Monthly Archives: June 2017

Cold Proofing Sourdough Bread … Two Experiments

When I first started working with sourdough, I was discouraged by the need to follow the precise timing which required a 12 hr baking schedule. When I read that it was possible to cold proof in the fridge (both the bulk and final proof) I was excited. Until my bread didn’t rise even after more than 48 hrs in the fridge. It turns out that was the fault of my less than active starter. My second starter, the canned pineapple juice/whole wheat one, doubles happily at room temp (68-70 deg F) and is ecstatic at higher temperatures. However, it will even make the dough rise in the fridge (34-38 deg F). All of which makes baking sourdough almost as convenient as baking with yeast.

My latest pair of experiments is an examination of the relative oven spring/bake that comes from transferring a cold proofed dough into a cold dutch oven, and then placing it into a preheated oven) versus transferring the dough into a dutch oven that had been preheated along with the oven.

For the first experiment, I started with a plain, no knead sourdough bread recipe from Carole L. One of the unexpected benefits of cold proofing is that your chilly dough is very easy to score. You can get creative with your lame and end up with sharply defined slashes that open up dramatically during baking. NOTE: Since this isn’t a high hydration recipe, there won’t be big holes in the crumb.

After 12 hours in the fridge, the dough is turned out and slashed, then baked.

For the second experiment, I added sun dried tomatoes and dried basil to a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and then stirred the add-ins into the second stage of the dough. This dough was cold proofed 16 hrs before being turned out, slashed and baked in a pre-heated dutch oven

Conclusion, there isn’t an measurable difference in the oven spring of the two loaves.

The crunchy crust and soft crumb make this bread great to dip into extra virgin olive oil, an artichoke or other dip, a hearty stew or slather with hummus.

Sourdough Anadama Bread

Anadama bread is a traditional New England yeast bread which uses cooked cornmeal and molasses to give it its distinctive texture and sweetness. I recently ran across mention of the bread and was intrigued. I just happened to have about half a cup of Grandma’s Molasses in my pantry which I couldn’t think of a use for … a happy accident you say?

No, DESTINY.

Oh, and since I had just taken my jar of sourdough starter out of the fridge to feed up, because I ran out of bread (horrors!), I decided to convert the recipe I had to sourdough.

This is a moist dense bread with a touch of sweetness and crunch in every bite. Great warm with a smear of room temperature butter or to dip into egg yolks for breakfast or brunch.

Sourdough Anadama Bread – makes about 1.1 kg dough, enough for 2 loaves baked in a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan

1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
3 1/4 – 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup room temperature water
1/4 cup cornmeal, fine or coarse
2 tbsp unsalted butter, margarine or shortening
1/2 cup molasses (Grandma’s molasses, fancy)
1 tsp salt

In a large mixing bowl with a lid (or use plastic wrap if it doesn’t have one) combine the sourdough starter, warm water and 2 cups of all purpose flour, reserving the rest of the flour for the next day. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight (12-16 hrs).

The next day, place 1/2 cup room temperature water and the cornmeal in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Cook until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter or margarine, salt and molasses. Let cool to lukewarm.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooled cornmeal mixture with the sourdough mixture; stir until well blended.

Add the remaining flour about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together into a ball, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and put in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, about 1-2 hours depending on your starter.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a loaf. Place the loaf in a lightly greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes but it may take longer.

NOTE: I ended up with about 1.1 kg of dough, too much for a single pan, so I split the dough up into 2 loaves. I let them rise for about 1 hr 15 minutes before I judged they were ready to bake..

Pat the loaves down flat to distribute the dough evenly in the pan after shaping the loaf.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.