Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fear Factor - Phobia I: Breads from a Sponge

Recently, Deb of Smitten Kitchen asked about what we're afraid to cook, resulting in a massive comments column. I have some cooking fears of my own that I need to conquer. They're irrational and I know I am perfectly capable of doing these things. Let's start with sponge. There's something scary about yeast, even when you're used to working with it. Maybe it's also the need to keep the sponge going by feeding it. Maybe it's just that it's ALIVE! In any case, this was so easy that I don't know what my problem was.

L says this is my best bread yet. Family loved it - both loaves were gone in an hour... Must make more (hence short post)...

Mediterranean Sundried Tomato and Olive Bread

1 cup slightly warm filtered water
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/4 cup unbleached bread flour
2 Tbsp spelt flour (or whole wheat)
2 Tbsp rye flour

Whisk yeast and water together and let sit for 3 minutes, until it gets slightly foamy. Stir in flours. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit overnight - up to 24 hours.

1 cup slightly warm filtered water
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
3 cups bread flour (up to 4 cups if needed)
3 Tbsp rosemary garlic seasoning
3 Tbsp italian seasoning
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped kalamata olives
1/8 cup finely chopped smoked sundried tomatoes

Deflate sponge and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir water and yeast into sponge, let sit 2 minutes for yeast activation. Add remainder of ingredients, including 3 cups bread flour, and use the dough hook with the mixer on low speed to combine. Add enough of the remaining cup of flour to form a soft (not sticky) dough. Kneed on medium speed for 2 minutes. Form dough into a ball and let rise in an oiled bowl, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Flour a cookie sheet or pizza peel and form dough into desired loaf shape. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise another 2-4 hours. Half an hour before baking, insert a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 450.

Slide dough onto pizza stone and mist the top of loaves with water. Mist the sides of the oven that do not contain a light or heating element. Bake for 20 minutes, misting every 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 and bake until well browned and crusty. Let cool 20 minutes before slicing.


Liza said...

Your bread looks wonderful! I have made yeast bread before, but never bread from a sponge. Your post makes me want to give it a try.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That is beautiful bread!

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