Thursday, January 7, 2010

My Bread Year: 1-2-3 Sourdough Bread

This year I have decided to blog every bread I make, even if I have to double up on the breads per post, post breads multiple times or even just post only pictures as proof. Why you ask? Why not, I say. Though I really don't have time for the endeavor, I want to prove to myself that the failures (and there are always failures) are as instructive as the successes.

We begin with the first success: This bread is called 1-2-3 Sourdough Bread after this post from The Fresh Loaf, one of my favorite bread resources. Way back, a hundred years ago, in April, I was trying to get the hang of my Electrolux Assistent N26 (aka DLX) stand mixer and stumbled across the formula for the bread. Of course, this actually predates my purchasing the Bread Baker's Apprentice, and predates my knowledge of Baker's Percentages. I did have a scale from beer brewing, so off I went.

People always mention a learning curve when using the Electrolux Mixer. In my case, I never had a Kitchen-Aid, so my learning curve was on how to use a mixer in the first place. Back then, my first doughs baked into very flat bricks that never rose. Even the yeasted ones. I was actually thinking maybe I had made a mistake in buying the machine.

But from what I had read, people initially hated the machine. I was determined that the machine would work for me.

I quickly realized that I the advice I had read- let the machine run by itself for 12 minutes- was valid, but for larger batches of whole wheat bread. Plus no one had mentioned the speed of the mixer, and I also realized that the machine had likely overmixed the bread, thereby ruining the structure of the gluten.

My breakthrough came when I did two simple things: 1) I watched the dough being mixed from start until it was ready. Don't ask me how long this takes, but from my previous experience I know what dough looks like when it is ready, so watching the process helped me a ton. Reaching in and feeling the dough also helped determine when it was ready. All those years of hand kneading have really paid off! 2) I resisted the urge to add more flour. Also known as Add 90 percent of the flour and reserve the remaining 10 percent in order to curb this urge. The thing is that the dough looks like it will never come together. Eventually, like me now, you will just dump the measured flour and walk away.

The funny thing is, every time I pull a loaf of bread from the oven, I don't jump up for joy. I don't really get excited about things when they happen. But when I reach into the bread box at work and pull out a half loaf of my own bread, I smell it and can't believe I made the bread. It's like a twin version of me made the bread and gave it to me. I cut a slice, toast it, and just think about how good the bread tastes.

1-2-3 Sourdough Bread from this post on The Fresh Loaf
230g Sourdough Starter @100%- I keep mine fed with Type 1050 flour
460g Water
690g Type 1050 flour
14g Sel de Guérande

33% Sourdough Starter
66% Water
100% Type 1050 Flour
2% Sea salt

Baked in tiny oven with baking stone and oven steam. Results in a 71% Hydration loaf.


  1. Every time I make a loaf, I cut it and take a deep whiff. A friend of mine gave me a funny look when she saw me smelling my bread. She knew I had made the bread and thought I was checking it to make sure it was okay before feeding it to the group. It's nice to know someone appreciates quality bread!

  2. This bread looks cute with those slashes, and the crumb is great!

  3. I can't wait to hear about how this recipe compares with Reinharts.

  4. What a great idea, keeping track of every bread. I look forward to it. Your sourdough looks great! I'm with Rosemary & Garlic - the comparison with PR's will be interesting!

  5. Hey! just a little tip from baker to baker, id go check out sourdoughs international for some bada** sourdough starter. i got the san francisco and OMG way good, came out great.
    Happy baking!