Over the Labor Day weekend I experimented on the Western Wheat Sourdough Bread. I had worked with it before but wanted to fine tune it. The crumb and flavor was excellent on the last batch I made so I thought I would try something interesting with the fermentation. I thought that maybe changing the recipe a little to force the dough to take longer to bulk ferment and to proof would be interesting. If you could get a dough to be slow on purpose, that would give more time for flavor developement before it overfermented.You need a good vigorous starter that will last through a long fermentation, I used NW starter. I added a few ingredients to the dough that are known to inhibit the wild yeast somewhat (cornmeal and malt syrup, wheat germ can also do this). I also added the salt earlier in the recipe because that too helps slow down the yeast. Well I got what I wanted and it really came out super! The bulk fermentation was so slow that it wasn’t even done when I put it to bed in the refrigerator for the evening. Next morning I took out the dough which wasn’t shaped yet and let it warm up a couple of hours.
Then I shaped the loaves and it took six more hours for it to proof. The first two loaves came out great but I didn’t get pictures of loaf number two because it was given away to a friend who showed up. Here is a picture of the first loaf:
The last two loaves were a bit overproofed:
This was a very interesting experiment. The flavor was so very good, the aroma filled the room. Toasting the bread is terrific. I would have to say that prolonging the fermentation instead of hurrying it is the way to go. After all if I wanted bread in a hurry, I would sacrifice flavor, and just add commercial yeast. Since I don’t like to sacrifice flavor for time, I am willing for the dough to take as long as it needs to give me a great loaf of bread!