Friday, July 25, 2008

Olof Viktor's Sourdough Bread

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I really love bread. There is nothing as satisfying as kneading a dough, feeling it change character and consistency, shaping it, watching it rise, and finally placing in the oven to bake. And when it's ready, and you take it out of the oven and smell it, your mouth waters. Once you've taken your first bite, you sigh, and enter heaven.

Home-made bread always tastes great, but some taste better than others. That trusted old recipe you've used so many times you never bother measuring anything anymore because you know it by heart, is always tasty, but sometimes you just want more. And more is what you'll get if you buy the book Bröd (means "Bread", and is available in English), written by Swedish pastry chef Jan Hedh. The recipes are quite time-consuming, and probably what you would use in a professional bakery, but you will get great bread every time.

I highly recommend buying a bread/pizza stone, since the bread will be so much better when baked on one -- you won't get closer to wood-fired oven baked bread than this (if you don't have a wood-fired oven, of course). I made the mistake of leaving my bread stone back in Sweden, and I've missed it every single day.

The first recipe I tried from Bröd is a white sourdough bread. It takes at least two days to make, but it really, really, really is worth it.

Oh, the crust!

Oh, the texture!

Oh, the taste!

It is quite amazing how a simple wheat bread with a wheat sourdough can come out tasting so much, but this bread really is chock full of flavour. Simple, yet complex, and oh, so delicious! I'm also quite proud that I managed to make it look so good, but that's beside the point.

Olof Viktor's Sourdough Bread, from Bröd by Jan Hedh, page 43

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The instructions assume you have a kitchen appliance with kneading hooks, but you can knead it with your hands (I did). This will take a bit longer, and your arms will get really tired, but see it as a form of exercise.

Day 1

Prefermented dough

2 grams fresh yeast
150 grams water
200 grams high-gluten wheat flour
2 grams salt

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water, and add to the flour you've put in a large bowl. Knead on low speed for 10 minutes.
2. Add salt, increase speed and knead for another 5 minutes.
3. Place dough in a lightly oiled container and put it in the fridge for 24 hours, or leave it out for 3 hours.

Day 1 or 2

Final dough

15 grams fresh yeast
500 grams water
1000 grams high-gluten wheat flour
350 grams wheat sourdough
20 grams sea salt

1. Dissolve the yeast in the water and pour over the flour, preferment and sourdough, and knead for 13 minutes. Add the salt, increase the speed and knead for another 7 minutes.
2. Place dough in a lightly oiled container and let rest for 60-90 minutes.
3. Sift a thick layer of flour onto a baking tray. Gently divide the dough into four parts, without pressing the air out of them, and place on the tray.
4. Gently fold the dough -- and again, be careful not to press out the air -- and place with the "seam" down, facing the tray.
5. Place the baking tray in the fridge, and let rise over night, or for about 14-16 hours.
6. Pre-heat the oven to 250 C / 480 F, with either baking stone or a baking tray inside.
7. Bake the bread, two at a time, with the seam facing upwards. Spray them generously with water, or place some ice cubes/a cup of water on a tray in the bottom of the oven.
8. Lower the heat to 200 C / 390 F after 5 minutes. After another 10 minutes, let the steam out by opening the oven door. Repeat twice.
9. Bake for a total of 40-50 minutes, then place the bread on a cooling rack.
10. Spray the bread with some more water, for a crackly crust.

Repeat with the remaining bread.

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Check out YeastSpotting over at Wild Yeast, for all of your bread needs.

3 comments:

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

Isn't it amazing how much flavor can be coaxed from such simple ingredients? These loaves do look incredible!

angelica said...

Susan: Yes, I'm always a little amazed at how good something so simple can taste. Bread is so much fun!

Madam Chow said...

The crust on the bread looks amazing. I, too, love baking bread!