• Michele Genest

Sourdough Boot Camp Days Eleven And Twelve

Updated: May 21

Sourdough Banana Bread, and baking your first loaves of sourdough bread



Basic Sourdough Bread, Day Twelve


Hi everyone! Before we get baking, I wanted to share a couple of inspiring stories about how we are feeding each other: in Whitehorse a chef's collective is working together, with the support of local suppliers, to produce beautiful, ready-made meals for the Whitehorse Food Bank. And in Toronto, the Scotiabank Arena has become a massive kitchen where a brigade of chefs and their helpers are preparing meals for front line workers.


As a home cook or baker juggling Zoom meetings with home-schooling, or caring for elderly relatives, or facing any number of different challenges, it's hard to offer help outside our own houses or apartments. But we can always feed people on a smaller scale; our friends and family, our neighbours.


Idea: surprise them with banana bread.


Banana bread is reportedly the comfort food we have all turned to in these times, with good reason. It's homey, delicious, substantial, will take any number of additions like walnuts or raisins or chocolate chips, keeps for days and it just makes us happy.


Thank you to all the bootcampers who suggested it.


If you've got a couple of cups of starter and a lot of bananas, double the recipe and share liberally with all the usual suspects.


Sourdough Banana Bread, Day Eleven

[Adapted from Best of Bridge]


Sourdough Banana Bread, a project for Day Eleven


Ingredients


½ cup (115 g) butter

1 cup white sugar (220 g)

3 mashed ripe bananas (about 1½ cups)

1 egg at room temperature, beaten

1 cup (250 g) sourdough starter (activated or discard)

1 tsp baking soda

1¼ cups (190 g) all purpose flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp nutmeg


Optional additions:

1 cup chopped walnuts (100 g)

1/2 cup raisins, craisins, chopped dates or apricots (60 g)

1 cup chocolate chips (100 g)

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Butter a 9 x 5 or 8 x 4-in loaf pan.

  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until thoroughly combined.

  3. Stir in bananas, sourdough starter and baking soda and mix thoroughly.

  4. In a separate bowl whisk together flour, salt and nutmeg.

  5. Add any extras like nuts, dried fruit or chocolate chips to the dry ingredients and toss together.

  6. Stir dry ingredients into the banana mixture until blended, but be careful not to over-mix.

  7. Pour into loaf pan and bake 55 minutes to 65 minutes until a tester inserted in the middle come out clean. (If the top is browning too quickly place a piece of parchment paper or tin foil over top.)

  8. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool to room temperature.


Makes one loaf.

Ooh la la. It's a winner, this one.

Sourdough Boot Camp Day Eleven and Twelve Two-Day Bread


(That is a mouthful!)


This is not the only bread you will ever make, but it's a basic loaf that is pretty fool-proof---that can be a rash claim---but it's been the go-to bread in our house for the past 11 years; it's the bread I learned on, and the one my husband learned on. It's a good one for bakers cutting their teeth because it only rises once, either as two free-form round loaves or two sandwich breads baked in a loaf pan.


Later, as you explore sourdough bread-making through the rich resources of books and internet sites available to us, you will learn more about hydration, about bulk ferments, about retarding the dough; you'll learn how to make rye breads, and whole wheat breads, you may learn how to build a gluten-free starter. You'll learn how to incorporate flours such as einkorn or emmer or the very Canadian Red Fife.


This is just the very beginning of the journey.


You don't know at this stage what kind of baker you'll become--someone who dives deeply into the precision of thermometers, scales, bread stones and proofing boxes or someone who makes decisions based on the look and feel of their dough, or both; someone who takes their starter out twice a week and bakes the household's bread on a regular basis; someone who leaves the starter dormant in the fridge for weeks at a time only to fall in love with baking again and binge-bake before sending the starter back to the fridge to sleep again.


Or perhaps you'll cycle through all those phases at different times---that's what I tend to do.


