*  Exported from  MasterCook  *
                            WILD YEAST SOURDOUGH
 Recipe By     : 
 Serving Size  : 6    Preparation Time :0:00
 Categories    : Breads
   Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
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                         Stephen Ceideburg
                         Text Only
   The Chef or Starter (Based by Thorne on the method of
   Lionel Poilane)
   1. Pour one-half cup of (unchlorinated) water into a
   bowl. Work in enough flour to make a “moist but
   cohering dough.” Prac- tice will make this stage
   obvious: when the soupy slurry turns to a solid,
   puttylike mass that can be massaged (kneaded) into a
   small, elastic ball. Please note that no commercial
   yeast has been added. This starter will ferment, if it
   does ferment, be- cause of the presence, either in the
   ambient air or in the flour, of naturally occurring
   yeasts and symbiotic bacteria.
   2. Put the starter in a small bowl. Cover with a damp
   dish towel secured by a rubber band. Leave on a shelf
   in a draft-free kitchen for three days, re-moistening
   the towel as needed (and when possible: clearly, the
   atmosphere in your kitchen may dry out the towel so
   rapidly that only round-the clock surveillance will
   really keep the towel continually moist. Eternal
   vigilance is impossible, but do your best. Also please
   note that no kitchen temperature is specified, since
   you will probably have to work with what you've got.
   Unheated kitchens in severe winter weather are
   obviously not the ideal, but the normal range of
   temperature in a modern home should work in something
   like the times speci- fied here and below).
   3. The starter is activated when it looks and smells
   active. Fermentation produces a noticeable expansion
   in its size and a slightly “tangy” odor. It can then
   be used or refrigerated for several days.
   The Levain, or Sponge: 8-ounce starter, 2 1/2 cups
   Put the starter in a bowl with 1 1/4 cups cold water
   (cold to slow the fermentation, on the theory that a
   long rising at this point improves flavor and. be
   cause it relaxes the gluten, makes the job of working
   in the water easier). Work until the starter has
   completely dissolved. (Thorne uses his hands: an
   electric hand beater is it much more efficient. Just
   add a little water at a time.) Stir in the flour and
   the salt to make a loose mass. With floured hands move
   it to a clean bowl. Cover with a damp towel and a
   piece of plastic wrap. Secure with a rubber band and
   leave to ripen overnight in a cool place (Thorne
   specifies 60 degrees).
   The Loaf: 1 sponge, Flour, Cornmeal
   1. Put the sponge on a well-floured surface. Begin to
   work in the new flour. The idea is to knead in as much
   flour as the sponge will “take” until it turns into
   silken, nonsticky dough that is a pleasure to work. No
   amount of flour is specified. The limiting factor is
   the 1 1/4 cups of water added at the sponge stage.
   This kneading stage takes 12 to 15 minutes, during
   which the movement activates the elasticity of the
   gluten and traps air in the dough so that the yeast
   can do its work.
   2. Dust the dough with flour, put it in a large,
   lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel and let
   rise to double in bulk. This is a fairly fast rise and
   needs a warm environment, around 80 degrees, for one
   to three hours, usually about two.
   3. Flour your hands and gently rework the dough to
   break up air bubbles. Pinch off an egg-shaped piece of
   the dough and reserve as the starter for subsequent
   adventures. Line a colander with a generously floured
   towel, and secure it around the colan- der’s perimeter
   with a rubber band. Set the dough on the towel and let
   rise almost as far as it did on the first rise.
   4. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the base of
   the bread cloche.
   5. When the dough is ready, sprinkle the cloche base
   liber- ally with corn meal. Then, grasping the towel,
   pick up the loaf, and roll it gently onto the cloche
   base so that the round part faces up. Slash the
   surface in three places with a sharp knife or single
   edged razor blade. Place in oven, cover with cloche
   top, and bake for 15 minutes.
   6. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake another 20
   minutes. Then remove the cloche top to brown the crust
   for about 10 minutes. The loaf is done if it sounds
   hollow when tapped on the bottom. After it cools,
   store in a closed paper bag.
   Yield: One crusty loaf.
   Raymond Sokolov writing in “Natural History”, 4/93.
   (Abstracted from Outlaw Cook, by John Thorne, Farrar,
   Straus & Giroux, 1992)
   Posted by Stephen Ceideburg
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