Monday, April 1, 2013

Making Sourdough Bread

Click here if you want to learn how to make sourdough starter

I make bread about once a week and leave my jar of starter out all the time. If you are not going to be making bread, you can put your jar in the refrigerator. The cold temperature will cause your starter to "sleep". If you want to take it out and use it, you will need to wake it up again by adding more flour and water. Then by the next day, it will be bubbly again. At that time it will be ready to use.

If you want to make bread, but don't have enough starter, you can feed your starter every few hours to build it up. But wait until the next morning to make your bread or it will not taste very sour.

Decide what morning you are going to make your bread.  Consider that the bread will take about 8 hours to rise. I make it after breakfast and then bake it after dinner. 

So it's morning, and you are now ready to make your bread.  Do not feed your starter until after you make your bread.  You want your starter to be bubbly, active, and sour.  My simple bread recipe has the following three ingredients:
1. starter
2. salt
3. flour

My recipe makes three regular sized bread loaves (or you can shape them to go into different pans).  To do this I add 6 cups of starter to my bowl, 2 tablespoons of salt, and as much flour as I need to get a good consistency.  I like to mix my bread in my Bosch mixer.  You could use a KitchenAid or do it by hand.  The rule of thumb with the Bosch is, you know you've added enough flour when the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.  With sourdough, I usually end up adding a little more flour than that.  So just keep adding and mixing until you have a nice dough ball.  It will be around 6 cups of flour.  Once you have enough flour, kneed it a few times, shape it, and put it into your pans.  It's that simple! :) 

Six cups of starter

Two tablespoons of salt


Mixing it up

I do not use bleached flour.  I use a flour called Golden White.  It has the bran taken out, but the germ left in, therefore it is more nutritious.  You can also use other flours.  I like to add two or three cups of rye flour and the rest white.  I have used wheat occasionally too, just for something different (although I have found that the bread takes longer to rise with wheat).

It is OK if the bread is a little sticky.  When you are ready to shape it, put some olive oil on your counter and coat your dough with it.  Cut it into however many loaves you need, and then roll it and shape it to fit into your pans.  Cover your pans with a towel and let the loaves sit until they are the size you like, about double.  Your dough will rise very slowly, so be patient.  I've had my dough rise in 6 hours and have had it take as long as 10 hours, but it's usually ready in about 8 hours.  Bake your loaves at 350 for one hour.  That's it!  You will love this bread!  Now don't forget to feed your starter again.  Always feed it after you use it.

Sourdough is not as picky as yeast bread.  Every loaf turns out, but not every loaf is the same.  Some will be more dense, others light and fluffy.  Some will taste more sour than others.  You are catching bacteria from the air, so it will not always be predictable, but my family will tell you, it always tastes good! :)

Bread loaves rising in pie plates

The finished product

Bread that was bake in a stoneware bowl

Shaped to fit  a long dish

This bread dough is in a basket lined with a towel that's coated with flour.  This works really well.  You can find narrow baskets at Walmart and use those for make sourdough "french" bread. 

Here are the two loaves ready to go into the oven.  I flipped the loaves onto my hand and forearm and them put them on a rectangular stone that was already preheated in the oven.  One loaf was served to company on Friday with spaghetti hot dish.  The other loaf was served for Easter brunch along with quiche, fruit salad, sausage, and banana bread.

Email me or post any questions that you have.  I will try to find time this month to do a video for you, so you can see the whole process.

Next I will post on some other things you can do with your starter! :)  It will become your best friend! :)

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