Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Basic Sourdough Bread with Yeast

I don't have the patience for sourdough bread that rises just with the starter, so when I want basic sourdough bread, I use yeast in the recipe.

Here are the ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • 1 small whisk dipped in local honey
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 5 1/2 - 6 cups unbleached bread flour
  • 1/4 cup fine cornmeal (I prefer white) for sprinkling

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the warm water, stirring it in with a whisk dipped in local honey. Allow this to stand for about 10 minutes until foamy.

In your mixer's large bowl, combine starter, the remaining water, sugar, melted butted, salt and 3 cups of flour. Beat about 1 minute. Add the yeast mixture and beat for another minute. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Switch to a dough hook and knead for a few more minutes (about 3) I always also knead a few minutes by hand.

Oil a bowl and put the dough in the container. Turn it once to coat the top and cover with a damp towel. Let rise until doubled - about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

Gently deflate the dough. Grease two loaf pans and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Divide the dough into two parts and shape into rectangular loaves. Place these in the pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a wet towel and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 about 20 minutes before you want to bake the bread.

Place the pans in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 35 - 40 minutes, until the tops are golden brown (sourdough bread never gets as brown as other types).

Cool on a rack and enjoy!
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sourdough French Bread

I haven't used my starter in about a month so it needed to be kneaded! I decided to make sourdough French bread to go with my Sunday family dinner of red beans and rice, fruit salad, green salad. Doesn't sourdough French bread sound just right with that menu?

Here's the recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 T yeast
  • 1 tiny whisk dipped in honey
  • 1 cup starter
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • About 1/2 tsp soda
  • 2 more cups unsifted bread flour
Pour warm water into mixing bowl and stir in the yeast, using a whisk dipped in honey. Add the starter. Mix the 4 cups flour, sugar and salt together and stir into the yeast mixture. Mix vigorously for about 3 minutes. Turn this mixture into a greased bowl.

Cover with a wet towel (a much greener solution than using plastic wrap) and allow to rise until double (2 hours about)

Stir the soda into the remaining cup of flour. Add to the dough gradually - about a T or so at a time. Dough will be very stiff. Knead (if using machine dough hook or by hand) for 8 minutes until satiny and dough can't absorb any more flour.

Shape into 2 oblong loaves and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. I have this perforated device designed for French bread, so I used it.

Cover with a wet towel and let rise again until doubled (about another 1 1/2 - 2 hours). I made the mistake of not re-wetting my towel from rise number one and it stuck to the bread - see the wrinkles in the risen loaves below? So when I removed the towel, I did cover it with plastic for a short 20 minute rise to help with the damage from removing the towel (and thus collapsing some of the rise).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When you put the bread in, spray the bread with water and spray the oven about three times in the first 10 minutes. Bake overall for about 45 minutes.

We had this delicious bread with our Sunday dinner but I have been eating it sliced thin for pimento cheese sandwiches and for the past two mornings have used it to make Toad in the Hole - anyone remember that from growing up?

Toad in the Hole:
  • Take a biscuit cutter and cut a circle out of the center of a one inch thick slice of bread.
  • Butter the bread and warm up the iron skillet.
  • Place the bread buttered side down (I put the holes in the skillet too) and
  • crack a farm egg into the hole in the bread slice.
  • When the egg looks ready, flip it over.
  • When done you have a delicious egg fried inside the delicious skillet toasted bread
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Monday, June 1, 2009

Rosemary Thyme Bread

With parsley and sage, this bread would complete the Simon and Garfunkle song. I have a huge rosemary bush in my front garden and am always trying to find ways to use it. This weekend I made both a focaccia with an infusion of rosemary, onion, garlic and oil on the top of it and a loaf bread with rosemary and thyme. Since I've talked about focaccia recently, here's the rosemary and thyme bread.


  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur's white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 T fresh thyme leaves or 1 T dried
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • about 4 1/2 cups unbleached white flour

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. I always add a dollop of honey to my yeast and warm water. I do it by dipping a small whisk into a jar of my honey and using that whisk to stir the yeast into the water.

Stir the olive oil into the yeast mixture. Stir together the whole wheat flour, herbs, salt and 2 cups of the while flour in a medium bowl.
Note that the recipe calls for 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary. Below you can see a 1/4 cup measuring cup filled with fresh rosemary leaves.

After finely chopping the rosemary, I only have about half of what I need. So I chopped almost the same amount to bring the 1/4 cup to full. It's always important in a recipe to distinguish if they say 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped vs. what we have in this recipe: 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh rosemary.

Add the flour/herb mix to the yeast mixture and mix together well with the paddle. Adding flour gradually as needed, change to the dough hook on the mixture and mix on low for about 2 minutes. Move to medium speed and knead with the dough hook for about 8 minutes. If the dough is very sticky, gradually add flour as needed.

Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and knead a little by hand. Let dough rise in a lightly greased bowl for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and put it into pans (I used round baking pans) or you can shape it into rounds and let it rise on a cookie sheet for a more primitive looking loaf, or if you have them, you can let it rise in a banneton.

About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450. When you are ready to put the loaves into the oven, slash across the tops with a sharp knife. Bake for 10 minutes, spraying with water a couple of times during this period.

Reduce the heat to 400 and bake for another 30 - 35 minutes until the loaves are brown.

Remove from pan, cool on a rack, and enjoy.

Note: Sorry about the delay between postings. My youngest daughter got married in the middle of April and I got out of the routine, but I'm back now! I never stopped baking, just stopped posting, so I may go back and fill in some gaps as I have time.
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