Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sourdough using All Natural Levain 天然酵母麵包

Warm summer days are good for eating ice cream, right? Besides making lychee ice cream, I also make good use of warm room temperature to cultivating levain (levain is a French word derived from Latin, meaning to rise). Making a levain culture from scratch takes a lot of time, care, and patience. If you plan to go away on vacation for a few days, do not begin the culture. It takes 5 days for the culture to mature before it is ready to be used. Even though it sounds a long time, but it takes only a few minutes each day to feed and maintain it.

But smelling the aroma of bread baking in the oven and biting into the crispy crust, all the cumbersome labor and work is forgotten. I'm not sure if this is the right analogy, but the process of culturing levain is like giving birth to a baby. Even though a woman has to carry the fetus in her womb for a very long time, most (if not all) mothers agree that when they hold their babies in their arms after delivery, all the pain of child birth vanishes.

You may ask,"What is the benefit of using natural yeast versus the commercial ones?" According to the author of the book Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast, store-bought yeast--either active dry yeast or instant yeast--is made from only one single strain of yeast. But when you make a levain culture, you let different natural yeasts in our environment--from the air, flour and your hands--to grow and leaven the dough. Together with other natural bacteria, they slowly grow in the culture and impart different flavors and complexity to the bread. This is what makes it set apart from bread that uses commercial yeast.

I have used different recipes to make sourdough in the past. This one from Ken Forkish's Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast is the best (winner of International Association of Culinary Professionals' cook book award 2011). I have modified the recipe a bit. Let me summarize his recipe as follows:

Before beginning, take the weight of the container you use and write it down. You will need it later.

Morning of Day 1: In the container mentioned above, mix 100g whole wheat flour with 100g warm water (90F) with your hand. Leave it uncovered on your kitchen counter for 2 hours. Then cover it overnight in a warm room, ideally between 75-90F.

Morning of Day 2: discard about 3/4 of the culture. "Feed" the culture with 100g whole wheat flour and 100g warm water. Like the day before, leave it uncovered on your kitchen counter for 2 hours, then cover overnight in a warm room.

Morning of Day 3: The volume should have doubled and you should see bubbles appearing in the culture. When you uncover it, it should have a slight alcoholic scent. Remove 3/4 of the culture and repeat the feeding instructions from day two.

Morning of Day 4: put the container on the scale. Discard some of the culture until the weight is the weight of the container + 40g. Then repeat the feeding instructions.

Morning of Day 5: discard all but 30g of the culture. Add 80g all-purpose flour, 20g whole wheat flour and 80g water. By evening, the levain culture will be ready for use, or it can be refrigerated for up to a month.

Caution: do not dump the culture in the sink. It will clog your drain. Put it in the trash.

After the levain culture is ready, it is time to make the sour dough, which will take another 2 days! I told patient!!

Make 2 round loaves:

Day 1:
1) 24 hours after the last feeding of the levain culture, at about 8 am, mix 40g levain culture with 40g whole wheat flour, 160g all-purpose flour and 160g warm water (85-90F). Leave it at room temperature for 6-8 hours.

2)  At around 2-3 pm: prepare the main dough in another container by mixing together 740g all-purpose flour, 60g whole wheat flour, and 510g warm water (90-95F). Let it rest for 20 minutes.
3) After 20 minutes, weigh out 360g levain culture from step 1 and add to the main dough in step 2. Add 20g salt and 1/2 tsp yeast to the dough and mix with hands or in a stand mixer until blended. A few minutes of mixing is all it needs. Let it rise until it is 2 1/2 times its size, about 3-4 hours at warm room temperature.

4)  Take the dough out carefully, trying to preserve the air inside the dough. Divide into two. Shape them by folding into a round ball. Prepare two round-bottomed tubs with a linen cover. Sprinkle the linen generously with flour, so the dough doesn't stick. Put the dough in, seam side down.

5)  Wrap the tubs up each in a plastic bag and put in the refrigerator overnight.

Day 2:
Put a 4-4.5 quart Dutch oven on the lower third rack of the oven with the lid on. Preheat the oven to 475F for about 30 minutes. Take one of the tubs containing the dough from the refrigerator. Invert the dough carefully onto a floured counter so that the seam side is up. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven. Carefully put the dough inside the hot Dutch oven, seam side up.

Put on the lid and replace it in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for 10 more minutes. Take it out and cool on a rack. Repeat with the other dough.

1)  Baking bread in a Dutch oven gives you a crispy crust because it traps the steam from the dough. Be very careful when putting the dough into the hot Dutch oven. If a Dutch oven is not available, the bread can be baked on a baking sheet or pan. Spray water into the oven to create steam, but the crust may not be as crispy.
2)  Bake the dough with the seam side up so that it cracks naturally, without scoring with a razor.
3)  The dough can be baked directly from the refrigerator without warming to room temperature.




第一天早上: 將100g全麥麵粉與100g微暖的水用手攪勻,放室溫不加蓋約兩小時,之後上蓋或用保鮮紙包好。

第二天早上: 將約四分三之麵種丟棄,加入100g全麥麵粉與100g微暖的水,用手攪勻,放室溫不加蓋約兩小時,之後上蓋或用保鮮紙包好。

第三天早上: 麵種會有很多氣泡,用鼻聞一下,應該會有些少酒味。將約四分三之麵種丟棄,加入100g全麥麵粉與100g微暖的水,用手攪勻,放室溫不加蓋約兩小時,之後上蓋或用保鮮紙包好。

第四天早上:  將麵種連容器放磅上,丟棄部份麵種,直至重量是容器重量加40g。加入100g全麥麵粉與100g微暖的水,用手攪勻,放室溫不加蓋約兩小時,之後上蓋或用保鮮紙包好。

第五天早上: 丟棄部份麵種,只留30g, 加80g普通麵粉,20g全麥麵粉,80g水, 用手攪勻,放室溫不加蓋約兩小時,之後上蓋或用保鮮紙包好。到晚上麵種便大功告成了,可以用來做麵包。



第一天早上八時左右: 將40g麵種與40g全麥麵粉,160g普通麵粉及160g溫水拌勻,讓它在室溫發酵六至八小時。

下午二或三點鐘,準備主麵團: 740g普通麵粉,加60g全麥麵粉及510g溫水用手拌勻,休息廿分鐘。然後將360g在早上已準備的麵種加入,拌勻,加20g鹽及半茶匙酵母,用手搓勻,約幾分鐘便可,不用搓至起筋。讓它在室溫發酵至兩倍半大,夏天約須三、四小時。

第二天: 將一個約4 quart大,可入焗爐,有蓋的鍋放焗爐內,預熱焗爐至475度,至少三十分鐘。將麵團從雪櫃取出,反轉在桌上,小心地放入已預熱的鍋內,接口向上,上蓋,放回焗爐,焗三十分鐘後,將蓋取出,再焗約十至十五分鐘,至麵包金黃色便成。用同樣方法繼續焗第二個。


1)  切記要將丟棄的麵種放垃圾桶,不可沖入洗手槽。
2)  剩下的麵種可以蓋好放雪櫃約一個月。
3)  用有蓋的鍋子焗麵包的好處是可以將麵團發出的蒸氣保留,以至造出脆脆的皮。如沒有可以入爐的鍋,放普通的焗盤也可,麵團入爐後噴水也可有相似的效果。

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