Staying this week in a hotel room with a kitchenette, I decided to build on my experience with hotel room kale salad. Was it possible to come up with an edible loaf using only flour, water, store-bought yeast and salt? This hotel room sourdough experiment aims to find out.
The first night I mixed a pinch (maybe 1/8 t) Fleishmann’s Rapid-Rise Yeast from a packet into ½ c warm water then added 1 c Trader Joe’s White Flour. 24 hours later, I was gratified to see a frothy surface like a well tended sourdough starter.
I then added another 1/8 t yeast, 2 c flour, 2/3 c water to make a dough that my calculations was about 68% hydration. I autolysed it, mixed in 1 ½ t salt (the ingredients actually had little taste at this point so lots of salt was important) then did 4 stretch-and-folds over an hour, left it to bulk ferment for another hour and then covered with plastic wrap and stuck into my mini-fridge for 3 days.
When I pulled it out I was pleased to see some nice bubbles accompanied by a faintly sour aroma. I brought it up to room temperature, divided it into a boule and two mini-batards, and let those rise for a couple of hours.
Baking was a challenge because the heat source was a confusing combo convection/microwave oven. After some experimentation I settled on 450 degrees (as hot as it would go) with the convection setting. I put the bread on a plate and a large stewpot upside down on top to capture some humidity. 20 minutes with that setup, then another 20 minutes with the stewpot removed so the bread could brown.
The result was what you see here and while not really sourdough, was pleasant and entirely edible, sort of like a Pepperidge Farm white sandwich bread. My tasters happily tried it with butter and with cheese and half a loaf was quickly consumed.
I’ll try this again, but will probably experiment with milk and some added nuts and fruit from the breakfast bar. (And maybe a packet of instant oatmeal?) Still got lots of that flour to use up.