Sourdough Bread

We are moving soon and due to the length between leaving this apartment and when I will next have an apartment, I decided I would have to abandon my sourdough starter. Had I thought it was exceptional, I could have possibly conscripted a friend to feed her while I was gone, but I am viewing this as a clean slate to start over when I return.

Rather than tossing it wantonly into the trash, it seemed appropriate to try to use the remainder up. On Sunday night I made a sponge with the the starter and on Monday afternoon I baked two loaves of sourdough bread.

I followed the recipe in Lon Walters’ Old West Baking Book for Classic Sourdough Bread.

This is one of my favorite cookbooks. Walters has created a fascinating and well-researched historical account of pioneer and Native American baking in the old west. I highly suggest this book if you are interested in bread baking. I can’t claim the recipes are always the best, but they are always authentic and the stories behind each entry are worth reading. The trials these pioneer cooks worked through in order to get their team fresh and warm bread are quite amazing. If you did not before, this book will make you appreciate bread in the fullest sense.

The loaves turned out alright. I thought the flavor and the crumb were quite wondeful, however the crust could use some work.

show hide 6 comments

Joe @ Culinary in the Desert - Have you tried to dry your starter at all? We’ve done that in the past to preserve it and send it to friends. It usually works quite well!

nosheteria - Yay, this helps a lot, and the eGullet site is amazing. That is some serious bread.

gemma - No, Joe, I hadn’t heard of that! That would be a very helpful thing to know. Do you dry it in a dehydrater or simply on a sheet of platic wrap or something? How ingenious!
I’m glad you found the links helpful nosheteria! Good luck with yours!

Kim - Hi Gemma,
Dry it on a piece of wax paper(I use air dry)and wrap it with saran wrap and then put it into a freezer bag.You then keep the bag in the freezer till you return from your trip. Have a nice trip.

keiko - Hi Gemma – what a fantastic looking sourdough! and I wish I could have your special sourdough starter! (didn’t know about drying, how interesting!) I started baking bread ‘again’ but I have a long way to go… Many thanks for the recipe for Pane al Cioccolato, I’ll definitely try it – do I have to use very good chocolate for that?

gemma - Hi Kim, thanks for the advice on drying and freezing, I feel so liberated!
Keiko, I don’t think you necessarily have to use very good chocolate for the bread. It does take on much of its flavor from the chocolate however. So, what I guess I mean is, don’t use chocolate that you wouldn’t enjoy the taste of on its own. When I make this again, I will definitely use the bittersweet variety again. I think it may have been too sweet for my tastes if I used regular sweetened. I hope that helpls!

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