Friday, December 10, 2010

Wine Sourdough (Now, with Bread)

I had the bright idea of starting a sourdough starter with wine flour added to the mix.

Well, that didn't go so well. After a couple of days, my starter had spots of blue-green mold growing. They were mostly on the sides of the jar, but the starter had an off smell, so I tossed the whole thing and pondered my options.

The thing about sourdough starters is that once they're established, they do a pretty good job of warding off the things that you don't want growing. So I decided that instead of starting a new starter with the wine flour, I'd add the wine flour to an already-established starter and let it grow for a while.

I took my Colorado starter from the fridge, stirred it, fed it, and waited until it got bubbly. Then I moved some of that starter to a clean jar, added some flour, water, and about a teaspoon of wine flour. I kept both starters on the counter and fed them until they were both very active.

It didn't take much time for the starter with the wine flour to change its character - or at least its scent. It smelled winey, for lack of a better description. The starters were equally active, and there was no sign of mold or other contamination in the one with wine.

So far, so good...

Making Wine Sourdough Bread

I fed both of them equally, and when they both surged up in their jars, I harvested 4 ounces from each starter and put it into the bowl of my stand mixer along with 8 ounces of bread flour and 4 ounces of water.  I stirred that up and covered it, intending on leaving it overnight on the counter, but in a couple hours, it had more than doubled in size, and I knew that I needed to slow it down or bake with it. Baking was NOT a good option, so I prepped it for storage and later baking.

I started kneading with my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, and decided that it needed a bit more flour. I added 1 more ounce of bread flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. It was already pretty elastic, so I added 1 tablespoon of olive oil and kneaded just long enough to get that incorporated.

I drizzled a little olive oil into a plastic bag and put the dough in there. Zipped the top, and chucked it into the fridge to contemplate its unruly behavior.

The next morning I took it out of the fridge, gave it a gentle massage, and left it on the counter until it had warmed to about room temperature. About 3 hours before I got back to it. I could see bubbles throughout.

I floured my countertop lightly and removed the dough from the bag and shaped it into a log. Put that on a cornmeal-sprinkled baking sheet, covered it in plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled. Got busy with other things, and forgot to check the clock, but it was probably just shy of 2 hours. Meanwhile, I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.

When the dough was doubled, I slashed it a couple of times and then baked it for about 40 minutes.

It's got really good flavor and texture, and just a hint of something different from the wine flour. The purple color is gone, except just a hint, when you look at it in the right light.

My plan for the starter is to keep feeding it with flour and water, much like grape- or pineapple-infused starters abandon the fruit after the starter is established. I figure that if the wine flour influenced the critters that grow in the starter, that influence should stay - and possibly increase over time - even as the percentage of wine flour decreases. We'll see. Meanwhile, it's a viable and sort of purple starter.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.