This loaf turned out so well that I’m hugely encouraged to carry on. The bread raised well. The crust is crunchy. The crumb is tender and moist. The flavor is good, and the loaf is almost tall enough to make sandwiches.
I don’t know how Mike of Sourdough Home gets those wow-tall loaves with this recipe. I wonder if it’s the flour he uses. Or perhaps he kneads the bread longer. But I’m not complaining. I’m still learning, and this loaf is good.
I switched some things up this time, and because I want to keep as close a record as I can of what works and what doesn’t, once again I am recording each step and process in photographs, as I will continue to do until I have a reliable method that gives consistently good bread every time.
Naturally, it all starts with the starter.
Earlier today, I refreshed the starter with fresh, organic whole wheat flour and filtered water. It is mildly aromatic of yeasty sourdough. When I stir it with a fork, it feels fluffy under the tines. Gassy bubbles permeate the mixture.
After measuring out 210 grams, I add water, oil, honey, flour and salt in the same quantities as with the other loaves, still following Mike’s recipe mentioned, and linked to, earlier on this page.
Next, I combine them with a spoon-shaped, silicone spatula, then place them in my stand mixer’s bowl, ready to knead with the dough hook. The mixer speed is set at 2.
The dough quickly forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.
After about four minutes kneading, when the dough is fairly elastic and tacky to the touch, I turn the machine off and let the ball rest for five minutes to help the flour absorb more of the moisture. While I wait, I grease my rising bowl with two teaspoons olive oil.
When the timer dings, I start the mixer again and let it knead for five minutes, then stop and do the windowpane test. The dough tears. It is also quite wet and sticky. I turn the machine back on, add one tablespoon flour, and knead for two more minutes. This time, the windowpane test works. No tears!
The dough is ready for the first rise. I shape it quickly into a ball and roll it in the greased bowl to coat the surface with oil. Then I set it in the oven with the light on and head out to play with my two-year-old granddaughter. Almost four hours later, we return just in the nick of time. The dough has more than doubled and is warm and yeasty.
Suppertime, and I may not get back to the dough today, so I punch it down gently, re-form the ball, cover the bowl and set it in the refrigerator to slow-rise overnight.
Punching the dough one more time, I shape it into a loaf and place it gently into my buttered, cast-iron loaf pan, covering it loosely with an opened reusable sandwich bag. Then I set the pan in the oven. Two hours later, the loaf has doubled in size and just peeks over the top of the sides of the pan. Time to bake!
After forty minutes in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven, the internal temperature of the bread is a little over 200 degrees, but it thumps with a nice hollow sound when I tap the bottom of the loaf.
I replace the loaf in the pan and let it continue baking outside the oven five more minutes before turning it out on the cooling rack.
Later that evening, anxious to taste the now-cooled bread, we slice it and make a light supper of fresh fruit, crudités and fried egg sandwiches. Simple fare! But oh so good. This is a fine loaf.