The more you bake, the better you will get to know your starter--how it looks and smells when it comes out of the fridge; when it's just starting to "wake up"; when it's raring to go.


It's no wonder people name their starters. It will become your pet, your pal, your genie.


As you bake more bread, too, you will get to know different doughs, how they feel when you're kneading them, how they look and feel after you add salt, how they look after two hours of proofing or after four.


Let's get those first loaves going.


Enjoy this day of prep for bread making.


Two-day Sourdough Bread, a Basic Recipe with Variations


This recipe makes two loaves, with a chewy crust and a fairly dense crumb. It's a great everyday eating bread.


Note: this is not the bread with large holes that we so often see on sourdough baking blogs. Those breads are made with a higher-hydration dough; that is, one where the proportion of water to flour and starter is higher. They are beautiful breads, and breads to aspire to.


But since they can be trickier to manipulate--the dough is wetter and stickier--my suggestion is to start with this basic sandwich bread, and then branch out as working with sourdough dough becomes more familiar.


(I highly recommend getting a couple of dough scrapers, they make the manipulation of a wetter dough so much easier.)


The crumb of the Basic Sourdough Bread will look more like this


Day 1 (Day Eleven)


Once fed, the starter develops in 8 to 12 hours or all day; the sponge sponge develops in 8 to12 hours or overnight; the rising time is about 4 hours on the second day.


Feed your starter:


100 g starter (just over 1/2 cup)

200 g all-purpose flour or bread flour (about 1 1/3 cup)

220 to 250 g warm water (about 1 cup to 1 cup and 2 Tbsp)


Stir flour and water into starter, cover loosely and leave in a warm spot for 8 to 12 hours.



Day 1, Evening, Making the Sponge


Return 100g of your now bubbly, active starter to the fridge, in its own container, labelled. This is your starter. It's not a discard, it's what you'll use from now to bake with. Every time you activate this starter to bake with, you will return a portion of about 100g to the fridge.


You can continue to use the starter that remains from bootcamp for baking projects that use other leaveners, but this 100g is different. It's your activated, up and running starter. Congratulations!


Weigh or measure your remaining starter; you will probably have about 500 g, or around 2 cups.


Transfer the starter to a large ceramic, glass or stainless steel bowl.


To 500 g starter (2 cups) add


300 g flour (2 cups)

350 to 400 g water (1½ to 2 cups)


This is your sponge, and will form the basis of your bread tomorrow.


Leave out all night in your warm spot, loosely covered.


Day Two, Making the Bread (Day Twelve)


Sourdough loaves made by first-time bakers during a women's retreat at Mount Logan Lodge last September, when we still did such things. (We will again.)


(Scroll down and have a look at the photos below to see the dough at different stages. This is just meant as a guide: your dough might not look exactly like mine. But it will probably be within the ball park.)


To the sponge, which will now be bubbly and smell nice and yeasty, stir in:


2 Tbsp maple syrup, birch syrup or honey

300 g (about 2 cups) flour, and have an additional 150 g (1 cup) flour in reserve *

100 g (1 cup) rolled oats

2 Tbsp coarse or kosher salt, or 1 Tbsp finer salt (*don't add salt now, but keep in reserve)


Optional additions: stir in after the rolled oats


1 cup pumpkin seeds

2 Tbsp fennel seeds


Or

¾ cup pitted, chopped kalamata olives

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked and chopped

1 Tbsp ( dried rosemary

1 tsp dried sage


(Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the basic dough, you can create your own variations.)


Kneading the dough


  1. Keep your hands and the work surface lightly floured at all times, and know that things will be sticky for a while. Use a dough scraper, if you have one, to help manipulate the dough. An egg flipper will do in a pinch.

  2. Stir the maple syrup, 300 grams or 2 cups flour, oatmeal and optional additions into the sponge.

  3. At this stage, add just enough of the *reserved 150 g (1 cup) of flour to keep the dough from sticking to the side of the bowl while you manipulate the dough onto the counter.

