Thursday, December 2, 2010

King Arthur vs. Martha

As I mentioned yesterday Gail and I exchanged our Hanukkah presents a few days before thanksgiving & I received the great sourdough starter & enamel container set from King Arthur flour. With a few extra days off last week I was able to put the King Arthur starter(left in the above photo) to the test. I decided to see how it compares to my own homemade starter, Martha(right in the above photo).
I used the same recipe to feed both starters and make the bread. I kept both starters labeled:
After combining the fed starter and initial ingredients I let each bowl sit on the counter for 4 hours, followed by 12 hours in the fridge. King Arthur came out of the fridge stretch and firm while Martha was bubbly and almost soupy. Both had a strong tangy aroma, so I was pleased to be on the right path.
I added the remaining ingredients into the dough and let them sit covered in a bowl for 5 more hours , shaped the dough into loaves and placed them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. I let the loaves rise an additional 3 hours before placing them into the oven:
Here is what they looked like just before they went into the oven:

It's hard to tell from the angle I took the above photo, but the loaf made with the King Arthur starter had risen dramatically compared to Martha. The King Arthur loaf was puffy while Martha remained flat, having spread more then risen.
The final results speak for themselves:
The King Arthur loaf had a nice crispy crust and had a delicious tangy taste with it's first use! I was pleased with Martha's tanginess but the loaf was extremely doughy and dense. A few slices from the King Arthur loaf, however most slices were fluffy enough.
I think it's clear the King Arthur based loaf was far superior. I have not perfected my sourdough yet, but with this starter my results will dramatically improve!
The recipe I used is based on King Arthur's recipe for Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread with portions reduced to make 1 loaf per recipe instead of 2. My version is below, but I suggest following the link to King Arthur's recipe, it is full of pictures and much more detailed.
Extra-Tangy Sourdough Bread
1 cup fed sourdough starter
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (obviously I use King Arthur)
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2-3/4 tablespoon sugar
1- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
-Combine the starter, water, 1 cup all purpose flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. Beat very well until ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
-Cover, and let stand at room temperature for 4 hours. After 4 hours place covered bowl in refrigerator for 12 hours (overnight).
-Add the remaining all-purpose flour, sugar, and salt. Knead to form a smooth dough (it took me about 4 minutes)
- Let the do rise in a covered bowl until it has smoothed out and risen. This can take as long as 5 hours (which is how long I let it rise)
-Shape the dough into an oval loaf, and place it on a lightly greased or parchment line baking sheet. Cover the loaf and let it rise (again) until puffy (2-4 hours). As rising time nears an end preheat the over to 425F.
-Gently spray or mist the loaves with lukewarm water.
- Make two deep horizontal slashes in the loaf.
-Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes. The loaf should be a deep golden brown color when it is finished. Remove it form the oven and cool on a rack.

I highly suggest looking at the original recipe and note the changes I may have made. I substituted the whole wheat flour because many baking forums and posts regarding sourdough suggested this for a crispier crust.
I was very pleased with my first results of the starter Gail gave me and look forward to more baking adventures with it.

1 comment:

Keri @ King Arthur Flour said...

I'm glad to hear you had such great success with our starter. Your picture is worth a thousand words, but the taste-test is even better! As always, if you ever have any baking questions, please call our Baker's Hotline at 1-800-827-6836.

Happy baking!

Keri @ King Arthur Flour