Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sunflower State Sourdough, First Attempt

Once I get past the obvious that the loaf leaves much to be desired in slashing and shaping, there is a lot of good here in my first attempt to make a new signature loaf. Whether it's childishness or hubris, I want to call it my "Sunflower State Sourdough".

The loaf is made from a variation of my starter and flours from Heartland Mills of Marienthal, KS. My problem with the rather flat oval probably originated from my shaping the dough like a batard and then fitting it into my oval banneton. The HM All Purpose flour isn't a high gluten AP so I think my best bet is to go with the batard shaping and proof the dough as a batard. That's a loaf style that I need much more practice in so Attempt #2 probably won't be very dramatic in appearance.

The starter turned out to a 2 1/2 stage build. My first step used a seed from my madre stock, HM AP, and a bit of HM Golden Buffalo. Just before the peak, I stirred the starter down- the half step, and let it rise again. At the second peak, I added more of the HM AP/GB combination and water, stirred down, and let the starter get back to work. I left the starter in the basement at 64F so I could sleep instead of starting my procedures at 430AM. Later on, I proofed the loaf, which was wrapped up, in our 54F garage to give myself a better chance to observe the proofing.

The goodness in the loaf is in how different and how much better this loaf is in flavor than some of my recent loaves. First of all, the crumb has a great deal more substance and texture to it. This isn't to say that it's really chewy or rubbery. It's just more bread in character. Don't be confused, I haven't quite got my finger on what it is yet. My first assumption is that it's due to the nature of the HM AP flour because I didn't use anything new in my procedures other than a couple extra minutes more in the bake to see if I could get more color in the outer crust. At $6.50/5 # of flour, the HM AP is twice as expensive as my usual Dakota Maid bread flour or all purpose flour. Plus, it's hard to find in the KC metropolitan area. Shipping costs from the mill are high and driving almost 400 miles to buy at the mill isn't a reasonable thing to do.

I guess my learning curve better be a steep and fast one if I'm going to develop a reliable formula before I have to declare bankruptcy.

Comments, humor, and questions are welcome.

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