I realized a couple of weeks ago, when we received our new refrigerator, that I had been neglecting my sourdough starter when I removed the crock from the shelf. I remembered to feed the starter this morning so that I could bake a loaf of bread this afternoon while a roast cooked in the crockpot. Since I’m up to my elbows in flour, I thought it fitting to focus my next-to-the-last entry in my ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness‘ blog posting series on making and baking home-made bread.
I much prefer to bake my own bread. Yes, I occasionally breakdown and purchase a loaf at the grocery store, but for the most part, I prefer to control all the ingredients and I just adore the smell of fresh baked bread. Nothing says ‘Welcome Home’ like bread baking in the oven. My preferred flour, graciously available via my local Dillons grocery store, comes from the King Arthur Flour company. I live in Kansas, the wheat state, where the prized hard red winter wheat is grown specifically for King Arthur Flour, which based in Vermont since 1790 (KAF is 221 years old, 71 years older than Kansas, which is celebrating it’s 150th birthday this year). In addition to having my flour shipped back from Vermont (albeit it conveniently by my local grocery store), I do special order yeast (by the pound), toppings and other handy gadgets a couple of times a year. In fact, I recently took advantage of a free shipping sale to re-stock my pantry. That’s the kind of spam e-mail I like to receive (and why I specifically opted in for their newsletter and e-mail notifications of specials). I even ordered my sourdough starter (plus the crock shown above) from KAF, because it’s a descendant of a New England sourdough that has been bubbling away there for over two hundred and fifty years!
Once the sourdough starter bubbled up (three to four hours after feeding), I decided to take the ‘easy route’ today and make a Rustic Sourdough loaf in my bread machine. The link above includes both a traditional recipe and a bread machine version. I will include the latter in this blog posting:
1 cup “fed” sourdough starter
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
Place the ingredients in the bread pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select the basic white cycle and desired crust and allow the bread machine to do the rest.
If you prefer to shape and bake the loaf in your oven, then select the dough cycle. Remove the doug and gently shape it into an oval loaf, placing it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray the loaves with lukewarm water. Make two fairly deep horizontal slashes in each; a serrated bread knife, wielded firmly, works well here.
Bake the bread for 25 to 30 minutes, until it’s a very deep golden brown. Remove it form the oven, and cool on a rack.
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Besides sourdough, I enjoy making Italian supermarket-style bread, Honey Whole Wheat variations and White Bread (made special for my dad). For more of my recipes, which are frequently variations on recipes posted at the King Arthur Flour web site, please visit My Bread Baking Epiphanies web page.