Classic Sourdoughs, Revised: A Home Baker's Handbook
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Sourdough: The Gold Standard of Bread
More and more home bakers are replacing mass-produced breads and commercial yeasts in favor of artisan breads made with wild cultures and natural fermentation. Whether you want to capture your own local yeasts, take advantage of established cultures like San Francisco Sourdough, or simply bake healthier, more natural loaves, you’ll find no better guides than renowned sourdough authorities Ed and Jean Wood.
In this updated edition of Classic Sourdoughs, the Woods reveal their newly discovered secret to crafting the perfect loaf: by introducing a unique culture-proofing step and adjusting the temperature of the proofs, home bakers can control the sourness and leavening like never before. The reward? Fresh, hot sourdough emerging from the oven just the way you like it—every time. Starting with their signature Basic Sourdough loaf, the Woods present recipes featuring rustic grains and modern flavors, including Herb Spelt Bread, Prarie Flax Bread, and Malt Beer Bread, along with new no-knead versions of classics like White French Bread. They round out the collection with recipes for homemade baguettes, bagels, English muffins, and cinnamon rolls, plus a chapter on baking authentic sourdoughs in bread machines.
Steeped in tradition, nuanced in flavor, and wonderfully ritualized in preparation, sourdough is bread the way it was meant to be. So join the sourdough renaissance and bring these time-honored traditions into your own kitchen.
texture, the bacteria for the sourdough flavor. Thus the definition of “traditional” sourdough requires a “culture,” or “starter,” containing both of these organisms. Delicious, nutritious breads of various kinds were produced for centuries by a process no one understood. Bakers believed there was “something” in dough that made it rise. They knew if they saved some old dough and added it to a new batch, the new dough would also rise. For eons, all new doughs required a bit of old dough to
point where the yeast is inhibited. An unusually sour loaf will verify that this is what happened; by trial and error, the right balance in a warm environment can be achieved. If you are using a proofing box during the culture proof, another solution is to turn off the lightbulb and put blue ice in the proofing box. This works quite well to maintain lower temperatures. Dough Consistency The amounts of flour and water listed in the various proofs and recipes are specified primarily as
then lift a portion from the periphery and pull it toward the center. Continue this around the dough mass to form a rough ball (see this page), then pat and pull into a loaf. Place the shaped loaves, seam side down, on a baking sheet or in bread pans and proof for 2 to 4 hours, until the loaves have doubled in bulk or nearly reached the tops of the pans. Proof for the first hour at room temperature and then at 85° to 90°F (29° to 32°C) in a proofing box. BAKING Place the pans with the shaped,
baked, remove it from the pan and let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 to 20 minutes before slicing. Walnut Bread This recipe calls for chopped walnuts, but other nuts are equally suitable and a mixture is even better. The ginger is essential for an exquisite flavor. MAKES ONE 1½-POUND (680 G) LOAF 1 cup (240 ml) culture from the Culture Proof (this page) 1 tablespoon (15 g) butter 1 cup (240 ml) milk 1 teaspoon salt ¾ cup (75 g) chopped walnuts ½ cup (120 ml) honey ½ teaspoon
sugar 2 tablespoons oil 1 tablespoon caraway seed ½ cup (70 g) unbleached all-purpose flour 2 cups (280 g) whole wheat flour 3 cups (270 g) coarse pumpernickel flour DOUGH PROOF Pour the culture into a mixing bowl. Add the milk, salt, sugar, oil, and caraway seed and mix. Combine the flours and add to the culture mixture, a cup at a time. When the dough becomes too stiff to mix by hand, turn out onto a floured board and knead in the remainder of the flour until the dough becomes smooth