Friday, January 24, 2014

Sourdough (Part 2) - The Bread

The dough I showed you yesterday turned into this:

My first ever loaf of sourdough bread.  I had scoured the internet looking for the perfect recipe to make a basic simple loaf of sourdough bread.  The majority called for multiple kinds of flour and tricks that made you wonder if you were making bread or auditioning for a circus.  The ones that were simple and basic, called for the addition of commercial yeast! 

Now I have nothing against a good loaf of homemade bread that uses commercial yeast.  I've made plenty of loaves that way myself.  But what is the point of going to all the trouble to harness and nurture my colony of wild yeast if I'm going to add commercial yeast to do their work.  It didn't make any sense.

In the end, I took what I know of yeast and made bread.  And it was the softest, most wonderful feeling bread dough I've ever made.  I keep asking myself why it took me so long to try this.

Here's what the dough looked like when I first put it in the pan, and when it was done rising:

I let the first rise go about three hours before I put it in the pan.  Once I put it in the pan, I let it rise until it was about double.  That only took about 2 hours. 

Every site I've read about sourdough bread says it takes a much longer time to rise.  They range from saying 8-12 hours to 12-24 hours.  That could be one of the reasons I've never tried it. 

I probably could have waited just a little longer for it rise and gotten a slightly taller loaf of bread.  I'm just not patient enough for that.  I'm going to let my next loaf rise while I'm out grocery shopping tomorrow.

Hopefully it doesn't over rise while I'm out. 

So the big thing to remember with making bread is that how much flour you need is going to vary according to different things.  How much water is in your mixture is, of course, the biggest.  But also how dry the air is will have an effect.  Since it's winter and the air is drier, I most likely used less flour than I would in the middle of summer when it tends to be more humid.  You want your dough to be a little tacky, but not a messy sort of sticky.

So here's the recipe I made up as I went along.  It says 2-4 cups of water, because I can't remember now much I put in. 

Heidi's Sourdough Bread

2 cups sourdough starter
1 TBS honey
1 TBS oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup of water
2-4 cups flour

Combine starter, honey, oil and water.  Add salt and one cup of flour.  Continue to add flour one cup at a time until a stick dough forms.  At this point knead in flour just a little at at time until you have a tacky and elastic feel dough. 

I recommend using a stand mixer, but if you don't have one knead the dough by hand.  Kneading by hand takes a little longer, but will give you the same result. 

At this point put the dough in an oiled bowl (about 2 tsp of oil in a bowl) and roll the dough around so it's coated well with the oil.  Cover it and let it rise until about double in size.  Punch the dough down and shape it into whatever kind of loaf you would like.  If you want a round loaf, you can put it on a cookie sheet.  I used a loaf pan so I could make sandwiches.

Bake for roughly one hour, or until nicely browned and the loaf sounds hallow when you thump it with your fingers.  Take it out of the oven and try to tell it cool a little before you start slicing it and adding butter. 

The kids and I had grilled peanut butter and jelly for dinner.  It was the only good sandwich making stuff we had and we really wanted to have the bread for dinner.   In case you are wondering, the jelly was apple. 

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