Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Norwich Sourdough

This is THE wonderful sourdough recipe that I have always wanted to share but keep forgetting because it’s just oh so good you'll forget what you were about to do before. At home, we’re not that good at waiting till the bread cools before we eat them. So every time I bake these, once they’re out of the oven, we usually wait for 5 minutes just so that we can listen to the crackling sound the crust makes and deeply inhale the fantastic aroma, then indulge like we have not eaten a single gram of carbohydrate in a month.

Norwich Sourdough.

The name was given by Susan of Wild Yeast to honor the Vermont hometown of King Arthur Flour where Jeffrey Hamelman resides and teaches. She adapted this recipe from Hamelman's book, Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes; THE book I really want for Christmas. If you are a bread enthusiast like me and spend hours reading about bread on the internet, I’m pretty sure you would come across this wonderful sourdough bread because it’s widely popular. 

Yield: 1 kg (2 medium rather large loaves)
450 gr all purpose flour 
60 gr  rye flour 
300 gr water at about 74F
180 gr mature 100% hydration sourdough starter**
11 gr salt
Feed/refresh your starter at least three hours before making the bread
**100% hydration means equal part of flour and water for feeding

-Mix the flours, water, and starter  until just combined.
-Let the dough rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
-Add the salt and continue kneading (or mixing if you have the luxury of owning a good mixer *cue to hubby*) until the dough reaches a medium level of gluten development. This should only take about 5 minutes.
-Transfer the dough to an oiled container (preferably a low, wide one so the dough can be folded without removing it from the container).
-Ferment at room temperature  for 2.5 hours, with folds at 50 and 100 minutes.
-Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into two. Preshape the dough pieces into balls.
-Sprinkle the balls lightly with flour, cover loosely with plastic, and let rest for 15 minutes.
-Shape into batards and place seam-side-up in a floured couche. If you dont have it, simply rest the batards on your silpat/good quality parchment paper lined tray seam-side-down. Though I have a couche, unless I'm proofing baguettes, I much prefer silpat/good quality parchment paper because it is simply more convenient.  I don't I need to transfer the proofed loaves to tray hence there is a lesser room for error.
-Cover with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 2–2.5 hours. 
-Preheat the oven, with baking stone if you have it, to 240C. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
-Turn the proofed loaves onto a semolina-sprinkled peel or parchment if you're using a couche. Slash each one with two overlapping cuts that are almost parallel to the long axis of the batard.
-Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 225C. Bake for 12 minutes with steam, and another 15 – 18 minutes without steam. Leave the oven door cracked open a bit for the last 5 minutes of this time. The crust should be a deep brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 5 minutes longer, with the door ajar.

Time Frame
Mix/autolyse: 35 minutes
First fermentation: 2.5 hours
Divide, bench rest, and shape: 20 minutes
Proof: 2.5 hours (or 1.5 hours, then retard in the fridge for 2 – 16 hours if you plan to bake it later )
Bake: 35 minutes

My friends always ask me about feeding a starter matter and the time needed between refreshing the starter and using it for the bread making. Well, not all starters are the same. Some are stronger than the others. Mine, it thrives in harsh environment, our house is filled with yell hard love harder ladies, it's alive and kicking. But one thing I do like, is keeping my starter at 50% hydration. That means feeding it with flour and water with 2:1 ratio. That allows me more time between each feeding time.

About the sourness of the sourdough bread itself, I concur that there is no bread made with sourdough would taste identically the same. Store A's bread would taste different even it's only slightly with store B's. Depending on how you maintain your starter and what you've been feeding it, certainly rye fed starter would produce more sour bread than white flour fed. I alternate Bonnie's feeding with rye and white flour because we love the rye taste in our bread and pizza but we don't want it to be overwhelmingly rye-ish.

I strongly recommend any sourdough lover to try this recipe. It has great crust and the crumb is surprisingly soft.

What do I do with so much bread in the house?  

Make French Onion Soup of course!


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