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Warm freshly laid eggs

March 3, 2010

My sourdough rolls sit on a tray looking like just-laid eggs, filling the kitchen with that freshly baked bread smell. Mmmm. Makes me happy to see these rolls. And they taste fantastic too – just the right balance between chewiness and softness, under a crispy crust. The family is in love with the sourdough bread rolls too and since they keep beautifully for a few days (just like the sourdough loaves), they are a cinch to make. I now make a slightly bigger batch of bread for my twice weekly baking session, and use one third for rolls and the other two thirds to make into two loaves of bread. They take a few more minutes of effort to shape up each roll, but it is quite a therapeutic process.

Did I tell you that I have simplified my sourdough bread recipe yet again? If it gets any simpler it might just have to make itself. My electronic scales keep dying on me, and so I am back to my old, very imprecise mechanical scales. That means that getting fussy about 405gms or 767gms is a bit of a joke. Add to that my inability to get the exact quantity of sourdough starter needed (405gm) – I would sometimes end up with less and sometimes with more. No time to waste waiting to feed up some more, and loathe to chuck out extra, meant that I took the lazy way out and changed my recipe….and method.

The lazy woman’s approach to sourdough bread

Use sourdough starter, water and flour in a 1:1:2 ratio. Simple. Just use the same weight of water as your starter, and double it for flour.

Mix together and leave covered on the bench for 20 minutes. Knead as per the wet dough technique (a folding, stretching action described in earlier posts I think). Spray your bowl with some oil and pop the dough back in. Cover and leave for an hour. Take it out onto the bench and fold over three or four times. Back into the oiled bowl for another hour. At this stage I used to shape the loaves and put them into their proving baskets before putting them in the fridge overnight. Now, since by this stage of the game it is usually around 10pm at night and I seriously can’t be bothered, I just put it back in the oiled bowl. The next morning I take it out of the fridge and shape it up into loaves and rolls. I place them on oven trays covered with baking paper (I no longer use the proving baskets or the floured tea towel – less to wash up!). After an hour I bake the rolls (allowing the loaves slightly longer to come to room temperature and rise some more). I bake them with my oven at 200C fan forced for 20 minutes. I then pop in the two loaves and bake them for slightly longer – 25 to 30 minutes depending on how big they are. Sometimes if I can be bothered I give them a few cuts on top. And if I am really keen I place a bowl of hot water in the oven to generate some steam.

That’s it. Pretty simple really. And I have not noticed any loss in taste or texture of the bread. If anything I think it might even be a bit better. And since it has those few hours in the fridge overnight, the dough is not as wet to handle in terms of shaping. It holds its shape better and seems to rise more.

Sam my budding little gourmand tells me he loves this bread the best and insists that I make it again….but can’t really tell me why it is so much better than previous versions. Perhaps it has something to do with the nutella in the warm bread roll? 🙂

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2010 8:11 AM

    Isn’t it amazing how second nature the breadmaking process becomes? For me, it now seems to take but minutes, and as you say, it’s almost like the less you fuss with it, the better the outcome. As it gets colder, I now barely knead mine last thing before bed, leave it on the bench overnight, then shape, rise and bake when I get up in the morning. I love your “eggs” – they remind me of some sweet rolls I made a while back which looked like baked potatoes!

    Are you still feeding your starter on a 1 cup flour to 1 cup water ratio? And where did you get the recipe that needed 405g starter – is that from the Bourke St Bakery book? Must go have a look…

  2. March 3, 2010 8:12 AM

    PS. On the point about measurements – the “real” bakers out there will shoot me for this, but I don’t think it’s as critical as everyone says. After all, it makes very little difference to me, in a domestic setting, whether my bread is 70% hydration or 72% hydration…

  3. March 3, 2010 5:05 PM

    did I read Nutella? Sam is a wise young man. You lay your own eggs, figuratively. And literally bake your own bread? Time to book a ticket to Sydney

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