If you've been following my instagram story this month you've noticed my foray into sourdough baking once again. My two starters named Luella and Ramona each produced their first loaves last weekend. Luella is a wild Nantucket yeast starter that I created by leaving a mixture of flour and water out on the counter until it became bubbly as the yeast in the air and on the grain worked its magic. Ramona was gifted to me from my sweet friend Emilie, who sent some of her starter that she dehydrated. I brought Ramona to life with regular feedings and after a couple of days she was ready to bake some bread.
Sourdough can be very intimidating with precise measurements, percentages, techniques, and baking vessels. There are so many ways to do it. Thankfully Emilie has just released a wonderful companion for the sourdough novice. In Artisan Sourdough Made Simple, Emilie takes the reader though step by step instructions for creating crusty chewy rustic loaves to rival those of a centuries old European bakery. She breaks down the language, techniques, measurements, and entire process from creating your own sourdough starter to the moment you get to tear into your first loaf and also includes ideas for what to do with your leftover starter and recipes for accompaniments to your sourdough creations.
I decided on making her High-Hydration Sourdough recipe because I wanted those big air pockets in the crumb. Beyond the basic measurements and method, each step is further explained in tremendous detail. There are visual guides for the first stages of mixing the dough through bulk rise, as well as shaping and scoring the dough before baking. I purchased a banneton, which is a cloth lined cane basket made especially for the second rise of the dough, (after its has been shaped by hand) as well as a bread lame, which is essentially a razor blade used to score the top of the loaf into any type pattern you fancy.
I was completely happy with how my first loaves came out. Sometimes your first loaf can be a little wonky and maybe your starter needs to mature a little more, as I think is the case with Luella. I achieved nice air pockets with Ramona though, and a nice chewy but not gummy crumb with a crispy crust. I'm ready to bake another batch this weekend and have my eye on Emilie's sticky date, walnut and orange loaf next. Beyond her basic everyday and high-hydration sourdough recipes she includes a large selection of approachable recipes for whole grain, sweet and savory breads, buns, rolls, bagel and other yummy creations.
This is a must have book for any avid bread baker out there or for anyone who has ever wanted to try making bread the old way, which is basically what sourdough is - how bread has been made for thousands if years! Also sourdough does not necessarily mean your bread will be sour tasting. I love the sour tang which can be achieved by a longer fermentation process (rise time), but your sourdough starter is just fresh yeast that can create every kind of bread commercial yeast does. This is just the "old way" and in my humble opinion is worth the extra waiting time. Don't get me wrong, dry active yeast is great for when you want those cinnamon buns on Sunday morning and are starting them at 8am but once you get into your sourdough baking rhythm you can use your stater for everything.
So without further ado, here is my take on Emilie's High Hydration Sourdough method, in which I switched up the type flour to what I had on hand - all purpose and whole wheat. Oh and I'm giving away a copy of the book on my Instagram feed so hop over there to enter!!! If you can't wait order the book here. Also check out Emilie's amazing food blog, The Clever Carrot, for great family friendly recipes including a sourdough beginners guide post.
from Artisan Sourdough Made Simple by Emilie Raffa
makes 1 loaf
NOTES: Emilie includes loads of notes for each step, visual tutorials for stretching and folding the dough, shaping and scoring the loaf, as well as how to create your own starter from scratch in the book.