Baking with Sourdough -- Photos
This is the starter about six hours after feeding. Its consistency is that
of a thick, bubbly pancake batter, and it has a definite “sour”
This is the sponge just after it's been mixed. It will rise to the top of
this bowl overnight, then fall back to about the same level.
Mixing the Dough
The dough is almost done. It's formed a ball around the dough hook, but
is still a little sticky: if you touch it, some of the dough will stick
to your finger. It's also sticking to the sides of the bowl; when done
it should “clean&rdquo the bowl — although that doesn't mean
the bowl will be spotless! I'd add another ¼ cup of flour here,
and give it a few more minutes to knead.
Dough in Pans
I've divided the dough in half, and formed the rough loaves. There are a
lot of ways to form a loaf: my approach is to stretch the dough and fold
it back on itself several times, followed by patting it into shape. This
gives a fairly rustic appearance to the final loaves, as you'll see later.
I also coat the inside of the pans with butter, which makes it easier to
remove the loaves, as well as adding some (slight) flavor. Finally, note
the glass pans, which provide a very even heat to the loaves.
Ready to Bake
The dough has risen about six hours in this picture, and has more than
doubled in volume. I generally let it rise for 3–4 hours undisturbed,
and then check up on it ever half hour or so. When it hasn't visibly risen
in the past half hour, it's time to bake. Note that one side of the front
loaf is lower than the other: this is the result of my forming technique.
Out of the Oven
The final result. Bread shrinks slightly when it bakes, so you'll know
it's done when it drops cleanly out of the pan — although it may
stick at isolated points, in which case a knife along the side of the
pans will help. It should also sound hollow when you tap the loaf. Some
of the people who've used my starter complain that the loaves never brown.
I suspect this happens because (1) there aren't enough sugars left to
easily caramelize, and (2) they aren't using a high-enough initial
temperature (or maybe their oven looses heat too quickly). The first you
can't do anything about (other than adding sugar to the dough), so pay
attention to the second.
Copyright © Keith D Gregory, all rights reserved