The new shape of sourdough

I have been continuing to bake sourdough bread each week since I started my project back in April. I still have 2 starters going--my mom's recipe and the "wild yeast" one. However I've given up depending on the wild yeast to leaven well by itself. I "spike" the wild yeast dough with regular yeast to help it along. I know, it's totally cheating. Also I'm still using the "40-second knead" method that I discovered. It really seems to work and is gentle on my hand bones.

The breads are turning out to be pretty tasty, though not always pretty. We often use them for lunch-time sandwiches, or I'll just eat a hunk with butter or cheese for a snack. But I've still been bothered by the shape of my loaves--or lack of it. That's why, when I recently won a blog contest for a CSN gift certificate, I decided to use it to get some bread-making gear I'd been coveting since the beginning of this project. (Thanks ValleyWriter! I know I was thinking of a pasta maker, but I was so excited to find CSN stocks bannetons!)

Here are the 2 bannetons (or "brotforms," aka bread molds) that I got--one round and one long/oval. My dough is rising in the background.

For my first banneton experiment, I decided to put the entire batch of dough into the long/oval one to see what it would look like. The idea is to dust the banneton with lots of flour, set the dough to rise (seam upright, if you make a seam), then dump it out right-side-up on the baking sheet.

Here's my shaped dough on the baking sheet. The flour in the banneton makes a pretty pattern on the dough.

Then I slashed it with my dedicated box cutter. (Still gotta get one of those fancy bread blades.)

Here's the baked loaf. It was kind of huge, but I really liked the shape! Also see that gigantic wire rack it's resting on? Another purchase with my CSN prize! (It is LOAVELY. <--That was a typo, but I left it.)

Here's the loaf sliced for another view of the shape. Good size for sandwiches.

This is a different batch where I used both bannetons (the long one was not quite as full this time). I also used 2/5 whole wheat flour here, my first use of anything but King Arthur All-Purpose. The whole wheat experiment was OK, but it's not the same moist, sandwich-ready bread that we've gotten used to. I do want to get that fiber in there though. Maybe 1/5 whole wheat next time.

Final note: I just finished Michael Ruhlman's book The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America. I highly recommend it to anyone curious about what it's like to go to cooking school. I went to cooking school myself once, though a shorter program than the Culinary Institute of America's. Anyway, reading about the exacting nature and professionalism of the Culinary's chefs and students reminded me how much of an amateur newbie I am when it comes to bread baking. Trust me, I know this. But I enjoy sharing my little experiments with you anyway. Thanks for reading them!


ValleyWriter said...

Wow - those loaves look awesome! I might have to look into getting some bannetons myself; looks like a great purchase!!
I'm also going to go try the 40 second kneading method right now. Lord knows my hands could use a break. Thanks for all the great tips!

Alice said...

what beautiful bread you are making! and congrats on your award. any details on that? the whole wheat one looks less appetizing to me. how about a sandwich suggestion--are you slathering homemade mayo or pesto and adding fancy grilled meats and roasted veggies? or is more like just tomatoes and cheese?

"Prof. Kitty" said...

Thanks you VW & Alice! Yeah, the whole wheat was not such a hit. I've taken to just sneaking in 1/2 cup of "white whole wheat" flour into each batch. Not noticeable--but hope it's a tiny bit healthier. Sandwich suggestions sound SO good, we're def doing more tomatoes & cheese but grilled/roasted meats & veggies would be sublime. With tons of Hellman's of course ;)