It has been quite some time since I’ve tapped into the primitive side of my baking.
In years past, I’ve made herbaceous rosemary foccacia, a flat Italian bread; a crusty baguette, a French classic that makes any meal better; and of course, my Aunt Mena’s butter rolls – fluffy richness guaranteed every time.
After flipping through the pages of our handy dandy Southern Living cookbook (“The Ultimate” to be exact), Sarah and I decided to try out the basic yeast dough. It did not fail us, my friends.
We made this cinnamon bread out of it –
– as well as a basic white bread.
What I mostly want to share with you, though, is the sourdough.
“Sourdough bread has been around for centuries. Ancient Egyptians reportedly combined flour and water, and set the mixture outside where it captured wild yeast spores from the air. The mixture was the ideal environment for the wild yeast to grow. The mixture fermented naturally, leavening the bread and adding the characteristic tangy, sourdough flavor. This was the beginning of what we now call sourdough bread.”
– Southern Living
The history of food is so fascinating to me. I’m just glad that ancient Egyptians stumbled upon that fermenting process so that we can enjoy the distinctive flavor of sourdough.
With this easy recipe, you can enjoy it any time.
Sourdough begins with a “starter” which is a yeast mixture that develops its tangy flavor through fermentation. When you take from it to bake bread, you feed it with more flour, water, and sugar. It will last as long as you keep feeding it. It’s a great gift for bread bakers and is motivation to get in the kitchen and bake yourself – it should be used within 14 days.
This is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favorite homemade bread.
Here’s how you do it:
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
- Combine yeast and 1/2 cup warm water in a 1 cup liquid measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
- Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a medium size nonmetal bowl; stir well. Gradually stir in 2 cups warm water. Add yeast mixture and mix well.
- Cover starter loosely with plastic wrap or cheesecloth – do not cover tightly. Let stand in a warm place (85 degrees F) for 72 hours, stirring 2-3 times daily. Place fermented mixture in refrigerator and stir once a day. Use within 11 days.
- To use, remove sourdough starter from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour.
- Stir starter well, and measure amount of starter needed. Replenish remaining starter with Starter Food and return to refrigerator. Use starter within 2 to 14 days, stirring daily.
- When sourdough starter is used again, repeat procedure for using starter and replenishing with Starter Food.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 tsp sugar
- Stir all ingredients into remaining Sourdough Starter thoroughly.
Now that you have the starter, you can get going on the bread!
Country Crust Sourdough
2 packages active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)
1 cup Sourdough Starter, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
- Combine yeast and warm water in a 2 cup liquid measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.
- Combine yeast mixture, Sourdough Starter, 1/4 cup oil, sugar, salt, eggs, and 3 cups flour in a nonmetal bowl. Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. (You may need extra flour on humid days – the dough absorbs more flour.)
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees F), free from drafts, 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.
- Punch down dough and divide in half; place on a floured surface. Roll each half into an 18-x 9-inch rectangle. Tightly roll up dough, starting at narrow edge; pinch seam and ends together to seal. Place loaves, sea side down, in two greased 9-x5-inch loaf pans. Brush tops with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove loaves from pans; brush with butter. Yield: 2 loaves. Sourdough recipe courtesy of Southern Living
It may sound like a lot of work when you can just go buy a loaf at the supermarket.
And that’s true. You can buy whatever your heart desires.
But it’s more about the experience of baking bread that satiates my appetite. It’s part of my carefully thought-out summer therapeutic plan: Bake bread, eat bread, and repeat. I get my workout in there…somewhere between swing dancing and kneading the dough, everything balances out.
I wish that meant that I could have double the amount of sourdough slices!
Enjoy your fantastic Friday.
And a printable for you –
Don’t forget to browse through my other recipes here