When Nathan and I ordered our sourdough starter we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Within 12 hours of receiving the starter, it needed to be fed, watered, and divided multiple times and basically had the same needs as a small child or puppy. Before we knew it, we were planning our schedules around a smelly, doughy blob. However, we figure it’s worth it though… if we take care of it our sourdough starter it could last longer than we do and be the basis for many tasty loaves of bread for future generations (seriously, you can keep your yeast starters alive indefinitely). The sourdough starter the we have is actually descended from a starter that’s been lovingly nurtured since the 1700s! Very cool if not slightly disturbing information.
Like any bread, sourdough is a little tricky and will take some experimentation to get just right. Our first loaves were really good but we both agreed that we would like the bread to be a bit more risen/lighter and to have a more prominent and strong sourdough flavor. Nathan doesn’t know this yet but I’ve also decided that he needs to build a brick oven in our nonexistent yard that we would devote solely to artisan bread and pizza. A girl can dream, right?
Sourdough bread is great because it is so versatile…it makes awesome sandwich bread, dinner bread, french toast bread, or croutons and I’m excited to perfect our process. We’ll keep you posted on our progress and re-post when the recipe has crossed over from great to perfect (or, if we never post again it means that our sourdough starter has become sentient and taken over our condo)!
When I was thinking about a wine to pair with this bread the image of the French countryside came to my mind. I’m not sure why because it could just as easily have been San Francisco sourdough but this is my mental image and I’m going with it. Anyway, I scoured the French wine section for a wine that I thought would mimic some of the earthy sourness that comes out in the bread. This wine claimed to have a sour cherry flavor so I thought it would fit the bill and it did! It had enough fruitiness to balance the sourdough but enough sourness to be a good complement to the flavors in the bread….if that makes any sense. It’s also an affordable French wine ($9.99!) so I highly recommend it!
I have to admit that this is my first sour ale. I honestly didn’t really know what to expect, nor do I have any previous sour ales to compare this one to. Mostly, I just thought I was being clever by pairing a ‘sour’ beer with sourdough bread and I hoped that the sourness of the bread would compliment whatever sour flavors were in the beer. Well, it sorta worked. By itself, the beer is an intriguing balance of tart flavors and sweet cherry flavors with a nice light, dry, and fizzy body that bubbles in your mouth. After taking a bite of our tasty homemade sourdough bread however, you couldn’t really taste the sour flavors of the beer so the sweet flavors were over pronounced and it just ended up tasting candy-sweet. Not the best pairing in the world but to be honest I’m not sure what other beer would be better…
1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1. Combine all of the ingredients, kneading to form a smooth dough.
2. Allow the dough to rise, in a covered bowl, until it’s doubled in size, about 90 minutes.
3. Gently divide the dough in half; it’ll deflate somewhat.
4. Gently shape the dough into two oval loaves. Place the loaves on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
5. Spray the loaves with lukewarm water.
6. Make two fairly deep diagonal slashes in each; a serrated bread knife, wielded firmly, works well here.
7. Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s a very deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven, and cool on a rack