Thursday, July 29, 2010
Some thoughts on different bread styles
I am loving my sourdough baking, but the bread really is very different to the Kneadlessly Simple ones I was previously baking almost every week. The sourdough breads are much leaner; unless it's a fruit bread there is no added sugar/honey/molasses and although some oil gets worked into the dough from my oiled bench and hands (to stop it sticking) there is usually no added fat either.
The sourdough breads consequently don't keep anywhere near as well. In the Kneadlessly Simple book the author Nancy Baggett generally recommends only keeping the bread at room temperature for a couple of days, but I find that the breads keep perfectly well in our bread bin for nearly a whole week (we do mostly toast them though). Of course they don't always last that long! But I find that the sourdough breads are only good for a couple of days and then you really are better off to freeze the remainder.
Now that my sourdough starter is vital and healthy I am keeping it in the fridge, taking out what I need and refreshing it as I go, rather than tending to it everyday. I also use the 'dough retardation' method as often as possible, whereby you rest the dough in the fridge overnight before baking it after a slower second rise. That said it is still a bit more complicated to make the sourdough breads compared with the no-knead ones. With the latter you seriously only need a couple of periods of about 10 minutes each for mixing and the rest of the time the dough is just sitting around either in the fridge or on your kitchen bench doing its thing without any help from you. Consequently it's easier to fit breadmaking into your life. With the sourdough you really do need an hour or two at home to get the bread ready for its first rise. Things get a bit easier after that.
The other thing about making the sourdough though, is it is FUN! You get to air-knead the bread by grabbing it and throwing it in the air! Then whacking it on the bench! It's great and even more cathartic than regular kneading. So if you feel that you have stuff to get out of your system... this is a most productive way to do it. You let off steam, and then you have nice bread. This is called a win-win situation.
Do you have a method of breadmaking you prefer? My friend Anne was also posting about these sorts of issues on her blog Pins and Thimbles... check it out!