August 15, 2013 by epaduani
For one reason or another, perhaps reasons that I can’t adequately explain, I have been drawn to this recipe for Sour-Cream Bread almost since I first looked through Beard on Bread. Maybe it was because of the fact that it is bread made with a base of sour cream, or maybe just because the recipe appeared to be relatively simple. I went online and found many recipes for Sour Cream Bread so it must be somewhat popular, though perhaps not in northern New Jersey where I had lived my entire life before relocating to Florida earlier this summer. From the recipes I found online it looks like it could be more of a “home baked” bread as opposed to one you would find at a bakery. Regardless, I’m curious so I decided to give it a try.
Jim describes the bread as being a “very rich bread with a slightly acidic flavor and a wonderful texture.” He goes to say “I invented it one day when I set out to make buttermilk bread and didn’t have any buttermilk. I resorted to sour cream instead, and the results were highly satisfactory.” As someone who has been accused of being a bit of a nitpicker when it comes to grammar, I’m struck by how Jim felt the need to hyphenate “sour-cream” in the recipe title but not when he listed it as an ingredient, but I digress. He had me at “highly satisfactory.”
Sour-Cream Bread [2 loaves]
1 package active dry yeast
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup warm water (100° to 115°, approximately)
2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
I started out by combining the yeast, sugar and water in a measuring cup and allowing it to proof for 5 minutes. While it was proofing, I put the sour cream, salt and baking soda in the mixing bowl of my stand mixer.
Once the yeast had proofed I added it to the sour cream mixture and then started to add the 4 cups of flour, one cup at a time, to “make a very wet, sticky dough, beating hard with a wooden spoon after each addition.” Considering that I was planning on using the stand mixer to do my kneading, I let the mixer do the hard beating.
If I had chosen to do the kneading by hand, i would have had to dump the dough out onto my lightly floured counter and then use a “baker’s scraper or spackling knife (really???)” to lift the flour and dough and then knead for about 10 minutes. Instead, I simply added an additional 1/2 cup of flour to the mixing bowl, attached my dough hook to the mixer and set it on medium-low for about 10 minutes. Technological advances should never be looked at as cheating or taking the easy way out. After all, how many of you have a hearth in your house for cooking or ride a horse to work? I’m sure someone does, but since no one in my circle of life lives in a castle or on a ranch (or in abject poverty in the case of the hearth…), I’m guess the answer is no one.
Once the dough was done kneading I formed it into a ball and then placed it into my buttered flower bowl, turned it all around to get it coated in butter, covered it with a towel and set it on top of the stove to rise until “doubled in bulk”.
It took about 90 minutes for the dough to rise to what I would consider “doubled in bulk”. I dumped it onto my lightly floured counter and kneaded the dough for a minute before dividing it into two equal pieces. I then formed each piece into a loaf and put them into my two buttered 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf tins. I covered both tins with a towel and set them back on the stove to rise a second time until they doubled again.
I let the second rise go for almost 2 hours, mostly because when I checked it prior to going for a swim in the pool it had not risen sufficiently. By the time I was done swimming it had risen nicely, so I turned my oven to 375°. Once it had heated up I put the tins in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. According to Jim, they would be done with the loaves “sounded hollow when tapped on top and bottom”. After 30 minutes I checked the loaves and only one of them was ready. It definitely sounded hollow, though the color was a little light on the top. It was nicely browned on the bottom, but more of a “light tan” on the top. Maybe that is because there was no egg wash put on the bread prior to baking. I put the other loaf back in the oven for an additional 8 minutes (5 initially and then another 3…) and then it was ready as well. I put both loaves on a rack and let them cool “thoroughly” before slicing.
The loaves definitely look home made, but the true measure, as always, is the taste. I waited about an hour before slicing into the loaves, and it turned out to be worth the wait. The bread had a very pleasing aroma and it cut beautifully. Not crumbly at all, though there was a slight crust around the edges (almost like a commercially-baked loaf of bread you would buy at the supermarket). I’m not picking up any of the “acidic” taste that Jim said was there, but rather it just tastes like a good, yet robust, white bread. Everyone who had a slice seemed to enjoy it and so did I.
I guess after a break of almost 2 months I should have expected to be a little bit rusty, and my last bread (Anadama Bread) certainly reflected that. It feels good to be back to baking…and baking a bread that actually turned out good. That’s the true joy of baking.