Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Oatmeal Sourdough Rolls and Learning New Tricks

This weekend I was talking to my sister-in-law about our mutual love of sourdough bread.
Not just any sourdough, though- the really tangy good stuff that lives up to its name.

The stuff I really haven't had outside of California, to be honest.
Crusty, chewy, air hole-filled, sour sourdough bread.

For all of middle school my lunch consisted of a turkey breast sandwich on sliced San Luis Sourdough bread with yellow mustard and a Snapple Peach Iced Tea.
Every day.  Because perfection.

Anyway, never having baked sourdough bread myself I really don't know what it is that makes most commercially produced sourdoughs outside of California so different from what I grew up with- I mean, of course there's a difference in yeast.  There's probably also a desire to tone down the flavor for a larger audience?  I don't know.

I do know that when I was in the Air Force my mom used to ship me loaves of the good stuff and I had it in my freezer at all times because I couldn't live without it.

So back to that conversation the other day- we were lamenting the lack of flavorful sourdough in our lives.

So I decided to do something about that.
I've been googling all manner of ways of "souring up" sour dough and have so many things I need to try now, but first things first- I made a starter.

It's a very new starter, and not having any experience whatsoever with these things I'm only speaking from what limited knowledge I've gleaned from Google over the past few days, but if I understand correctly the flavor should develop and improve as it ages and as I feed it things like small amounts of rye flour and avoid pouring off the liquid on top and...yeah, I think I have a bit of a learning curve ahead of me.

I'll keep you updated as this little experiment of mine continues.

But first things first- I have a very new little baby sourdough starter hanging out in my fridge right now after an initial 2 day ferment at room temperature.  I wasn't expecting a very strong flavor at this stage, but I wanted to do something with it because I've never worked with a starter before and I was very excited to, well, get started.  :-)

I decided to ease into this whole thing with a simple roll recipe that didn't look like it would be bothered too much by a mild starter that wasn't very flavorful yet so I went with these Oatmeal Sourdough Rolls.

My family devoured them.

They were so soft and flavorful, with a bit of tang from my still-young starter but sweetness from the honey and brown sugar and depth of flavor from the molasses.
They were an excellent place to start!  Obviously they're not the super tangy bread I hope to someday achieve, but they were super delicious a great way to break into the world of baking with starters!

1 C sourdough starter
1/2 C warm water
3 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp molasses
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 C margarine, softened
1/2 C quick cooking oats (or rolled oats soaked in water for 15 mins)
3 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp yeast (optional, but may need to increase rise time without it)

1. Combine all ingredients in bowl of stand mixer and mix with dough hook for 5 minutes until dough is smooth and pliable but not sticky (add a little more flour as necessary).  Transfer to a greased bowl and cover with damp towel, allow to rise in warm place until doubled, approximately 1 hour.

2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and divide into 24 rolls. Cover with a towel and let rolls rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.  Arrange the rolls on the prepared baking sheet, and bake 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned.  Top with melted butter while still warm if desired.

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