Rosemary Sourdough

It’s a-l-i-v-e (File photo)

Growing fungoids to do my baking bidding is about as close as I’ll ever get to being an intergalactic overlord. So, with vernal equuinox approaching and temperatures warming, I cranked up the sourdough starter production. I found an envelope of dried “Giza” variety on the bottommost shelf of my refrigerator — I think it’s ten months old — and rehydrated it.

I received a timely email from Bo Ure, who had stumbled across my previous episode and was also having problems with the South African culture I was using last year. Quoth Bo:

Of the various cultures in my refrigerator, the African is the most difficult, the most flavorful, and the most disappointing. I’m close to tossing it. My culture produces, aching slowly rising, dense, heavy loaf closely resembling a delicious brick. After a long period of neglect my other 9 cultures eagerly leapt back to resurrected life except for the African which is currently in intensive care under lamps and barely shows a sign of life — an occasional forlorn tiny bubble. It has been two days. Bastard culture.

While I was sorry to hear he had bad luck with the culture, I was heartened to know someone was having similar difficulty with this particular strain and, possibly, it not entirely related to my sourdough-tending incompetence.
Indeed, unlike last year, I had no problems activating the culture. By mid-week, I had 1C of happy, active starter.

Rosemary sourdough — makes one loaf

Click for photo

2 tablespoons sourdough starter
2 C whole wheat flour
2 C white flour
2 t crushed, dried rosemary (or more fresh if you have it)
2 T kosher salt
1 T olive oil
Patience, grasshopper.

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons of starter with a cup of white flour and sufficient warm (to touch) water. Cover loosely, and store at room temperature for at least 24 hours.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sponge (above) with the remaining cup of white flour, 2 cups of whole wheat flour, salt and olive oil. Add enough warm water so it starts to form a ball, not too sticky, though!
  3. Once the ball is well formed, mix in the rosemary. Knead for 8 minutes in the mixer.
  4. Lightly spray the sides of the bowl with olive oil, cover, and let rise overnight at room temperature.
  5. Transfer the ball to a lightly oiled, metal loaf pan. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for at least two hours, or until the bread dough starts growing above the pan.
  6. Optionally sprinkle the top with more kosher salt.
  7. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375°F for another 30 minutes. Thump on the top of the bread. If it sounds hollow, it’s done.
  8. Remove from the pan, cool on a wire rack.

I served this instead of the dujmplings in the
Chicken and Dumpling
recipe. Very tasty with the same consistency of a Great Harvest bakery whole wheat loaf, only in sourdough rosemary flavour.

The Giza culture is working better than the South African variety, even with a 50-50 flour combo. The SA culture is wonderfully sour, good for Kalamata Olive loaf, but does it rise well? Pas vraiment. It’s like the Jethro Tull song.

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