Want to Impress the Family this Christmas? Try Jack from Meadow Mountain's Sourdough Bread Recipe!
Denver, Colorado's Meadow Mountain band, just released their first full-length album on November 2nd. They have created a sound that is entirely unique to them. Their music plays to each members’ individual strengths, and the finished product is a style of music rooted in traditional, hard-driving bluegrass. You can learn more about them and hear the new music here.
And they just so happen to have an expert bread maker on board. Summers and Jack have a shared interest in artisanal sourdough bread.
"While on tour on the East Coast, we played a show at a bakery called Dogwood Bread in Wadhams NY. In addition to going way above and beyond to take care of the band while we were staying in an apartment above the bakery, the owner let us take some of her sourdough starter when we hit the road. The starter's name is Dough (Doug with a hard G, the H is silent), and it survived another week and a half of travel including several days at Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, and made it all the way back to Colorado where it starts bread to this day."
Summers and Jack have carried on a rousing Instagram competition with photos of their progressively more impressive loaves using the hashtag #bakeoff2018.
"There are many variations on the rustic sourdough loaf. The gold standard is the Tartine loaf, but the recipe is long, involved and daunting for first time sourdough bakers. I've found you can get a great result while cutting a few corners and not sweating over the exacting details."
Here's Jack's sourdough bread recipe for the pragmatic (lazy) baker:
Priming the starter-
The morning of the day before you bake your loaf, pull your starter out of the fridge, feed it a couple tablespoons of flour and water (roughly equal parts) and leave on the counter at room temperature. (If you forget this part, no worries, your starter will work fine straight out of the fridge)
Leaven + Autolyse- The night before the day you bake your loaf combine a few healthy spoonfuls of your starter with a roughly equal amount of warm water (too hot will kill the yeast in your starter), and a spoonful of flour- set aside. This is your leaven.
In a large mixing bowl combine 300g whole wheat flour, 700g white flour, and 20g salt. (or try any other flour at any ratio, 100% white, sub for spelt, rye, whatever. Keep the salt at 20g) To the dry mixture add 700-750g warm water. Get in there with your hands and work the dough just until there are no dry clumps of flour. We're not kneading this bread, adding the water to the flour early like we're doing here is called autolyse, and it develops the gluten in a way that basically eliminates the need to knead. Let both the leaven and the autolyse sit for 30 minutes to a couple hours. (no worries if you don't have time for a full hour of rest, or if you accidentally forget about it for a while)
Building your dough + Primary fermentation-
Add the leaven directly to the large bowl with your autolyse. Once again we're gonna get in there with our hands and work the starter mixture into our wet dough. This will feel wrong. It's sloppy and the wetter leaven doesn't quite want to mix with the dryer autolyse, so it just makes it slippery. Stay strong. Pinching the dough, or squeezing big handfuls allowing it to extrude between your fingers for a couple minutes will get you to a nice, consistent texture. Wash your hands, cover the dough bowl with a towel, and go to bed.
Shaping + Proofing-
In the morning (or afternoon, you're a busy person) the dough should be nearly twice its initial size, full of air bubbles, and smelling nice and sour. With a rubber spatula scrape down the sides of the bowl and knock down the dough. If you have a proofing basket, flour that thing. If not place a clean towel in a medium sized bowl and cover it with a generous amount of flour. There should be enough dough here for two decent sized boules, but sometimes I just make a mega-loaf. Divide the dough in half (if you like), form it roughly into the shape of a ball by pulling the edges to a point in the center and pinching to make a seam, and place it in your proofing basket (or bowl) seam-side up. Now comes the proof, or secondary fermentation. The key here is to allow the yeast to continue eating the dough, but catch it at the right moment so we still get good oven-spring. Allow the dough to proof at least 30 minutes, but not longer than an hour. You can poke the dough to see if it's proofed- you want the imprint from your finger to slowly spring back.
While the dough is proofing place your dutch oven (stock pot, covered cast iron, or whatever closed, oven-safe container you have) on the middle rack of your oven. Preheat to 500 degrees. When your oven is hot and your dough is proofed pull the rack with your dutch oven out and pull off the lid (I shouldn't need to tell you it's hot, be careful). Decisively turn your dough out of the proofing basket and into the hot dutch oven. Quickly score the top of your dough however you like with your sharpest knife. Cover with the lid, and close up that oven. The loaf will spend about 45 minutes in the oven. After 15 minutes covered you should get a nice oven spring and with the steam trapped in your dutch oven the crust will mostly have formed. Uncover your loaf and lower the oven temperature to 475. Continue baking for 20-30 minutes, or until it starts to look the way you want it to.