Monday, December 1, 2008

Sour Dough Bread

This time of year when there are many parties and family gatherings I receive a lot of requests for my sour dough bread.
The starter was a gift from a neighbor. It came with that friendship bread recipe. I don't like sweets, so I just make my sour dough bread like I used to make my regular yeast bread.
Sour dough starter is alive. Mine lives in the refrigerator in a one gallon plastic freezer bag. Once every week or two, I feed it. Usually there is a little hooch on top of the starter. This is alcohol and I just poor it off. Then I add 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 cup of flower, and 3 cups of water. This is pretty runny stuff, but remember, I just pored off some of the liquid and may need to do that again before I bake.
Many recipes tell you to make a sponge. Not me.
Here are few measurements that I don't use.
2 cups starter
3 cups bread flour
1 egg
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
3 tablespoons honey
Pinch of salt.
Mix it all together. It should be a very soft loose dough. If it is too stiff, add more starter.
Next comes the kneading. Turn out the dough on a floured cutting board. Use lots and lots of flour. Knead by pushing the dough away from you and then folding it back toward you in a rocking motion. Don't be rough and don't kneed too long. As soon as the dough is elastic, holds a ball shape, and is relatively smooth STOP.
Place the dough in an oiled glass bowl and let rise for a long long time. If it cold in the house, I set it on top of my food dehydrator with a plate over the bowl to keep the dough from drying out.
After the dough has doubled or no longer springs back when you pressed it with your thumb, turn it back out onto the cutting board. Divide the dough in half. Knead just like before. Let the dough balls sit for a few minutes and then shape into loaves. Place in a oiled glass baking pan and let rise again for a long long time.
When the dough has doubled in size again, or when you simply run out of time and patience, bake the bread at 350 for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Brush the loaves with melted butter and let cool.
Then get out of the way. People get a little aggressive when cutting and serving this bread.

There are only a few more hours to vote on radishes. Let me know how you feel.
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