Sourdough Olive Bread
- 14 oz cold water
- 10 oz sourdough starter
- 1 lb 10 oz bread flour
- 1 T fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 C pitted kalamata olives I prefer them chopped
- 2 t chili flakes
- 2 T chopped fresh rosemary
- Combine water and starter in mixing bowl and mix to break up starter. Add flour and water until mix comes together but does not clear sides of bowl (4-5 minutes). Cover dough with plastic wrap and let sit 20 minutes.
- Remove wrap and add the salt. Mix well on low speed for 2 minutes. Turn mixer speed to medium and mix 6-8 minutes more until dough snaps back quickly. (Dough temperature should be between 68-74 degrees F). Add in remaining ingredients to blend. (Some people think the chili pepper and rosemary are optional. I think they are an essential part of the flavor balance of the bread. Even if you’re a total wuss when it comes to spicy foods, give the chili pepper and rosemary a try.)
- Cover dough and let ferment at room temperature until not quite doubled. Punch dough down, divide in half, and shape gently into two balls. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Form into rounds, or batards and place on a cornmeal dusted baking sheet (or use willow baskets) and cover loosely with greased plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator and chill 12-18 hours.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Let bread dough come to room temperature – 2 to 3 hours. Uncover loaf, remove from baskets if using and slash a decorative pattern on top. Spray oven with water and close door quickly. Open door and place bread inside and spray again. Let bake 3 minutes and spray again. Repeat spraying 2 more times then let bread bake for 10 minutes undisturbed. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees F. and bake until deep golden brown and loaf temperature registers 205 F.
Basic Sourdough Bread
Servings: 2 1.5# loaves
- 2/3 cup Barm 4 ounces
- 1 cup Unbleached high gluten or bread flour 4.5 ounces
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup Water 1-2 ounces
- 4.5 cups Unbleached high gluten or bread flour 20.25 ounces, or other flour combination
- 1 tsp salt 0.5 ounce
- 1.5 – 1.75 cups water 12-14 ounces, lukewarm 90-100°F
- Semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
- Remove the barm from the refrigerator and measure it out 1 hour before making the firm starter to take off the chill. To do this, dip a 2/3 measuring cup into a bowl of water, then scoop it into the barm to fill (the wet cup will allow the barm to slide out easily). Transfer to a small bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and allow it to warm up for 1 hour.
- Add the flour to the bowl and mix together the barm and the flour, adding only enough additional flour so that you can knead this into a small ball, about the texture of french bread dough. You do not need to work this very long, just until all the flour is hydrated and the barm is evenly distributed. Lightly oil a small or mist the inside of a plastic bag with spray oil, and place the starter in the bowl or bag, turning to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl or seal the bag.
- Ferment at room temperature for approximately 4 hours, or until starter has at least doubled in size. If it takes more time than 4 hours, give it additional time, checking every hour or so. Then put it into the refrigerator overnight.
- Remove the starter from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough. Cut into about 10 small pieces with a pasty scraper or serrated knife. Mist with spray oil, cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.
- To make the dough, stir together the flour and salt in a 4 quart mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Add the starter pieces and enough water to bring everything together into a ball as you stir with a large metal spoon (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment).
- Sprinkle the counter with flour, transfer the dough to the counter, and knead by hand for 12-15 minutes (or mix with the dough hook for 4 minutes on medium low speed, allow the dough to rest for 5-10 minutes, and then mix for 4 minutes). Adjust the water or flour as needed. The dough should be firm but tacky, like firm french bread dough. It would pass the window pane test and register 77°F to 81°F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Ferment at room temperature for 3-4 hours, or until the dough has nearly doubled in size.
- Gently remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 2 equal pieces (about 22 each), or divide into smaller pieces if you are making rolls, being careful to degas the dough as little as possible. Gently shape the dough into boules, batards, or bagettes.
- Proof the dough in bannetons or proofing bowls on couches, or on parchment lined sheet pans that have been dusted with semolina flour or cornmeal. Regardless of the method, mist the exposed part of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover the dough with a towel or plastic wrap, or slip the pans into food-grade plastic bag. At this point you can either proof the loaves for 2-3 hours, or retard overnight in the refrigerator. If retarding, remove them from the refrigerator approximately 4 hours before you plan to bake them.
- Prepare the over for hearth baking making sure to have a steam pan in place. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Carefully remove the towel or plastic wrap from the dough, or slip the pan from the bag, 10 minutes before baking.
- Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal and gently transfer the dough to the peel or pan, carefully removing the cloth liner from the top of the dough for dough proofed in a bowl. (If the dough was proofed on a sheet pan, it can be baked directly on that pan.) Score the dough. Slide the dough onto a baking stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan). Pour one cup hot water into the steam pan and close the door. After 30 seconds, spray the oven walls with water and close the door. Repeat twice more at 30 second intervals. After the final spray, lower the over setting to 450°F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the loaves 180° if necessary for even baking and continue baking for another 10 – 20 minutes, or until the loaves are done. They should register 205°F in the center, be a rich golden brown all over and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
- Transfer the finished loaves to a rack and cool for at least 45 minutes before slicing or serving.