  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Keep the remainder of the reserved flour handy.


When you're flouring the counter, just pick up a pinch of flour from your reserved portion and fling it onto the counter--you literally want just a dusting of flour. Do the same motion for adding flour to the dough. Dust your hands with flour. Just use the minimum amount of flour needed to keep the dough from sticking and allow you to knead it.


  1. Work and knead: draw all the edges into the centre, fold the dough in half, press the seam closed with the heel of your hand, push the dough away from you, give it a quarter-turn and repeat, using a light pressure.

  2. Do this over and over for 5 minutes, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface. By the end the dough will be silky and elastic and perhaps still slightly sticky, but will pull away from the work surface easily.

  3. Let the dough rest on the lightly-floured surface, covered with a towel, for 20 minutes.

  4. Knead again for 5 minutes, sprinkling salt over the counter and the dough a bit at a time and kneading until all the salt is incorporated. You'll notice the dough becomes less sticky and seems to cohere more with the addition of salt.

  5. Divide the dough in two. Let one piece rest while you shape the other into a ball or boule.


Shaping the Dough


  1. Pull the edges into the centre and pinch them together; turn the dough over so the seam side is down.

  2. Rotate the dough on the work surface with your hands cupped around it, guiding into a rounded shape with gentle, steady pressure. Repeat with the second ball of dough.

  3. For round loaves, oil the boule and place it in a kitchen bowl lined with parchment paper that has been dusted with flour. (Or a banneton; see below) Once the dough has finished rising, place the loaf, still in its parchment paper directly onto a baking sheet.

  4. To shape the dough to fit a rectangular bread pan: Flatten the boule into a 9-inch (23-cm) circle.

  5. Fold the near edge into the centre and tuck in the ends.

  6. Turn the dough so the far edge is now the near edge, fold it into the centre, tuck in the ends and pinch the seams closed.

  7. Place seam-side up in an oiled pan, and then flip over so the smooth side is uppermost and covered in oil.


Raising The Dough


  1. Let the dough rise in a warm place covered with a towel for 4 hours or until nearly doubled in size. Dough is ready when, if you poke it with a finger, it springs back but slowly and not all the way; you will still see the indent your finger made.

  2. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450F (230C).

  3. Place a pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf in the oven. Slash each loaf twice with a sharp knife held at a 45 degree angle. (We keep an exacto-knife in the kitchen for this purpose.)

  4. Put loaves into the oven immediately and bake for 10 minutes.

  5. Remove the water and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is browned and the base sounds hollow when tapped. (If you've used a loaf pan, give the bread 2 to 3 minutes in the oven without the pan.

  6. Turn the bread out onto a rack and let cool before slicing—it will be hard to resist having a piece right away but better for the bread in the long run.


This is how my sponge looked at 9 am the morning of Day Twelve

Basic Sourdough Bread dough, before addition of the third cup (150g) flour


Basic Sourdough Bread dough, most of reserved flour incorporated during kneading. This is the dough after 20 minutes of resting.

Adding the salt after 20 minutes resting period. Sprinkle salt on top of the dough in small increments, or on the counter in small increments, and knead it in.

This is the dough divided in two. The sticky interior is evident. Gather all the edges of the dough together, containing that sticky bit inside.

All the edges gathered together, the seams pinched. At this stage, shape the dough into a ball by cupping it with your hands and pretending it's a driving wheel you're turning,

Dough oiled and ready to rise. The bowl on the left is a banneton coated liberally with flour. You can order one from a kitchen store near you. But the parchment paper in a bowl works well too.




Once your bread has cooled, slice into it. Notice the crust. Notice the crumb. Spread it with butter. Tear it in pieces and dip it in olive oil Toast it for breakfast. Melt some cheese on top.

And congratulate yourself.

You've made sourdough starter from scratch and used it to bake your first loaves of sourdough bread.


Basic Sourdough Bread, Day Twelve










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©2020 Michele Genest. Photos by Archbould Photography and Michele Genest

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