Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Bread

I had some questions about the sourdough bread recipe I use. First let me say, I am NO professional bread baker. In fact, I'm not even a beginner. I'm whatever comes before beginner!! HA! I was not too successful in my previous bread-baking escapades from last year. I maybe got it right once. But it must the these pregnancy hormones. Because every night in bed (you know, after my huge dinner AND couple of rounds of desserts) all I can think about is a fresh, hot loaf of sourdough bread with butter on it. And yes, the real butter - not my fake spray butter I use sometimes! Oh, my mouth is watering just thinking about it now!

This is the same recipe my mom used when I was growing up! She had it down pat....I mean, down to a science. Every loaf was perfect!

Sourdough Bread Starter

1 package dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons instant potato flakes (basically 1/4 cup)

Mix yeast with 1/2 cup of the warm water. Combine sugar, remaining one cup of warm water and potato flakes. Stir. Add yeast mixture, stirring again. Cover loosely with foil or plastic wrap (punch holes in cover). Let mixture stand all day. Refrigerate that night. After three days, take it out and feed it.

Sourdough Feeder

1 cup warm water
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons instant potato flakes

Mix all ingredients, then add to starter. Allow starter to stand out of refrigerator all day. Mixture shouldn't rise, but will start to bubble. At the end of the day (or 12 hours), remove one cup of starter o use in making bread. (If not making bread, give one cup of starter away or throw it away.) Return remainder to refregerator. After 3-5 days, feed again.

Sourdough Bread

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup starter
6 cups of bread flour

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a wodden spoon until a stiff dough is formed. (You can use your bread hook on you standing mixer) Oil another large bowl. Put dough in oild bowl, then turn dough over so oiled side of bread is on top. oil a large peice of wax paper, cover bowl with oiled wax paper, then cover with a towel. Allow oto stand overnight, or until dough has doubled in volume.
Punch dough down. Knead 3-4 times (too much kneading will release gasses needed for rising). Divide dough into two equal portions. Place each portion in a greased 5 inch by 9 inch loaf pan. Let rise all day, or until doubled . Bake on bottom rack of 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. REmove from pans and brush with melted butter. Cool bread on a rack. If bread runs over sides of pan, next time make three loaves from this recipe.

Tips (yeah, I know tips from a less than beginner)

1. I used a big glass pickle jar with holes in the lid to hold my starter.
2. I used my bread hook on my kitchen aid mixer to mix the dough. Then left it in the bowl, sprayed it with pam, sprayed some saran wrap with pam and loosely covered it.
3. I left mine in the oven with the light on to rise - gives it just a little heat.
4. Salt kills yeast. So don't add those to ingredients right on top of each other. I add the salt in the middle of the flour, then add the starter last.

My biggest problem was it not rising enough while I cooked it. Well, the first loaf always turned out okay, it was always the subsequent loaves. I could never find a reason for this and kept up my starter as best I could. I decided to start over, with fresh new ingredients. Also, I'm hoping the soon to be more humid days will help with the rising. I also plan on trying to cook only one loaf at a time. Two loaves was just too much for me. Plus, I couldn't give it away or eat it fast enough and was wasting money. They say that the starter has to "get used" to your house. That the longer you have it going, the better it gets. So it can take some time. I've heard of people having starters for YEARS and years and years. Crazy, huh. You can't forget about it...it's like a pet. It'll die if you don't feed it!

So go ahead, my fellow bakers! Give it a try! And then let me know how it turns out! :-)

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