Servings: 2 boules
- 1 cup barm 7 ounces
- 2 cups sifted medium-grind whole wheat flour 9 ounces
- About 1/2 cup water 4 ounces, at room temperature
- 7 cups sifted medium-grind whole wheat flour 32 ounces
- 3 1/2 tsp salt 0.81 ounce, or 2 TBS course sea salt or kosher salt
- 2 – 2 3/4 cups water 18-22 ounces, 90-100°F, lukewarm
- semolina flour or cornmeal for dusting
- The day before making the bread, make the firm starter. In a 4 quart mixing bowl use a metal spoon to mix together the barm, flour, and enough water to form a firm ball. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for ~3 minutes, or until all the flour is hydrated and the ingredients are evenly distributed. Lightly oil a bowl, place the ball of dough in the bowl, and roll it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Ferment at room temperature for 4-6 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. Refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the starter from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the dough. Cut the starter into about 12 small pieces with a serrated knife or pastry scraper. Cover with a towel or plastic, wrap and let sit for 1 hour to take off the chill.
- This dough is too large for home mixers so knead it by hand. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sifted whole wheat flour, salt, and starter pieces. Stirring with a large metal spoon, add at least 2 1/4 cups of the water, or enough to bring together all the ingredients into a soft ball. Adjust the flour and water as you mix as needed.
- Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead the dough for 12-15 minutes, continuing to adjust the flour and water to form a supple, tacky but not sticky dough. All of the ingredients should be evenly distributed. The dough should pass the window pane test and register 77°-81°F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Ferment at room temperature for approximately 4 hours, or until the dough nearly doubles in size.
- Transfer the dough to the counter and gently form it into a large boule. Proof the dough in a banneton or prepare a proofing bowl large enough to hold the dough when it rises to nearly double its size. Place the dough, seam side up, in the banneton or bowl and mist the exposed part of the dough with spray oil. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap.
- Proof at room temperature for 2-3 hours, or until the dough grows 1.5 times in size, or retard overnight in the refrigerator. If your are retarding the dough, remove the dough from the refrigerator 4 hours before you plan to bake it.
- Prepare the over for hearth baking, making sure to have an empty steam pan in place. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Carefully remove the top layer of cloth or plastic wrap from the dough 10 minutes before baking.
- Generously dust a peel or the back of a sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal and gently transfer the dough to the peel or pan, carefully removing the cloth liner off the dough. Score the dough with a large #. Slide the dough onto a baking stone (or bake directly on the sheet pan). Pour two cups hot water into the steam pan and close the door. Immediately lower the over setting to 450°F. After 25 minutes rotate the loaf 180° if necessary for even baking lower the over temperature to 425°F. Continue to bake for another 30-40 minutes, until the dough registers 200°F in the center. The bread should be deeply browned. If the bottom seems to be getting too dark before the loaf reaches the desired temperature, place an inverted sheet pan under the bread to protect the bottom. Likewise, if the top gets too dark, tent a piece of aluminum foil over the loaf to shield it from the heat.
- Transfer the bread to a rack and let cool for at least two hours before slicing or serving. Store the bread in a brown paper bag. It should be good for 5-7 days.
- 1 cup dark rye or coarse whole rye flour 4.25 ounces, pumpernickel-grind, can substitute whole wheat, or bread flours
- 3/4 cup water water 6 ounces, at room temperature
DAY 2 through 4 (or longer if needed)
- 1 cup unbleached high-gluten or bread flour 4.5 Ounces,
- 1/2 cup water at room temperature 4 ounces
- Day 1: Mix the flour and water together in a bowl until they form a stiff ball of dough. Do not worry if the dough is very stiff, but be sure that all the flour is hydrated. Press this piece of dough into a 4-cup measuring beaker (or any clear glass container) and place a piece of tape on the beaker to mark the top of the dough. Cover the beaker with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Day 2: The dough should not have risen much, if at all, during this time. In a mixing bowl, combine the Day 2 ingredients with the Day l sponge, mixing with your hand or a spoon until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough will be somewhat softer and wetter than the Day 1 sponge. Return this to the beaker, pressing it down, and replace the old tape with a new piece of tape to mark the spot. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment for 24 hours at room temperature. Do not be put off by the strong, unpleasant aroma of the dough. This will eventually brighten as it nears the finish line.
- Day 3: Check to see if there has been a rise in the dough. There will probably be some fermentation but not a lot, perhaps a 50 percent rise. Regardless, discard half of the starter (or give it to a friend to cultivate), and mix the remaining half with the Day 3 ingredients, as on the previous day. It will be a little wetter. Again, return it to the beaker. It should press down to the same height as on Day 2. Re-tape the beaker to mark the top of the dough, cover, and ferment for 24 hours.
- Day 4: The sponge should have at least doubled in size; more is even better. If it is still sluggish and hasn’t doubled in size, allow it to sit out for another 12 to 24 hours. Otherwise, repeat as on Day 3, discarding half of the starter and mixing the remaining half with the new ingredients, returning it to the beaker as before. Cover and ferment until it at least doubles in size. This may take 4 to 24 hours. It is okay if it triples in size, but because it is now fairly soft and sponge-like, it will not be able to sustain that large of a rise without falling. If it falls easily when you tap the beaker, that is the sign that your seed culture is ready to be turned into a barm, or mother starter.
