Friday, January 16, 2015

Historical Sourdough Part 2 -- Sourdough Tomato and Basil Bread

Last March I was given a batch of 200+ year old sourdough starter named "Melissa."

The story behind it was that an ancestor of the woman who gave it had created the starter and one of her descendants, Melissa, inherited it.  Melissa brought it with her as she walked from the East Coast of America to the West Coast with a covered wagon.  Her descendants have been using it since.

My daughter was home and we decided to play with the starter in different ways.  Not all of the recipes themselves were historical but they were very tasty.  See Historical Sourdough Part 1 for our first play time.

This time we got into my favorite bread machine cookbook, Great Bread Machine Baking by Marlene Brown.  I have had this book for years and have loved the various breads the recipes have yielded.  It has an entire chapter on sourdough.

ISBN 0-7607-1353-7

On page 131 is "Sourdough Tomato and Basil Bread:"

For a two-pound loaf.

3/4 cup warm water (80 degrees F)
1 cup sourdough starter, room temperature
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 ground black pepper
3 2/3 cups bread flour, unsifted
2 teaspoons active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, well drained and chopped *

* You can use dried tomatoes.  Simmer them in water for a few minutes to plump them up.  Drain well and chop.

1.  Measure all ingredients into the bread pan (except sun-dried tomatoes) according to the manufacturer's directions for your machine.  Measure sun-dried tomatoes to add at the beep or when manufacturer directs.  Set the CYCLE to sweet, LOAF SIZE to 2-pound, and CRUST SETTING to whatever you desire.

2.  After about 5 minutes of kneading, check the consistency of your dough.  If dough is not in a smooth round ball, open lid and with machine ON, add liquid a tablespoon at a time if too dry, or add flour a tablespoon at a time if too wet.

3.  Remove the bread promptly from the pan when the machine beeps or on completing the cycle.  Cool on rack before slicing.

My Notes

I use my bread machine to mix the dough and then I shape it by hand and bake it in my oven.  It is also fine to mix it by hand or use a mixer with a dough hook.  Do whatever you are comfortable with!

I used the non-oily tomatoes and I added a little bit of olive oil to the dough to make up for it.  I know, the recipe didn't call for it but I have made this once before a few years ago and noted that 1/2 teaspoon might be good.

The dough was beautiful when it came out of the machine.  I shaped it into two loaves at approximately one pound each.  Yes, I used my kitchen scale.  This doesn't happen too often with me.

After letting them rise about 45 minutes in a warm, draft-free place (the inside of my oven), I put the loaves on the counter and let them rise another 15 minutes while the oven heated to 350 degrees F.  I used that temperature because the pans were glass and they required a 25 degree F lower temperature than a metal pan.

The dough shall rise again
They baked for about 30 minutes, until thumping their tops made a hollow sound.  Also, the crust was nicely browned.  I immediately took the loaves out of the pans to cool on a rack.

The Verdict

The finished loaves were not particularly beautiful but their scent was rich with basil.  We ate one loaf completely before I remembered to take a picture.  The flavor was excellent -- the tomatoes had colored the dough and made the loaf brown inside, which was nice.  The basil was a highlight flavor and the tomatoes added a chewy element along with a light meaty taste.

Beautiful taste
A light toasting brought out the basil flavor even more.

It was good by itself, warm with a little butter, and a good sandwich base.  Success!

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