Monday, 3 June 2013

Sourdough Breadsticks

I've been cooking for probably about a decade now, and its fair to say that I've had a few disasters. I've burnt cakes, undercooked chicken (the oven's fault - I SWEAR), and a pecan pie that - to use a culinary term - just plain sucked. More of then than not I'll sit and seethe for a minute then just chalk it down to experience and reach for the nearest takeaway menu. But, on the rarest of occasions I'll end up creating something that, albeit may not be what I necessarily intended to create, can certainly pass for something else, and actually taste pretty damn good too. And so, on a totally unrelated note, these are my perfectly planned and intentional sourdough breadsticks.
A few weeks ago I started making a sourdough starter. It was a bit of a punt and there were some nervous moments right around week two, but I think I got there in the end. 
I'm not gonna lie to you guys. This stuff don't smell so hot. But it makes such beautiful bread. Crazy.
For a big loaf..err..batch of breadsticks, mix 500g of strong white bread flour with 300ml of the starter and about 300ml of warm water. Add a pinch of salt and give it a good mix. Once it's all combined tip it out onto a floured worktop and give it a hell of a knead. It's REALLY wet and will take a lot of kneading. Use plenty of flour to stop it from sticking...I swore a lot at this stage actually. Once the dough is elastic and coming away from the table, roll it into a ball and pop into a big bowl that's you've ever-so-lightly oiled. Leave in a warm place for two hours.
I can't tell you how much joy I derive from seeing dough rise up like this. And then being able to punch it down. It's the coolest. I'm the coolest. Tip it out of the bowl onto a floured surface and smack it around a bit then shape into a loaf-ish shape.
So this is where it started to go wrong for me. The dough needs to rise for another 10 hours or so. You saw how much the dough had risen last time? So did I. And I still figured it would be a good idea to squeeze it into a nice little loaf tin with barely an inch or two to spare. Poor decision. What you want to do is leave it in a nice big bowl or loaf tray, even on a baking tray, with a bit of oil and covered with cling film. Mine rose like a motherbleeper, all over my oven and I lost half my dough. Great thing to wake up to. 
The other, equally stupid mistake I made was leaving the dough on the side, covered on a baking sheet all day whilst I was at work instead of cooking it straight away. The result was a flat loaf. Hence...breadsticks! If you'd like some bread instead of breadsticks...don't do this. Bake it straight away after the second prove, at 230C for about 30 minutes. Throw a cup of water in the bottom of the oven and the steam will give the bread(sticks) a beautiful brown glossy crust.

So, yes. These were a complete nightmare but at the same time, a little bit of a success as well. They were flat as hell but they tasted good and the sourdough flavour was great. And, with a bowl of pasta or nice bit of cheese, they really did the job I asked of them. It kinda makes me wish I'd taken a photo of the inside of my oven after the dough explosion. It's very funny now, just didn't seem so at half past seven in the morning. I'll know next time...

500g strong white bread flour
200ml warm water

1 comment:

  1. I was just today contemplating doing my first sourdough starter so this post is perfectly timed. Despite not being your original intention those breadsticks do look good, though hopefully better luck next time (and a less messy oven!).