Sunday, April 1, 2012

Marbled Sourdough

When I first started making sourdough bread a year ago, I tried to make a loaf each week. Each week's loaf was a little better than the last. I did this for a while then during the summer I lost interest in turning the oven on and adjusting recipes for proofing in the extreme Florida heat. As you may have noticed, I have started making a few loaves again. I've had mixed success this go around. I haven't made a loaf that I'd never eat but I don't think I have made the perfect sourdough loaf -whatever that is.

Typically, I always make a pan loaf. I don't have a baking stone or a dutch oven so it seemed like the best option for me. The first non-pan loaf was the Sweet Potato Challah (which was delicious!) and that led to the round braided loaf. That round braid was perhaps my best loaf to date. It had great oven spring - the best I've ever had. It was soft - perfect for sandwiches (which is why I make bread) - and not very sour (my starter isn't very sour). When it was time to make my next loaf, I didn't know what to do. I don't like making the same recipe over and over. I know that that is best so that I can perfect something but I bake in order to try new things and I wanted something new. However, it was getting late and if you've made sourdough you know that timing is key. You don't want to start a loaf at midnight and then realise that you need to do a stretch and fold every two hours. Not that that has ever happened to me..ahem.

I finally decided that I'd do a pan loaf but I'd add something to it. I'd make a marbled loaf. For this loaf, I used the Teresa's Soft White Pan loaf recipe from her Discovering Sourdough e-book and the Chocolate Sheet recipe and instructions found here. First, let me say that I love this loaf! The crumb was perfect for me. The marbling effect was good but not overwhelming.

However, I hated making that chocolate sheet. I don't know what I was doing wrong but my chocolate mixture just would not thicken. I kept needing to add flour and cornstarch. I stopped measuring how much I added. It froze well and was easy to laminate in the dough. However, when I make another marbled loaf, I will do what I had intended to do in the first place - add cocoa powder to half of the dough and then layer each colour and roll them up. That's a  lot easier than stirring a chocolate mixture on the stove forever. I didn't do this initially because I didn't want to go through the hassle of splitting my sponge because I had started the sponge before I had made a final decision. Additionally, I was wondered that there would be too much of a time difference with my two halves. I am sure it would have been fine but I worried. I think if I do this I will put it in the refrigerator to slow down the bulk ferment that the extra time it takes for me to mix the second half won't make a difference. 

I am very proud of this loaf. It makes me feel like a baker. Actually, I probably felt more like a baker when I successfully did that round braid. But that's not important! I am so proud of this that I am submitting it to YeastSpotting!

(Sorry I don't have the best camera.)