- Makes approximately 6 cups (2 1/2 pounds) barm
- 3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
- 2 cups (16 ounces) water, at room temperature
- l cup (7 ounces) seed culture
- Stir together the flour, water, and seed culture in a mixing bowl (you can discard the remaining seed culture or give it to a friend to build into his or her own barm). Make sure the seed culture is evenly distributed and all the flour is hydrated. It will make a wet, sticky sponge similar to a poolish. Transfer this sponge to a clean plastic, glass, or ceramic storage container twice as large as the barm. When transferring the barm into the container, repeatedly dip your hand, spatula, or bowl scraper in water to keep the barm from sticking to it. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for approximately 6 hours, or until the barm is bubbly. The plastic wrap will swell like a balloon, as will a plastic lid. When this happens, open the lid or release the plastic to let the gas escape (try not to breathe it as it escapes – the carbonic gas mixed with ethanol fumes will knock you across the room!). Replace the cover and refrigerate overnight before using. The barm will be ready to use the next day and will remain potent for 3 days. After that, or if you use more than half during the next 3 days, you will need to refresh it as described next.
Refreshing the Barm
- The standard refreshment for barm is to double it at least. However, you can also quadruple it, as the organisms in the barm are capable of feeding on a large refreshment and converting it into starter. I double the barm at each feeding if I want a very sour bread, but I triple or quadruple it when I want a less sour flavor. Remember, it takes longer for the bacteria to work than the yeast, so while a larger feeding dilutes both the bacterial and the wild-yeast communities, the yeast bounces back faster than the bacteria, creating a strong, but less acidic, leavening sponge. Eventually, the bacterial fermentation does catch up, by the second or third day, and the sponge becomes quite acidic and sour (with a pH level of about 3.5).
- It is important to understand what happens when you refresh the barm. After 4 to 7 days, the acids and protease enzymes in a barm that has not been refreshed break down the gluten, turning what was at first a strong, stringy sponge into a protein-weak, potato-soup-like consistency. There are still plenty of live organisms to leaven and flavor bread, but they will make a flaccid dough. For this reason, it is advisable to feed your barm 3 days or less before you plan to use it (ideally, the day before). If you have a lot of barm but haven’t fed it for a while, discard all but 1 cup and refresh it with 4 cups of flour and 2 1/2 to 3 cups water, stirring until all the flour is hydrated.
- If you have been using and feeding your barm regularly, you do not necessarily have to discard any. However, what you do not want to do is, for example, use l cup of barm from your supply to make some bread, then refresh the remaining barm with only l cup flour and some water. You must always at least double the remaining barm.You can do this by either throwing or giving some away before you refresh it, or using up more before refreshing it (remember, you have a 3-day window before you need to feed it again).
- If you do not plan to use the barm for a while, do not throw any away until you plan to refresh it again, and follow the guidance given above to refrigerate or freeze it in a tightly sealed container. Since you do not want to freeze a glass or ceramic container, you should transfer the barm to a zippered freezer bag that has been misted with spray oil (allow enough room for expansion and gas development).
- Use high-gluten flour for the refreshments (except in the case of a rye barm), as it has more gluten than in bread flour to withstand the acid and enzymatic degradation.
- You can refresh in two ways. One is to weigh the amount of barm you plan to refresh and the other is to eyeball it. I use both methods and find that as long as you stay in the doubling to quadrupling ballpark, you will have no problem keeping your mother strong, active, and clean tasting. By clean-tasting I mean that no off-flavors develop, such as a musty or cheesy flavor caused by over-fermenting at warm temperatures or by leaving it out too long. This allows unwelcome bacteria to join the party or for the yeast to create too much alcohol, resulting in what we think of as a yeasty flavor. The flavor is a combination of alcohol and glutathione, an unpleasant tasting amino acid released by yeast as it dies.
- The weighing method is simple: Weigh the barm and calculate how much flour and water it will take to double, triple, or quadruple the weight (the easiest way is to figure equal parts water and flour). Thus, if you plan to refresh 1 pound of barm, you can build it to 2 pounds by adding 8 ounces each of flour (1 3/4 cups) and water (1 cup); or you can quadruple it by adding 1 1/2 pounds flour (5 1/4 cups) and 1 1/2 pounds (3 cups) water. The larger the refreshment, the longer the fermentation time, usually 4 to 6 hours, depending on the size of the refreshment and how cold the barm was when you started. If you are using a cold barm just out of the refrigerator, warm the water up to about 90°F to compensate and to hasten the onset of fermentation. Never let the starter actually be warm, however. It is best for the organisms we want to cultivate, the lactic- and acetic-producing bacteria, if the starter ferments slowly, between 65° and 75°F, or at room temperature.
- When the starter is bubbly and foamy, put it in the refrigerator overnight before using it. Technically, though you could begin using it as soon as it foams up, but I wait for the overnight development because I believe it gives the bread more complexity of flavor. Either way, with a ripe and ready barm, you are ready to move on to the next build.