Sourdough Bread Baking

I love homemade sourdough bread.  It smells divine, and tastes heavenly freshly cut with melted butter and a drizzle of honey.  

Over the years I've tried some different starters, one lasted for 9 years.  Last year I made an Amish Friendship Bread starter along side a rye sourdough starter.  Both were forgotten when I went back to working mostly full time.  Then, a month or two ago I restarted a rye based starter.  

My starter lives in a stock pot on the counter.  It rises and falls with its feedings, smells mellow, and is prolific.  

I take a cup or two of the starter, add molasses or honey, a teaspoon of yeast, buttermilk, and warm water, and let it burp til it's happy and showing it's bubbly.  Then, I add in some whole grain flour.  My current preference is oat flour.  You can purchase this in bulk, or grind your own from old fashioned or steel cut oats in your blender.  I choose to simply buy it in bulk, as I use a lot of it.  

Add in your fat--olive oil or lard is what I choose most often.  I add in eggs as well for a dab of protein and binding.  Put this under your dough hooks if you use them, and stir slowly with the hooks.  If you're doing this by hand, just keep on going, stir with a spoon.  

Add in your flour, what ever kind you choose.  Toss in a dash of salt.  Start kneading, either by hand or hooks, and make yourself an elastic dough ball.  Use as much flour as needed to make the ball.  If you add too much flour, add either water or milk by the teaspoon until you get a good balance.  

Put your dough ball in an oiled bowl/pan/container so it can rise.  I used my large roaster as I made several dough balls in a day and they needed room.  Cover and let rise until doubled.  Although this is sourdough, I don't like waiting for a day or two, so I use the yeast to make this faster, like a regular loaf of bread.

Once it's doubled, punch the dough down, and shape into loaves.  I use regular bread pans, and occasionally I'll break out a pie pan and make rounded loaves.  Use whatever you like, it won't change the taste.  Let this round rise again until double, then put into the oven.  I set to 375 F normally.  All ovens are different, so you may need to adjust for yours.

For a good rise while baking, put a small pan or oven safe bowl of water in oven while preheating.  It makes a good steam that lets the bread rise more before crusting.  Bake until hollow sounding when tapped.  It really depends on what you use for your loaf pan, average 40-ish minutes is what I start with.  

When they're done, pull them, butter the tops, and let them cool a bit before popping them out of the pan.  Cut into one and start devouring!

I enjoy these with butter and a drizzle of honey, sugar free jelly, apple butter, etc.  This makes good croutons as well.  



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