Saturday, 25 April 2015

Medwin House Sourdough Cob

Medwin House Sourdough Cob

New section: White Cob made with a Poolish updated 24th April 2015

Homemade sourdough cob is especially pleasing to bake and that extra effort it takes is well worth it. Its a case of setting your day around the process so to speak and keeping an eye on the clock. So my Medwin House Sourdough Cob took around twelve hours proving time. Was it worth the wait? absolutely! would I do it again? without doubt! This sourdough cob is only the second attempt that I have made and it was certainly worth having another go. My first effort fell short because I didn't prove it long enough so it ended up heavy and dense. This time I gave the initial or first prove nearly eight hours before knocking back the dough and moulding. The final prove took just under four hours. The only drawback was that the cob formed a skin because of the length of time proving and without a suitable proving box. I used the upper oven or grill compartment for proofing but because of the long proving time the skin was unavoidable. What I need to do is fashion a container to keep the dough moist while proving (a proving cupboard).

If its flavour you're after then there is no equal when it comes to a classic Sourdough bread, the tangy sour flavour is mouthwateringly stunning. The combination of that thick crusty outside with a delightful chewy tangy inside is truly worth the effort. I am now an official sourdough fan, and I will never eat any other bread again (probably will do fresh yeast doughs again). I can't wait to explore the many sourdough varieties.

Medwin House Sourdough Cob

Since proving is an integral part of the sourdough process It seems prudent to fashion a home made solution. Commercial proofers are ridiculously expensive so after trawling through a few baking forums I found a cheaper solution. I will need two large plastic containers. Put some water in one container and lay a fish tank heater inside, then place the other plastic container inside that, this is the one that will hold the dough. The fish tank heater will give me a precise and constant heat and the sealed top container will provide a more ideal environment for the dough to rise. This will definitely speed up the final proving time. Scrap all that I now know through the forums that a portable folding proofer no less is available in the UK. Its been available in North America for several years and now there's a UK version. I have already ordered it after reading reviews from amazon.com which fairly overwhelmingly approve.

Prep time        12 hours
Bake Time      40 minutes
Total time       12 hours, 40 minutes

Ingredients
375g Strong Flour (good quality strong flour)
250g Starter (needs to be at least a week old)
7½g salt
130 - 175ml Water
Olive oil for kneading (optional for hand mixing unless you use the machine method)

Directions

Step 1
Put your strong flour into a machine bowl fitted with a dough hook, add your salt and give it a quick mix to disperse the salt into the flour.

Step 2
Add your starter and initially about 130 ml of tepid water and start mixing on low speed until the dough starts to come together. You want a wet dough so add more water to acquire this. Increase and mix on speed 2 for another 5 minutes or until you have a smooth wet dough. Its important that your finished dough isn't too tight as this will slow down the fermentation and result in a tough dough.

Step 3
Cover your mixing bowl with cling film and leave to proof in a warm draft free environment for between 6 to
8 hours.

Step 4
Knock back your sourdough to get all the air out and further knead until you have a nice smooth dough. If you start to see the dough tearing too much then let it rest uncovered for ten minutes. Now shape or mould your sourdough into a round cob and place onto a floured baking sheet. Cover your cob with a light tea towel or place the cob into a sealed warm container and leave to proof for a further four hours. Preheat your oven 20 minutes before use to its highest setting normally around 220°C / 425°F / Gas Mark 7 and place a roasting tin filled halfway with water into the bottom of your oven. Remember every home is different so experiment with your proofing times

Step 5
Now your oven is set all you have to do is slash your cob with two lines to make a cross, try not to drag the blade but use quick flick strokes. Quickly but carefully slide your baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature of your oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas Mark 5 for a further 20 minutes, this will create that lovely thick crunchy crust.

Step 6
Take some pictures and show off your sourdough, then get a serrated knife and cut a slice of sourdough bread heaven and as soon as you get your first taste you will be planning your next sourdough.... enjoy

Note
This Sourdough Cob recipe assumes that you don't have a proofing cupboard, but if you do own a folding proofer for example then the proofing times will dramatically reduce to around a total of 3 to 4 hours. This is just an approximation on my part as I haven't yet tried this recipe with a proper proofer. Remember too that every home is different with warm and cold climates so you will have to experiment.

So expect to see more than just my Medwin House Sourdough Cob in the coming weeks and months. With this folding proofer I can cut back the proofing time dramatically which means more sourdough and more consistency.
Medwin House Sourdough Cob



This is a Banneton Sourdough Cob, as you can see from the classic circular lines from the proofing basket (500 grams) and I used my recently purchased folding proofer. The results are a crispy crunchy crust, the banneton proofing basket allows for moisture to move more freely and encourage a crispy crust finish.

Banneton sourdough cob



White Cob made with a Poolish, which is a similar process to sourdough but a lot faster, although not nearly as much flavour. The french and Italian bakers use this method.


Around 45% strong white flour to 55% hydration, so for this 900g cob you will need....

For the Poolish or starter (French for Polish)

250g strong white bread flour
300ml cold water
good pinch of salt
1 level teaspoon of dried instant yeast

Mix all ingredients into a smooth batter and cover airtight with cling film, make sure to allow for more than doubling in size. So this 1st proof will take around 7 hours, then add 375g more strong white flour and add water to suit (you want a wet dough), work and develop the dough until smooth and elastic, do not overwork, proof for another 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours. Bake in a hot oven 220 C with a pan of bubbling water in the base of the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 200 C for another 35 minutes.


You can make the starter or Poolish just before you turn in so that its ready to mix and shape in the morning.




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