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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