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sourdough-bread recipe

Date:    Fri, 06 Jan 95 15:29:02 EST
 From:    mfaison@pen.k12.va.us (Michele L. Faison)
 Poilane's Natural Sourdough Bread (tested)
 from "A FOOD LOVERS' GUIDE TO PARIS" 1993 edition
 (except for measurements, comments in parens are to indicate
 what I have tried or altered.  Except for thse comments, the
 "I" in the recipe is the original author)
 "Sourdough starter:
 1 cup water, at room temperature
 2 cups (280 g) bread flour
 "1.  Days 1 to 4:  In a small bowl, combine 1.4 cup off water
 and 1/2 cup (70g) flour and stir until the water absorbs all of
 the flour and forms a soft dough.  Transfer the dough to a
 lightly floured work surface and knead into a smooth ball.  It
 should be fairly soft and sticky (could be done in a bread
 machine).  Return the starter to the bowl, cover with plastic
 wrap and set aside at room temp for 24 hours.  The starter
 should rise slightly and take on a faintly acidic aroma.
 Repeat this for 3 more days, each day adding an additional 1.4
 cup or water and 1/2 cup of flour.  Eac day, the starter should
 rise slightly and should become more acidic.
 "Final Loaf:
 3 cups water, at room temp
 1 T fine sea salt (I sometimes use only 2 teaspoons)
 5 1/2 to 6 cups (980g to 1 kg 120 g) bread flour
 "2.  Day 5:  you are ready to make bread.  Transfer the starter
 to a large, shallow bowl, add the 3 cups of water, the salt,
 and with a wire whisk, stir for about 1 minute to thoroughly
 dissolve the starter.  Add the flour, a bit at a time, stirring
 well after each addition.  After you have added about 5 cups
 of flour, the dough should be firm enough to knead. **(I take it
 up to this point on the dough cycle of my bread machine.  I
 find that I need to take it out to knead because of volume
 after I've added about 800g flour--BTW, I always weigh rather
 than measure the flour.)
 "Lightly flour a large, clean work surface, and transfer the
 dough to the floured surface.  If your bowl is large and
 shallwo enough, you can knead the bread right in the bowl,
 reducing cleanup later.  Begin kneading, at first ffolding teh
 dough over itself to incorporate air--it may actually be too
 soft to knead, adding additional flour until the dough is
 nicely elastic and soft, but still firm enough to hole itself
 in a ball.  Knead for a full 10 minutes.  Set a timer to be
 sure there's no cheating.
 "3.  Form the loaf and reserve the starter:  Pinch off a handful
 of dough, about 1 cup, to set aside for the next loaf.
 Transfer this starter to a medium-size covered container--
 see NOTE.  Shape the remaining dough into a tight ball by folding
 it over itself.  Place a large floured cloth in a round,
 shallow bolw or basket--one about 10" wide works well--and
 place the dough, smooth(top) side down in the cloth-lined bowl
 or basket.  Loosely fold the cloth over the dough. **(this part
 of the technique has NEVER worked for me.  I pam and flour a 9"
 metal bowl that has 3" sides at a right angle to the bottom.  I
 raise the dough in this.  However, I plan to buy a French
 linen-lined basket on my next trip over)** Set aside at room
 temperature for 6 to 12 hours.  You have a lot of flexibility
 here.  A 6-hour rise is the minumum, but I (the author is still
 speaking) often prepare the bread in the evening and bake it
 the next morning, allowing the dough to rise for up to 12
 hours.  I have even forgotten the bread, baking it 24 hours
 later, and it was deliciously light and airy.  The dough will
 rise very slowly, but a good loaf should just about double in
 size. **(My house is fairly cold, so I have made a proofing box
 out of my oven.  I put a heating pad on the bottom shelf and
 the dough (covered with a damp cloth) on the top shelf, close
 the door, and go away ffor 12 hours.  If I need to use the oven
 in the meantime, I just get the dough out and put it nearby,
 then return it and the heating pad once the oven has cooled
 "4.  At least 40 minutes before placing the dough in the oven,
 preheat it--with a baking stone--to 500 degrees F. **(It will
 cook adequately without a stone.  Results are MUCH better 
 with one.)
 "5.  Lightly flour a baking peel or paddle, or a flat baking
 sheet, invert the loaf onto it, and slash the top of the
 bread several times with a razor blade to a depth of about 1/4
 inch, so it can expand regularly during baking.  With a quick
 jerk of the wrists, propel the bread onto the baking stone.
 Spray the bottom and sides of the oven with water.  Spray 3
 more times during the next 6 minutes.  The spray will help give
 the loaf a good crust, and will give the dough a boost during
 rising.  The bread will rise very slowly, reaching its full
 height during the first 15 minutes of baking.  ONce the bread
 befins to brown nicely--after about 15 minutes--reduce the heat
 to 425 and continue baking until the crust is a deep, golden
 brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, 35 to 40 minutes
 TOTAL time.  Transfer to a baking rack to cool.  do not slice the
 bread for at least 1 hour, for it will continue to bake as it
 rests.  For best results, store the bread in a paper or cloth
 bag once it is thoroughly cool.  Plastic will tend to soften
 the dense crust you worked so hard to create.  The bread should
 remain deliciously fresh for 3 to 4 days.  **(I don't have a
 peel, and my baking sheet has a lip. Placing the baking sheet
 directly on the baking stone works well, but I plan to borrow a
 peel to see if it's better before buying one)
 "*NOTE:  After you have made your first loaf and have saved the
 starter, begin at step 2 for subsequent loaves.  Proceed
 normally through the rest of the recipe, always remembering to
 save aboutr 1 cup of the starter.  The starter may be stored at
 room temp in a covered plastic container or in a bowl covered
 with a damp cloth for 1 or 2 days, or refirgerated for up to 1
 week.  Reactivate teh starter every week by adding 1/4 cup
 water and 1/2 cup (70 g) flour.  do not use more than 1 cup of
 starter per loaf.  If you find you can't bake bbread every week
 and you end up with more than 1 cup of starter, offer the
 excess to a friend, add it to a yeast dough, or as a last
 resort, discard it.  If refrigerated, remove the starter from
 the refrigerator at least 2 hours before preparing the dough.
 Although starter can be frozen, I find it takes so long to
 reactivate, one might just as well begin with a new starter."
 Some more notes from Michele:  
 ***See my previous post re freezing.  It worked for me.
 **Never add commercial yeast to this dough or starter.  It will
 kill off the natural yeast.
 **I've read that sourdough starter becomes rancid if not used.
 That's why you should give away excess starter.
 **If you decide to add other ingredients as you experiment,
 remember to do so after you have saved the starter ffor the
 next loaf, so you don't "contaminate the starter" or add
 something which will make it spoil.  I've read cautions about
 not adding any sugars, other starches, etc.
 **I have been experimenting with different herbs lately.
 Rosemary, added after saving the starter, is particularly good.
 **Will let you know how the rye works.  I am going to add the rye
 before saving the starter, but save this new starter separately.
 kwvegan vegan