Tuesday, April 21, 2020

3 Day Sourdough Bread

Three day sourdough bread takes ages but is really very light work, and yields deliciously tangy loaves perfect for sandwiches or toast with jam!

There is no doubt about it - April has been one bizarre month. We have gone from eagerly awaiting special meals out and vacations and planning for Summer break (not to mention my upcoming  university courses and Masters program) to being caught in limbo - things across the board have been put on hold or cancelled outright, I'm becoming better and better at navigating Zoom for teaching and now that I've finished my degree (the Summer courses were a prerequisite for my graduate studies) I'm kind of... lost. Don't get me wrong, the break is needed - the overwhelming stress of this last month was pushing me into burnout territory - but I now need to "re-learn" how to relax and not be working under pressure.

Two things that have really helped me with the stress of these ever-changing times have been virtual teaching and baking. I truly didn't realize how revitalized being around the students made me, so getting the chance to interact with them - even for an hour a week - is fantastic. Not to mention that a lot of them need that structure too. One of these days, I will get around to doing a few cooking videos for them (as "Home Ec" lessons), as soon as I can figure out how to edit.

The other major thing that has always helped with my stress levels is baking. Specifically, baking bread. There is something truly cathartic about something becoming alive in the kitchen, whether it is a quick-shot, two hour loaf or something that takes a little longer, like these loaves of whole-grain sourdough. Did I say a little longer? Sorry, I meant a lot longer. See, this sourdough recipe takes three days to complete. Why? Well, the longer you let sourdough ferment, the more complex and sour the flavour is, the more hydrated the flour is and the better the gluten structure. Not all sourdoughs take three days, but since this one uses cold retardation, the yeast is slowed down. Coupled with my 13 year old starter, by the time these loaves were cool enough to slice (more agonizing than the three days of waiting) they were perfect, almost akin to the sourdough I used to buy at the market in Ottawa.

Whether you just tear into a slice unadorned (I have been guilty of that), slather it with peanut butter or toast it and spread it with butter (cultured if you love tang like I do), you can't go wrong with these loaves. No starter? Check out the guide I found here to get going!

3 Day Sourdough Bread
Makes 2 loaves
2/3 cup sourdough starter, recently fed
2 cups warm water
2 cups whole wheat bread flour 

Final Dough
1 tbsp raw sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups whole wheat bread flour

Flour, for dusting

Day 1
  1. In a (preferably non-metal) bowl, combine the pre-ferment ingredients, stirring well. Cover and let rest 3 hours, the mixture will be bubbly.
  2. Stir in the sugar, salt and remaining flour until a relatively smooth dough forms. Knead in the bowl for 4-5 minutes, until slightly elastic.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. The longer the fermentation, the more sour the dough will be.
Day 2
  1. Remove the dough from the fridge and deflate it gently. Re-cover and let rest at room temperature for 2 hours, until no longer fridge-cold.
  2. Divide dough in half and shape each into a loaf. Place in greased loaf pans.
  3. Cover with greased plastic wrap and place back in the fridge overnight, between 8-12 hours.
Day 3
  1. Remove loaf pans from the fridge and let dough rest and finish rising in a warm area, between 4-6 hours.
  2. Heat the oven to 400F. Dust the tops of the loaves with flour and slash down the middle with a sharp knife.
  3. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the loaves are caramel-coloured and sound hollow when rapped on the bottom, or measure 195F on a thermometer.
  4. Turn out of the pans immediately and cool on a wire rack.

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