Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sour Dough Bread Rolls

Bread baking is something that strikes terror in so many people. I know this is true, because I used to be one of "them". Many years ago, I can remember trying to bake a loaf of bread, that turned out to be flat and hard as a brick.  Working with yeast scared me, and I gave up.  Once in a while, I'd buy frozen bread dough. Even that produced dismal results. So,  I resigned myself to being a total bread baking dud.

 Then...the magical "Bread Machine" came into our lives, in 1986, from Japan. Yes, the self-proclaimed "Gadget Queen" (that would be 'moi') bought one of the first ones (and it was expensive, as I recall). I marveled that I could simply dump flour, yeast, powdered milk and water, press a button and walk away. A short time later, I'd have this funny looking square loaf of bread.  I felt like I had conquered my fear of bread baking. Then, the machine died. I bought another one, which lasted just over a year. Then, it died.  I decided it was time to quit buying bread machines.

That's when it dawned on me, that I had a perfectly good Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer!  I quickly fell in-love with being able to let that machine mix my dough-- and then, I began to enjoy the feeling of working with bread dough... by that, I began to love the feel of bread dough, and shaping the dough into bread rolls, or loaves of bread. I got better at it, and more confident. Who needs a bread machine?

The internet is loaded with plenty of information on how to work with yeast.  One of my favorite resources is King Arthur Flour.  My pantry is full of their products, because they work.  Their recipes work, too and love their clear step-by-step recipes with plenty of photos.  Plus, they have a toll-free Baker's Hot Line, that I have used plenty of times.

I finally took a leap of faith, and ordered their sour dough starter.  I was scared that I'd kill my starter-- and I really didn't understand what to actually do with it.   At first, my sour dough starter was kept in a glass mason jar, loosely covered with plastic wrap and a rubber band.  Eventually, I bought this special crock pot-- and I will say that I love it.  I can easily spot "the beast" in the back of my fridge.

I "fed" this sour dough starter for two years, before I actually used it!  In hindsight, I don't know what I was  so afraid of. I made these Classic Baguettes, that turned out really well.  I can say that I've conquered another fear.  I can assure you, that my sour dough starter has been sadly neglected for weeks, and still, I managed to revive it and keep it going.  (You can learn all about Sourdough starters by clicking here and here.)

The Classic Baguettes that I made were so good (as my family will attest to).  Still, I love a sour dough bread that has a bit more tang to them.    I used King Arthur Flour's recipe for Extra-Tangy Sourdough bread, which requires one cup of "fed" starter...

...I added a little Vital Wheat Gluten (not required, but I like what it does to the texture of my breads).

..and here's the ingredient that adds that "tang" that I love in my sour dough bread-- "Sour Salt/Citric Acid".  I added 1/2 teaspoon (you can't go hog wild with this, or it can cause deterioration of the crust). I have no idea exactly what that means...but I decided not to go there.

Unlike my One Hour Dinner Roll recipe, you need to allow anywhere from 2-5 hours for the dough to rise.  I decided to shape these into sandwich rolls, to make a Slow Roasted Beef sandwich. Once again, it takes anywhere from 2-5 hours for them to proof, before baking. (My total time was 2 hours each time).
25 minutes later, I had my first homemade extra-tangy sour dough bread.

I was really pleased with the texture of the bread.

TASTING NOTES:  Did I get that "tang" that, to me, is the hallmark of sour doughbread? Yes! The bread was crusty on the outside, and tender on the inside.  My son loved this bread, because he shares my passion for sourdough.   Yes, I can buy a loaf of sourdough bread for a few dollars-- but, unless you live in San Francisco, I think it's hard to find fresh and tangy sourdough bread.  For me, this was one more victory, as I continue my quest to learn how to bake more types of bread.   I feel a sense of gratitude by saying "I baked my own bread."  Of course, I don't bake all the bread that we eat-- my work schedule just doesn't allow for it. But, when I do, it's something that my family is truly grateful for.

BREAD BAKING TIPS: There are a few baking tools that I have acquired, over the years, that does help my bread baking to improve.  For one, I love my baking stone that received a top rating from Cook's Illustrated. It wasn't cheap, but I no longer have soggy pizza crusts, and it helps my Artisan breads to have that crunchy crust that I prefer.  You don't have to own a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, but it's the kitchen tool I'd be most likely to grab, if I had to evacuate my home.  You can mix dough by hand, of course, and you might get a nice set of "guns" to your arms while doing so. A Danish Dough Whisk can help to mix dough, by hand. Last, but not least, I use only unbleached flour, and my preferred brand is-- of course-- King Arthur Flour.   I am not sponsored by King Arthur Flour (I keep wishing).  I am recommending them, because I love their recipes, products and stellar customer service.

I've only just begun with bread baking.  On my bucket list is learning to bake rye bread.  I kinda/sorta want to make my own croissants, but folding in all that butter kinda scares me! 

Working with a sourdough starter isn't as difficult as I had feared.  I just tuck mine away, in the back of my fridge, and feed it every few weeks. So far, so good!

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Lynn said...

Debby, I love sourdough bread too! I had the same starter for 18 yrs!! It was when our children were all at home and I used it often as I made all the bread we ate. I also used it very often for biscuits. Once the kids were gone from home I wasn't using it often enough and one time I looked at it I thought it was beyond reiviving so out it went. It was a favourite of many visitors who ate with us. I hope you really enjoy the many things you can make with it :-)

Debby Foodiewife said...

LOL, Lynn! I guess I shouldn't feel embarrassed that it took me two years to finally use my starter. The Beast has become a member of the family, in a way.

Big Dude said...

The bread looks delicious Debbie. Bev just recently made her first batch using the King Arthur starter and while the texture wasn't just right, we loved the tangy flavor. Getting sourdough in SF is one of my favorite things when we get out that way. I'll send this one to her so she can benefit from your experience.

Joanne said...

I definitely want to dive into the world of sourdough someday...maybe it's time to order one of KAF's starters! Your rolls are beautiful!

Kirsten@My Kitchen in the Rockies said...

KAF is wondeful. They share fantastic recipes and instructions. I am also hesitant to start anything that includes yeast. That said, I was going to try the 5 minute Artisan bread and just watched a video on it. Your sour dough bread looks great!

Cathy at Wives with Knives said...

I had zero bread baking skills when I started blogging and VERY slowing with practice I'm producing decent loaves of bread. I don't think there is anything more satisfying. I haven't gotten into the whole starter thing yet but you have made me curious because I love the tangy taste of sourdough. Beautiful loaves, Debby.