Vermont Sourdough – Redux & Step-by-Step

Since I decided to skip the next two breads in the challenge, these being the challah (yet another egg bread and one I’ve done before)  and the Ciabatta (again, previously done) I decided it was time to get me some tasty sourdough. Since I was on my own that week (Punkin being off visiting the ‘rents for their 50th) I decided to spoil myself. I also decided I’d follow the pattern I’ve been doing for the last few weeks and do the step-by-step thing.

This Vermont Sourdough is now somewhat of a “classic” recipe and is from Jeffrey Hamelman’s tremendous book Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes. This is another book that should be “mandatory” in a bread enthusiast’s library. Aside from recipes, as with the BBA, the book is chock full of great info that teaches you more than simply “how to make this or that bread” but gives you the technical knowledge to help you learn what’s going on with your breads.

Be sure to click the image to order it from Amazon if you don’t already have a copy.

So here we go, grab a coffee or whatever and follow along.

First, the now mandatory “Mise en Place”:

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As you can see, the ingredients list here is pretty simple: flour, salt, water and some form of leavening, in this case, a shot of Audrey-2.

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Artos: #BBA Challenge Bread No. 2

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Recipe number two in the The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge series is “Artos: Greek Celebration Breads“. In the preamble, Peter Reinhart tells how this is a holiday and festival bread that cover multiple variations.

The basic recipe is easily turned into “Christpsomos”, a Christmas loaf, by the simple additions of raisins, cranberries and walnuts or into “Lambropsomo”, an Easter loaf, by adding raisins, dried apricots and almond slivers a, braiding and nestling red-dyed hard boiled eggs. There are numerous local and not-so-local variations on this basic spiced bread.

I went with the christopsomos version since I did happen to have raising and cranberries, although I passed on the walnuts since we’re not big fans here.

So here we go, the step-by-step evolution of my first Artos bread…

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Updates and Sourdough Bagel Recipe tweak

I’ve made a couple of changes to the recipe for Sourdough Bagels, primarily I’ve added an ingredient list for making an even dozen as well as rephrasing a few of the comments to make some of the steps a little more clear. Hop over to the recipe here if you haven’t seen it yet.

They’re still awesome bagels. If anyone has given them a try or has questions, please don’t hesitate to comment (on that page).

Just so you know, I haven’t been ignoring the blog. I have been baking bread but because I’m really repeating a couple of the recipes I’ve found successful, I haven’t updated the blog in the last while. As well, several of the loaves I’ve made are tester recipes from Peter Reinhart’s upcoming book and of course, I can’t talk about or show pictures of them. The book is expected to come out later this year.  No, I’m not claiming special status, there are some 500 people putting the recipes through their paces to make them as clear and logical as possible, so I’m just one of VERY many. But that is one reason I have not been updating as often as I’d like.

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The Waste Conundrum

On bread discussion boards where people talk about their sourdough starters, invariably you will see posts written by people who are concerned about the amount of flour or old starter they end up tossing away, especially during the creating-the-starter phase. There seems to be much fretting and worrying that so much product is simply going to waste.

In this post, I’d like to address a few ideas concerning waste in the starter which, hopefully, will spark some discussion and help resolve some of the concern.

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Sourdough Bagels Recipe

Sourdough Bagels

Now that I’ve made Mike Avery’s Sourdough Bagels a few times over, (below is my slightly modified version of that recipe) I’m very happy with the results. These sourdough bagels are coming out nice and golden with a dense and slightly chewy crumb, a good crust and terrific flavour.

I’ve done one round of the Bagel recipe from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice as well and although they came out looking great and tasting very nice indeed, I found I was missing the interesting flavour tones that the sourdough gave when using the Mike Avery recipe. It was also good to give a try to a recipe that many people have used and to make a definite comparison.

The hands down winner is (are?) the Sourdough Bagels.

So here then is the (slightly modified) recipe for Mike Avery’s Sourdough Bagels. I’ve modified the amounts since his recipe, as he states on his web page, was designed for a class and therefore makes only four bagels… hardly enough to make a run at home when that would only last maybe a day, if you are lucky! So I bumped it up in increments to a more useful 12 bagel size. This would then be enough to bake on two normal sized home baking sheet (6 per sheet with a fair bit of elbow room) in a home oven and last you and a friend more than just a day or so. (We normally freeze six, they still taste just fine after thawing.) I also included the Baker’s percentages so those who use these can modify the recipe easily to make any size batch. This also tells us that the formula is 50% hydration so it is indeed a very stiff dough.

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