First Sourdough Bread

basic sourdough bread, in a ½ steam table pan…

© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. Feb. 8, 2011.

I thought I’d just make a basic loaf of white bread with sourdough starter, and see how that works out. I also found a one-half-size steam-table pan (aka “Hotel Pan”), 12x10x4-inches, and thought I’d try mixing, kneading, proofing, and baking in that. I’d rather use a clay baker, but all that are large enough for bread are too high for my little oven, which has only five inches of vertical clearance above the rack.

Using the steam-table pan was an idea that didn’t work very well—the bread severely stuck to it, and the final shape looked more like skillet bread. But the bread turned out fine anyway.

There is more to making sourdough bread than just leavening it with a sourdough starter. Sourdough rises much more slowly, and it also takes time for the bacteria to work and “sour” the whole batch. In effect, you are just multiplying your starter, but this process takes so much time that the gluten will go slack and make a dough that will tend to be very tender and collapse easily. Handle the risen sourdough carefully, and pop it into a really hot oven (or better, preheated clay bakeware) to take advantage of maximum oven spring. But don’t despair—perfect sourdough just requires more experience than rapid-rise bread. Once you master sourdough, you’ll really know dough!

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