Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The House Around the Corner - Evelyn Fields

Melissa has been learning a lot of "old" new skills.  Sourdough bread is just one of them.  She has a lot of interesting ideas on saving money, sewing, attempting to live a life without plastic, running a small business from home and other great ideas.  If you are interested in reading her blog, go to Evelyn Fields
Melissa's Sourdough Whole Wheat Bread
  • 2.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 3/4 tablespoon kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • Covered pot (five-quart or larger cast iron, Pyrex, ceramic, enamel…something that can go into a 450F oven.)
  • Sprouted Wheat Flour, if you choose.  This should be done ahead of time.  Sprouted Grain Directions
I have been experimenting with making bread with sprouted whole wheat.  I love bread but my body doesn't and I think sprouting it helps me digest it better.  It is one more process that is easy to do.. It does take a few days and you need a wheat grinder.

1. Mix dough: The day before, combine all ingredients in a big bowl with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. Cover with wet cloth and let sit 20-24 hours on the countertop or in the oven with the oven light on if your house is cool.

2. Shape and preheat: Dump the dough on a floured surface. Fold ends of dough over a few times with the spatula and nudge it into a ball shape. Generously dust a cotton towel (not terrycloth) with flour and set dough in it.  Fold towel over the dough. Let it nap for 2 hours or a lot longer to rise more. To know when it is done rising poke your finger into the dough, when it stops springing back from the hole you made... it it ready.

3. Bake: Pre heat oven to 450 and place empty pot in oven for 1/2 hour. Remove hot pot from oven.  Holding towel, dump wobbly dough into pot. Doesn’t matter which way it lands. Turn down oven to 400 and bake covered for 30 minutes. Uncover, bake another 15-20 minutes or until the crust is beautifully golden and the middle of the loaf is 210F. Remove and let cool on wired rack.

I made Sprouted Sourdough Rye Bread for the first time last night. It has a strong taste so it took me a few bites to start liking it but my husband LOVED it!!!

Making bread usually involves some type or rising, double rising or soaking overnight and a towel is needed to keep unwanted things off and moisture in. I have been using whatever towel I had around for covering the dough and sometimes wondered about lint on it or what I had used it for before it was washed. So I made a towel that is just for rising bread, with a cute little slice of "sprouted" bread on it.  This way it only has one purpose.  Also it looks cuter than my old/stained towels sitting out all day or night on my counter.  These new towels will be in my shop soon. 

My Sourdough Bread Recipe

I have been making sourdough bread for a while now.  Here is a recipe and some tips that have been helpful and I would like to share them with you.  I am also going to do several other recipes from some of the terrific bakers who have been working their recipes out!


Don't forget to save some starter for the next batch - add another 2 cups of flour and 1-1/2 cups of warm water to feed it.
1 cup starter
6 cups flour**
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon sweetner
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 cups warm water

These are approximate measurements.

** Currently I am using:
  • 2 cups organic, fresh ground whole wheat flour.
  • 2 cups organic, fresh ground barley flour.
  • 2 cups organic white flour
 The white flour gives the bread  a nice rise to it.  We could live without it, but at this time, I just add it.  Otherwise, it is a really, really dense loaf.  Nothing wrong with that, just at this time, I add the white - It makes it easier for sandwiches.

This makes a somewhat sticky dough that I just bring together in my Kitchenaid.  I add flour later if necessary to firm it up.  I dump the sticky dough into a glass or ceramic bowl.

Cover with a dishtowel (you can flour it up heavily so the bread does not stick to it) and leave to rise for several hours.  The cute one is from Evelyn Fields.  She has done a lot on the whole bread thing.... look at her site.  I'll list her recipe also as a different post.
I have been trying a damp towel also (trying to replace the plastic wrap I used to use).  I have to re-dampen it a couple of times while it is rising.  If I forget or it is overnight, I end up with a dry towel and a crust on my dough.  I just pat some water on the towel and let it sit for a couple of minutes, then the towel comes right off.  I then knead the crusty part right into the dough and it rehydrates it nicely.
When your dough has doubled in size, pour or scrape onto a counter that has some flour sprinkled on it.  Knead it to a nice consistency.  Add more flour here if necessary.  Shape into round loafs put on parchment paper or your baking pan and recover with the towel.

So far, if you have the ingredients, this just takes a few minutes, twice.

Let your dough rise again - it usually takes about an hour.  Heat the oven.  I keep messing with the temperature and time and right now am doing a long, slow bake (unless I am in a hurry - then I do 400 degrees for 25 minutes) I usually go with 325 degrees for about 40 minutes....  I also like to put a pan of water on the bottom of the oven for moisture.

When I think it is done, I pull it out, turn it over and tap the bottom.  A hollow sound indicates that it is done!

A couple of final tips.... I like to put butter on the top when I pull it out - this makes it easier to cut later.  Alternatively, you can run your hot bread under water very quickly and it should do the same thing.  I like the butter better :)  Here is my butter experiment - it was yummy - organic, raw, cultured, grass-fed butter and buttermilk. (coming soon)

Also, I am trying to avoid plastic and am getting some cloth bread bags from a friend.  You can see her bags here:   Evelyn Fields

Be patient... if it doesn't work out at first, keep trying.  It really just is a skill you need to develop.... Everyone seems to come up with their own recipe and way of doing things that works for them.  If you just keep at it,  you will know how YOUR family likes it.