Sunday, February 06, 2011

New Sourdough Experiments

I just pulled a batch of hamburger buns from the oven that are made with the stale leftover baguettes from earlier in the week. I soaked the slices in the initial starter/water sponge replacing part of the additional bread flour with bread. Then, after 12 hours, I added the salt, sugar, and remaining flour to finish the dough. It went through two long rises after that, which is why I am baking at 9 PM. They have a somewhat flecked appearance from the whole wheat baguette crumbs, but otherwise look just like regular buns. I've read that using stale bread in new loaves enhances the flavour and extends the life of the bread-I guess we'll see.

On Thursday, I made a batch of sweet dough from the sourdough starter, but instead of adding eggs, I used tons of butter and cream. I wanted to see what it would be like baking with it over a few days, in batches. It kept well in the fridge, and made really magnificent sticky buns Friday morning. As with most sourdough baking, the only real, "trick" is leaving sufficient time for rising. Overnight on the counter was fine for the assembled rolls. In the morning, they went into a hot oven and came out perfect. The very runny marmalade went well with chopped-up bittersweet chocolate, or at least that's what Mr. ETB's co-workers said as they demolished the tray of pastry in less than five minutes. I don't believe people were really milling about Mr. ETB's cubicle trying to lick his face though. Sometimes, he exaggerates.

This morning, the leftover dough became cinnamon crescent rolls. I was concerned the dough might be heavy without eggs, but it turned out fine. Again, long, slow rises and a hot oven seem to solve most baking problems. As the sourdough matures, it gets stronger, and as far as I can tell ( remembering back a couple years) the last starter I lost in the tornado (gee, there's a sentence you don't come across at every cooking blog) was never this powerful, or interesting. I might just be a better baker now, who knows?

I guess what I'm trying to communicate is, don't be afraid to experiment. Certainly some loaves will be better, but so what? If you don't like it, chop the loaf up and re-bake it into a new loaf!

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