Yeast are a group of unicellular fungi. More than a thousand species of yeasts have been described. The most commonly used yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which was domesticated for wine, bread and beer production thousands of years ago. Fermentative yeasts produce their energy by converting sugars into carbon dioxide and ethanol (alcohol). In brewing, the ethanol is used, while in baking the carbon dioxide raises the bread and the ethanol evaporates.
To make sourdough you must first have a sourdough starter. One of my Chef’s gave me a little of his starter so that I could make my own sourdough bread. Making a starter is easier than waking up at 6:30 in the morning. Mix 1 cup of water and 1 cup of non bleached rye flour. Rye flour adds extra sugars and nutrients for the yeast. If you don’t want to continue with rye you can always switch but it is good for giving your starter a jump start. Let sit uncovered until you notice it start to rise and get of lots of bubbles.
What is happening is fermentation of wild yeasts and Lactobacillus Brevis. The yeast and the bacteria are already present in the flour and the air. Once the flour is hydrated the enzymes break down the carbohydrates from the wheat and converts into sugars which provide food for the yeast. The Lactobacillus then feeds off the byproduct of fermentation causing the culture to go sour by excreting lactic acid which prevents it from spoiling.
To feed it remove half of your starter and discard the other half. Whisk into 1/2 cup of water and mix with your hand 1/2 cup of flour. Repeat this process every day to keep your starter alive.
The day before you bake your bread feed your starter a cup of water and a cup of flour but do not discard any.
- 2 cups of water
- 9.6 oz of sourdough starter
- 4 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 c + 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
- 1T+1t salt
Mix water and starter well in a bowl and then incorporate your flour. Let sit for 15 minutes and then add your salt. This process is first fermentation. If you have a stand mixer then mix for 2 minutes on low speed and then 2 minutes on medium speed. If you do not have a stand mixer you can do it just as effectively by hand. Just simply kneed the dough until it becomes elastic when you pull it apart. Place in a bowl and let sit covered until it has doubled in size.
After the dough has doubled fold three times and then punch flat and let rest for 60 minutes.The longer the bread is allowed to rise the more flavor it will get. The dough is folded over and punched to compress it and gives slight development to gluten.(Gluten is a 2-part protein consisting of Glutenin – provides strength, and Gliaden – Provides elasticity. Together these proteins allow the dough to stretch but are strong enough to keep in carbon dioxide for leavening). This step accomplishes four goals:
- Expels carbon dioxide
- Redistributes yeast for further growth
- Equalizes temperature throughout the dough
- Relaxes gluten
After an hour punch dough down again and cut in half and round the two halves into large balls, cover and let sit another ten minutes. This is known as bench rest aka secondary fermentation.
Shape into loaves and let rest for 1 hour and then place on a dusted sheet pan and cover and refrigerate over night.
After your dough has sat in the fridge over night it is now time to bake. Remove your dough from the fridge and let sit for an hour to warm up. Set your oven to 475*F. Place a pan of water in your oven for humidity. Take a sharp knife or a razor blade and make a few shallow slices along the length of your dough. During the cooking process the dough will split anyway, this step is to insure that it will split where you want it to and not where it wants to. If you are going for more of a rustic look then you can skip this step. Right before you put your bread in the oven give it a few squirts of water the help achieve a beautiful crust. Once your bread is in the oven reduce the temp to 450*F and cook for 12 minutes. Remove the water from the oven and then bake another 20 minutes.
You are looking for a nice golden brown crust that gives you that beautiful crackling sound when lightly squeezed. This sound isn’t something you can read about, you have to experience it to truly understand the beauty of the sound that a fresh loaf of bread can make. It might be life changing if you are not careful.
Place your fresh loaf of sourdough bread on a rack or some surface that can allow it to cool from every surface. If you place it on a counter the bottom can become soggy.
Bridgewater Corners, VT
Double Bag is a beautiful thing. I was introduced to this brew last year when I moved to Vermont. It is definitely one of my favorite Vermont beers. They won the Malt Advocate’s Beer of the Year in 2001.
Appearance – Dark copper, amber, decent tan head. Good lacing.
Aroma – Very yeasty. Rich malts, caramel, slight hoppiness.
Taste – Nice caramel malts, pretty much tastes how it smells, somewhat bitter.
Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, not too heavy. Not too boozy, leaves mouth slightly dry.
Drinkability – Good beer, good party beer but not in a frat beer type of way. Although I would consider joining a frat that provided a keg of Long Trail at their parties.