Friday, February 12, 2010

Baking Sourdough Bread.

I like baking bread. There's just something about kneading the dough, letting it rise, and then smelling that goodness wafe out of the oven. On a cold day, it really brings a warm and cozy feeling to the home when the scent of baking bread drifts through the house. Plus there's the bonus of relieving stress and toning your arms when kneading the dough!

I normally make a wheat flour yeast bread. But I've been reading alot about the benefits of Sourdough, and wanted to make some again. I made Sourdough starter and successfully made a few batches of bread last year, but then somehow killed my starter and never made another (I think I fed it too much flour, and too little water one day).

I wanted to try my hand at it again, and this time keep the starter going.

The recipe I used is from Above Rubies issue 76. It is from the kitchen of Serene Allison, and has been used by her family with great results. I do not lay claim to this recipe at all, but I just wanted to show you how I did it, and how easy it is to make a few good loaves of healthy Sourdough Bread.

To see Serene make this recipe in her kitchen, you can go the the Above Rubies YouTube page, or you can look up the recipe in the Above Rubies magazine archive.

I made the starter with:

1 cup Rye Flour
1 cup filtered water
1 tspn honey
Mixed all together in a glass jar that was sterilized. I sterilized it by pouring boiling water from my teapot into it and swishing it around, emptied the water, and let it cool.
Covered with a cheesecloth secured with a rubber band, and set on top of the fridge.

Day 2-6
Each day I sterilized a gallon beverage pitcher, with boiling water, let cool. Poured the starter into the clean container, and mixed in 1 cup Rye Flour and 1 cup water. I noticed that the starter would be pretty thick in the mornings, and since the rye flour does seem to absorb liquid more than wheat, I added a little over a cup of water each day. Probably closer to 1 1/4 cup water. Recovered with a cheesecloth and rubber band, and returned it to the top of the fridge to just let it do it's thing.

Day 4 this is what my starter looked like.

By day 7 I had about 3 quarts of starter, that had a fresh sour smell, and was nice and bubbly throughout.

Thursday night was mixing night. To prepare I dressed in my most comfy socks and donned my favourite apron.

I believe the success of the bread depends on how cozy your feet are when kneading the bread. No matter who you are, you need good comfy socks to make great bread. At least in my kitchen.

Next I greased 5 bread pans with Coconut oil

This recipe makes a larger batch, so you'll need a big bowl to mix it in. I use my dishpan. Scrub it out with hot soapy water, let air dry, and it's good to go.

In the dish pan I measured in 8 cups of my starter, not perfect cups so it could be a little more than 8 cups.

To that I added 1 handful of coarse sea salt, approx 2 1/2 - 3 Tblspns worth of coarse Sea Salt. Then added 6 cups Spelt flour, 2 cups wheat flour, and approx 6 1/2 cups Stoneground Rye flour. With a wooden or sturdy plastic spoon, mix it in till it's a really thick glob.

It almost looks like damp sand that's stuck together.
Then the fun part came. :) I filled a 2 quart jar with filtered water to the 7 cup line. I started by adding 5 cups of water, mixing it in with my hands. You could try mixing it with a spoon, but it's really thick and you would need a really sturdy spoon or utensil. I mixed a little, added a little water, and mixed some more, added a little more, and mixed some more till it was a good consistency. This is not a typical dough that is kneaded on a counter top. It's like a really thick cake batter, and it almost feels like kneading glue that's just starting to harden. This starts out kind of thin, but thickens when the gluten starts to come together. After kneading about five minutes the consistency felt just about right. It was still pretty gooey, but holding together and becoming elastic.

I would of gotten an action pic of my hands in the midst of the goo, but it's hard to hold the phone with dough covered hands.

I then dipped the dough into the waiting bread pans. I used Serene's suggestion by using a table or cereal bowl to use to dip the dough. (Wet the bowl, scoop up some dough, and the dough should flop right out into the pan.) The bread pans are just over 1/2 - 3/4 full.

Cover filled bread pans with a cheesecloth or towel to discourage any little critters from becoming extra protein in your bread.

The pans are sitting on the counter, rising till morning. I'll pop them in to bake (350 deg F for about 1 hour) when I wake up, and the smell of fresh bread should be welcoming my 3 little chicklets when they stumble out of bed.

I'm not left with much of an aftermath to clean up. With my normal yeast bread I have to scrape and wipe down the counter top where I kneaded the bread, plus wash the mixing bowl, the rising bowl, the spoons, etc. Tonight all I have is the dishpan to re wash, and a few measuring cups, a few spoons, and my big jar. Less than a full sink full of dishes and no flour on my counter! Sounds like a winner to me!

The remaining starer, I fed again
1 cup Rye flour
1 cup approx filtered water.
This is what it looks like after being used and fed again.

By continuing to feed it everyday, I should have enough starter to make another batch within a week. With this making 5 generous loaves, this should be enough bread to last my family till the next batch comes out of the oven.

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