June 8, 2008

Sourdough is forgiving

Filed under: food — origamifreak @ 2:16 pm

Last weekend, while on the phone with Lisa, I lost track of what I was doing, and instead of just folding in enough flour to the sponge to make it kneadable, I ended up folding so much in that it was not even sticky anymore.

So, having read things about no-knead bread, and having other things to do, I just stuck the ball of “dough” in the fridge to sour for a couple of days and wait until I had time to bake it.

On Friday I whacked off a chunk of dough and brought it in a bag with me to Ithaca, for baking on Saturday.

Kathie put it in a cake pan (she’s already packed her other pans for her imminent move to DC), and after rising, it had basically spread out without increasing in volume. It wasn’t smooth on top as usual, but rough and there were visible fissures down into the “loaf.” We reshaped it and let it “rise” some more, then came back to see it looked just the same as before (spread out, but not increased in volume, and funny fissures and holes).

So we just baked it as it was, and it came out like biscotti, and the texture was very strange, more like a wet quick bread than a yeasted bread, with irregular holes, and extremely dense. The taste was good and sour, but that’s about all I can say about it that is nice. It was not a successful loaf.

I guess that’s what happens when you don’t knead. The gluten is not structured in such a way that it can hold in bubbles. Just like all the baking books say. Go figure!

This morning, back at my house, I pulled the remaining “dough” out of the fridge and started kneading it. It behaved oddly, tearing instead of stretching, with no elasticity. I just kept at it, and eventually it started behaving more like “normal” dough. It was almost viscous by the time I put it in the pans to rise.

After 6 hours rising, it had just tripled in volume, and I baked it.

Now it looks like the sourdough I have come to know and love. Spongy texture, crunchy crust, and really, really sour. In fact, it might almost be too sour, even to my Bay Area tastes. I guess a week is the extreme of how long I want to let my dough ferment in the fridge.

It’s nice to know that you can rearrange the steps and knead at the 11th hour, and still get decent bread, though.


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