Tag Archives: sourdough recipe

An Experiment: Sourdough Pumpernickel Bread

It’s the weekend, so I must be cooking, right? Those who enjoy my blogs on bread making might find my latest experiment of some interest: sourdough pumpernickel.

I'm not sure I would recommend my sourdough pumpernickel bread. It's a bit strong for my taste! (Photo by Jim Ewing, ShooFlyFarmBlog)

I’m not sure I would recommend my sourdough pumpernickel bread. It’s a bit strong for my taste! (Photo by Jim Ewing, ShooFlyFarmBlog)

I debated whether I should write this because frankly, I would say, sourdough pumpernickel may be an acquired taste. Think about it: pumpernickel bread already has a strong flavor; add the “tang” or sour flavor implicit in sourdough bread and what do you have? I can tell you: a very strong flavor! I haven’t decided if I like it or not.

If pressed, the closest flavor I can think of that approximates it is licorice.

I blame my friend Lisa for this! (Joking. Sort of. I’ll take her some and see what she thinks.)

Lisa asked if I was thinking about doing pumpernickel and, if so, to let her know so that we could compare notes. She said she wasn’t satisfied with how her’s came out.  I told her that these days I just do sourdough (except for white bread for my grandson).

After we discussed it a bit, I got curious. I wasn’t even sure if it was possible to make sourdough pumpernickel, since the ingredient that gives it the unique flavor is molasses, and sourdough is all about converting sugars. So, I thought, well, I guess I could try it.

I don’t have a recipe, per se. I just put the ingredients together how I thought they should go. I looked at a pumpernickel bread recipe but substituted sourdough starter and played it by ear from there.

Take some sourdough starter (after feeding it rye flour for a couple of days to acclimate it) and mix it with water, olive oil, caraway seeds, salt, molasses and rye flour. (Photo by Jim Ewing, ShooFlyFarmBlog)

Take some sourdough starter (after feeding it rye flour for a couple of days to acclimate it) and mix it with water, olive oil, caraway seeds, salt, molasses and rye flour. (Photo by Jim Ewing, ShooFlyFarmBlog)

I took my sourdough starter and poured out about a quarter cup into a separate jar three days before I started cooking. I fed the starter (which had been bred with organic all purpose flour) with organic rye flour: one quarter cup with an equal amount of filtered water twice a day. On the third day, I had bubbly starter from the rye flour. (If changing to a different type of flour for sourdough cooking, you need to allow time for your starter to get accustomed to it.)

Amounts are approximate: I mixed one and half cups of the starter and one cup of rye flour with one-half cup of molasses, half a cup of warm water, two tablespoons of olive oil (substituted for shortening), one tablespoon of salt, two tablespoons of caraway seeds. Stir and mix in one cup or so of bread flour judiciously to make it less sticky, and more for your kneading board. Knead thoroughly, then put in a covered, lightly oiled bowl. Let sit for 4 hours.

Take it out and knead and shape it, then put it back in the covered bowl for four more hours. Then put it in a dutch oven, in a heated oven at 400F, with the top on. After 30 minutes, take the top off, and back for another 15 minutes.

Put on a rack and let it cool.

Let the sourdough pumpernickel bread cool on a rack before eating. Yes, that's the hardest part: waiting for it to cool! (Photo by Jim Ewing, ShooFlyFarmBlog)

Let the sourdough pumpernickel bread cool on a rack before eating. Yes, that’s the hardest part: waiting for it to cool! (Photo by Jim Ewing, ShooFlyFarmBlog)

Again, I’m not sure I would recommend this. I did not leave it overnight, which might improve it, since that’s how most sourdoughs are made, but I was a bit hesitant since I added so much molasses and wanted to keep an eye on it; also, leaving dough overnight normally makes the flavor stronger (which might not be a good thing with pumpernickel).

 

Next time, if I choose to make pumpernickel bread, I think I’ll just use the rye flour by itself and not sourdough starter. It’s just a bit too strong for my taste.

Onward!

Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, and former organic farmer now teaching natural, sustainable and organic agricultural practices. His latest book is Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press). Find Jim on Facebook, follow him @EdiblePrayers or @OrganicWriter or visit blueskywaters.com.

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No-Knead Sourdough Bread Works Great!

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a rank amateur when it comes to kitchen matters. I can grow food well; it’s the cooking part that stumps me. But I’ve embraced my fears/inadequacies and have been embarking on a trail into the unknown: cooking from scratch.

I think I’ve mastered making bread from scratch – or rather, I can make bread that I’m happy with, even if it maybe wouldn’t win any medals at the county fair. But sourdough bread – which I think is much more nutritious than regular bread (read previous blog entries) – has somewhat eluded me.

With this in mind, I tried a no-knead recipe from Mother Earth News (December 2012/January 2014), and it works great! See: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/no-knead-sourdough-bread-recipe-zmrz13djzmat.aspx

I can attest that the no-knead sourdough recipe in Mother Earth News works great. If I can do it, you can, too! That's corn meal sprinkled on the top, by the way. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

I can attest that the no-knead sourdough recipe in Mother Earth News works great. If I can do it, you can, too! That’s corn meal sprinkled on the top, by the way. (Photo by Jim Ewing)

Part of the problem I’ve been having, I think, is that I haven’t been feeding my starter enough, and I’ve kept it out. If I had fed it until it was robust, then put it in the refrigerator, that probably would have done better.

My old water kefir sourdough starter kind of went limp; so I threw it out and started another starter that I had ordered online – one meant for gluten-free grains. It started off OK, though I used regular organic all-purpose flour; but I left it out too long without feeding it enough and it developed mold.

I researched what to do and was told that you can scrape off the mold and it will recover if you feed it enough. So, I did that — for a week …. scraping of mold, feeding it; scraping off mold, feeding it… Seemed like all I was doing was feeding the mold. So, I threw it out (into the flower bed, so it could return to earth).

But when I came back inside, I noticed there was still a quarter inch of starter clinging to the bottom of the jar and it actually looked pretty good — bubbly — and smelled good — fruity. So, I thought, what the heck, and fed it with quarter cup of flour and quarter cup of filtered water.

Well, it came back great guns! And it’s now fed and resting in the refrigerator. I’ll probably pull it out in a week or two (remembering to feed it once a week), and cook some bread with it.

Meantime, I had started another batch of water kefir sourdough starter (see previous blogs). Since I keep water kefir going, I thought, why not? It’s free.

So, I put two tablespoons of active water kefir with one-quarter cup of flour and quarter cup of filtered water and refed it with flour/water every 12 hours for a week. When the jar was full (Friday), I made my sponge and followed the recipe in Mother Earth News.

I also went out and bought a three-and-a-half quart stainless steel dutch oven (stainless because I bake so much now, I get tired of scraping off dough that’s like concrete). And I bought a spritzer that holds olive oil that deposits a fine spray for cooking surfaces. That’s a big help, too.

I’m quite pleased. If I can make it, so can you. Give it whirl! (And,yes, the corn meal on the top adds a little pizzaz.)
Jim PathFinder Ewing is a journalist, author, and former organic farmer now teaching natural, sustainable and organic agricultural practices. His latest book is Conscious Food: Sustainable Growing, Spiritual Eating (Findhorn Press). Find Jim on Facebook, follow him @EdiblePrayers or @OrganicWriter or visit blueskywaters.com.