You guys. I made bread. Sourdough bread. From scratch! I can't believe it popped out of the oven and actually looked like bread. I think I teared up a little. It was BEAUTIFUL. Seriously beautiful.
And it actually tasted good! Pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. Tangy and a bit chewy, with a deliciously crispy, deeply browned crust. This was a very proud moment for me.
I followed one of the pure levain recipes from Flour Water Salt Yeast by Ken Forkish. The Country Brown, to be specific. It's got a mixture of white and whole wheat flours, and the yeast in the dough comes purely from a levain culture (i.e., no store-bought yeast needed). I talked about levain a while back, but essentially what it is is a mixture of flour and water that has wild yeasts living in it. Every time you bake bread with the levain, you use a little bit of it and keep the rest going for the next time you bake bread. I've been keeping my culture alive and well for a few months now, feeding it every so often with more flour and water to keep the yeasts happy and healthy. Some levain cultures ("mother doughs") in San Francisco can be traced all the way back to the California Gold Rush!
Now, I am not even going to attempt to give a recipe for the sourdough bread. For one thing, I am a complete bread novice and have absolutely no place teaching anyone how to make bread. But I just wanted to share a little bit of my first-time-bread-baking-experience with all of you. It takes time and planning, but it is SO worth it. I look forward to doing it all over again, hopefully with a better idea of what I'm doing (e.g., how do I FOLD a dough that's as wet as water?? how do I know when the gluten has enough STRUCTURE? and how in the HECK am I supposed to transfer this beautiful round of dough to the Dutch oven without ripping all that precious gluten framework into shreds???) Lessons were learned, for sure.
But I also happened to make another type of bread over the weekend. A much, much simpler bread made with bananas, lemon zest, olive oil, dark muscovado sugar, and a mixture of white and whole wheat flours. This recipe is definitely a keeper - it comes from Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks, and it's delicious. A great start to my Sunday morning. Hope everyone has a great week!
- 1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125g all-purpose flour
- 1 cup / 5 oz / 140g whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup / 4 oz / 115 g coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups / 12 oz / 340 g mashed, VERY ripe bananas (~3 bananas)
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml plain, whole milk yogurt
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the glaze:
- 1/2 cup / 3 oz / 85 g sifted dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g confectioners' sugar
- 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350° F, and place a rack in the center. Grease a 9- by 5- inch (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan, or equivalent.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate pieces and combine well.
In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, mashed banana, yogurt, zest, and vanilla. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes. You want to get that beautiful color on the cake, but at the same time you don't want to bake all the moisture out of it. So the minute you're in that zone, pull it. Erring on the side of under-baking versus over.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out of the pan to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. In a bowl, whisk together the sugars and the lemon juice until smooth. When the cake is completely cool, drizzle the glaze on top of the cake, spreading with a spatula to cover.