Date: Fri, 06 Jan 95 15:29:02 EST
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (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)
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.
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
"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.