I wondered how the dried cherries would work. Would they turn to a mush and water down the dough? Should I have chopped them first?
As it turned out, they worked beautifully. I plumped them in hot water for about 20 minutes, drained them, and then added them to the dough of mild French sourdough. I mixed them in along with a heaping tablespoon of freshly ground coriander. That spice, and freshly shaved nutmeg, have become favorites.
I came back to the dough every 45 minutes or so to stretch and fold the dough, a step that strengthens the gluten structure. Why? Because it’s the gluten that captures the carbon dioxide released by the yeast, and this is what causes dough to rise.
Interestingly, I could have just as easily walked away from the dough for a few hours by refrigerating it to slow the process. Yup, there are ways to use temperature to extend the breadmaking process to fit your schedule.
There’s nothing like getting up to your elbows in flour to learn how to make loaves of artisan French sourdough in your home kitchen. There’s no substitute for seeing and feeling the way water, flour and sourdough starter come together and transform those simple components from dough to crusty, flavorful bread. And the beauty of it is that once you know the basic recipe, you can make dozens of variations: olive, herb, cranberry and walnut, cornmeal and pumpkin seed, roasted squash, seeded, and more.
This quick slide show highlights steps in the process. I invite you to join us at Bull Brook Keep and get your eyes, fingers, nose into this magical metamorphosis. Click here for upcoming classes and to register.