Sunday, January 4, 2015

COUNTRY LEMON-ROSEMARY SOURDOUGH BREAD

You can make your own sourdough starter anytime of the year, but if you make it in the summer, the fresh air will give your sourdough the flavor of your part of the world. San Francisco sourdough is so unique because of the marine air. 
Make your starter about 5 days before you make the bread. When you take out a cup of sourdough, replace it with equal parts of water and flour and let sit on your counter, covered with cheesecloth, for a couple of days before refrigerating. I have been feeding and using the same starter for years. If you want a more traditional San Francisco style bread, do not use milk in your starter. You can also buy an established starter online, but it is very rewarding to make your own. 


Sourdough Starter
1 small bunch washed red grapes (about 12-15)
4 peels of an organic apple
Double layer of cheese cloth
Kitchen string
2 cups unbleached bread flour
1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup lukewarm milk

Place the bunch of grapes and apple peels in the cheesecloth and tie up with string.
Lightly smash with a mallet or large spoon to release their juices.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, water, and milk and place in a large glass jar. 
Add the grapes and apple peels and cover with a a layer of cheesecloth, to keep out 
any debris.
Set aside, near an open window for two to five days. 
Remove the cheesecloth bundle and lightly squeeze the grapes and apple peels, to release their juices.

Bread
1 ½ cups lukewarm water, divided                                  
1 T dry yeast 
1 T honey
1 cup sourdough starter, room temperature 
2 T extra-light olive oil
2 T melted unsalted butter                      
4 cups unbleached bread flour
1 T sea salt
3 T chopped fresh rosemary
Grated zest of one large lemon
Warm water to brush on loaves before baking

Pour ½ cup of the water into the bowl of an electric mixer, add yeast and honey.
Swirl to combine and let proof for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, mxture should be bubbly and the volume should slightly increase. If this doesn't happen, your yeast may be old. 
Attach the bowl to the mixer and add a dough hook.
Add the sourdough starter, oil and butter.
Gradually add the flour, alternating with the rest of the water and salt. 
Finally, mix in the rosemary and lemon.
Mix at medium speed for about 5 minutes.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about a minute or so.
Form dough into a smooth ball and place into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm spot for 2 hours.

Punch dough down and form into a round ball or oblong shape.
Place dough onto a pizza stone that has been sprinkled with cornmeal or on a baking sheet and let rise another 45 minutes.

Place a small oven-proof pan of boiling water in oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Just before baking make diagonal slashes on the top of the loaf with a wet serrated knife and brush with warm water.

Bake for 20 minutes; reduce heat to 325 degrees F and bake an additional 15 minutes, until golden. 

Transfer bread with a large spatula to a rack to cool.