentista said...

OK, I give up, how much water is kneaded before I add the additional teaspoon?

Constantino said...

Ah.....someone noticed. Sorry, proofreading is not one of my strengths. I have corrected it. Thank you, that's one check on your side of the list!

Anonymous said...

You were right, it is pretty easy and was the first time I have made bread not in a machine that did not taste like plain. It is a keeper for me! Thanks AJ

Could you add olives or rosemary to it or will that mess up the result?

Constantino said...

Thanks AJ, I am glad you have now found a easy way to have some better tasting bread.
Yes you can add some olives or rosemary, I would be sure that the olives are drained of their juice or oils, and the rosemary is chopped to a medium not to fine or not to whole, use fresh of course!
I would probably not add more than about 1/3 of a coup of chopped olives or more than about 1 TBS of rosemary though.
Let me know how it turns out for your new herb bread.

Nancy said...

Holy Cow! If I had your phone number I would call you up and tell you how thrilled I am by this bread! It was SO good, I am a happy gal now.

I think there is something in my Armenian background, I just NEED hearty bread and soup to feel like myself. We have some decent breads in Mazatlan (Mega and Naturista stores) but not this good!

I will be making this a lot, now I need to read up on how to keep starter alive and all that.

But for right now I am sated, with two lovely pieces and my nice vegie soup filling my belly. I am going to do a blog post on this when I come out of my swoon, I will let you know when it (with pictures) is up.

Gracias, seƱor.

Constantino said...

I am happy it turned out! I know that I was thrilled to see the results and now make it twice a week! I have a couple of other people email me telling me of their joy also, and that they could not post a picture in the comments section. I look forward to your blog info.
Today I am going to try the olives and rosemary AJ asked about.

Nancy said...


I'm sure it will look better next time, but I loved the way, I used a pizza stone, heated up along with the oven. Thanks again

Alice said...

I'm going to start it today. Thanks for the recipe.

Jan said...

Wow, I can't wait to try this and I'm going to scour your other recipes. I'm in San Carlos, hotter than Mazatlan right now but it sounds like the instructions you gave Nancy should work for me. Thanks so much.

Constantino said...

Greetings Jan in San Carlos! Let me know how you first one works out, it is pretty easy and after a few, you will be able to whip them out in a flash, sans the 18 hour wait....
It is so nice to have some different bread then what is available down here.

Alice said...

24 hours later--HECHO! One question, mine wouldn't brown on top but the bottom was brown to the point of burning so I took it out. What did I do wrong? Otherwise, it was deish! Here are some pictures from 7,300 feet up in Mexico City:

Constantino said...

Alice, it looks pretty good for the first one. It appears that your oven is to blame. For some reason the heat in the bottom is a lot hotter than at the top, which is strange since heat rises. You may have the burner right under the place where you put the bread, or the oven is small. You might try to move the bread to the middle or upper rack if you have one, or get some quarry tile or a pizza stone and let that heat up. Also pick up a oven thermometer and double check the temperature. Or maybe you opened up the oven door too much, otherwise I do not know what else could have caused that problem.
The inside of the bread look fine, if it is a Mexican manufacured oven many just have a very vague thermostat, the oven thermometer will find that out.
I have also baked it on my BBQ grill with a pizza stone on there and had the issue what you described, because the burners where too close to the bottom of the bread. If you can also maybe get some bricks to put down on the bottom of the oven. Otherwise keep trying. Looks good!

Alice said...

You got it--my oven is terrible! It's miniature sized (only a small sheet pan can fit), the heat doesnt distribute evenly from the bottom, and the temperature knob is very ambiguous. I really have to guess where 220C is since my knob is only calibrated to every 30C(assuming that's even right). Ill try getting a thermometer for the next attempt.

Constantino said...

That explains it Alice. The smaller the oven the worse the air convection currents in there are, when a pan is placed in there.
I have also baked the bread in a large sized table top, roaster-oven-toaster-oven kind of contraption. The bottom was more done, but it still worked out ok. If you have no other options what you could do is halfway take the bread out and rotate it upside down, that will also work...

Alice said...

Thanks, I will flip it halfway next time and see

Nancy said...

Constantino, I was just over at The Fresh Loaf and saw this pizza recipe, but it requires sourdough starter. I am wondering if you would look at it and see if you think I could use your bread recipe for this. It just looks so amazing!

a million thanks,


Constantino said...

What you have after 19 hours of fermenting is starter. Actually if you take the dough, that is fermenting, that should be enough to keep going. Each time you take out a cup or two of the starter, you are suppose to put back the same amount of flour back in, with a little water. That is was the bubbling starter which bakeries have. So actually this should work and the flavor develops because of the local yeasts that come in contact with the dough. You can keep the starter in the fridge forever as along as you keep feeding it and taking out the starter somewhat regularly.

Nancy said...

I'm sorry to be such a pest!

Ok, so if I save your recipe after 19 hours as starter and use some for the pizza recipe and save the rest in the fridge...

then do I go find a different sourdough recipe and use the fridge supply as the starter? Or would I only do that if I didn't have 18 hours to wait before baking?

I am going to try the pizza this weekend, and save some starter and see where all this takes me. Thanks so much for the help.

Anonymous said...

Fabulous! I am sitting here eating the first slice while I am typing. I substituted half of the flour with whole wheat. Yum! Got to go, need another slice before it is discovered and gone. Thanks for the great recipe. Judy

Constantino said...

Not a pest at all Nancy, love to share the info with you!
On second hand let me give you a recipe for a starter. You can use it forever as long as you keep feeding it.

Constantino said...

Nancy, sorry I didn't answer your question about the starter. The starter flavor will be done after about 12 to 24 hours or when it is actively bubbling. The amount of flour that is in the bread recipe will make the bread, you could remove the starter, and make up the flour and water at anytime, you would just have to wait for it to do the first rise after punching it down, then the two hour rise..... I hope that answers it.

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