Monday, October 22, 2012

Creative Baby Food Series: Bread...the simplest and the tastiest for new bread eaters!

I say simple, and I mean simple.  To me, sourdough is the simplest of breads.  Your "mother" or starter can be kept living for ages if taken care of... let's get to this:

A little history about sourdough, shall we?

Sourdough can be traced back as far as 1500 b.c. and the age of the Egyptians.  Quite simply, it can only be assumed that the discovery was by accident. If ground grains come into contact with some liquid, water or milk, and left to sit at room temperature for a time the wild yeasts that float in the air will settle in the mix and begin to grow.  The yeasts will begin to eat the natural sugars in the dough and convert the into acids, lactic or otherwise, and give the dough a sour flavor.  Trial and error, yes?  Indeed.  Not to mention, in such time the bakery and the brewery (yep, they had beer) usually were housed together.  Hmmmm, beer dumped into flour = fluffy bread.  Yes ma'am!  Now, fast forward many many years and we come to the San Francisco area during the Gold Rush.  The Boudin family, a baking power-house from France, flew onto the scene.  They brought with them their "mother" starter from France to introduce to into a bakery in California.  They became a huge counterpart in the "niche food market"; selling their bread to many a man who became a fan of their unique tasting bread.  If you can believe it, their "mother" has been in use since 1849.  It was even saved from the great earthquake that shattered much of San Francisco in 1906.  CRAZY!!

Simple Sourdough Starter:

2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (optional) - yeast feeds from sugar naturally, this is just a jump start to the
1 pack = 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (no warmer than 115 degrees F or the heat will kill the yeast)


Mix flour, sugar, and yeast together in a 4 qt bowl (use only glass or glazed ceramic to hold your starter; no plastic or metal).  Also, when mixing, use a wooden spoon).  Begin adding the water, stirring it in a little at a time.  This will turn the gluten mixture into a thick paste- no worries if you have lumps, they will disappear.

Cover your bowl with a dish towel (this lets the air and the active yeasts in the air move freely into your starter) and place in a cool dry place (room temperature no higher than 80 degrees F).  Leave sitting for 24 hours.  The starter will bubble up and expand which is why having a larger bowl is necessary.  It will shrink back down, have no fear!

Sourdough bread

4 3/4 cups bread flour, divided
(1) 1/4 oz package active dry yeast
2 Tbsps sugar
2 1/2 tsps salt
2 Tbsps butter, softened
1 cup warm milk
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
olive oil
corn meal
1 large egg
1 Tbsp water

Directions: (you can choose to use your stand mixer or bread machine here) - I use a Kitchen Aid

Combine 1 cup bread flour, sugar, yeast, and salt

add warm milk (some of you may wish to mix all of your ingredients with your stand mixer, but I prefer to take a whisk to everything and then mix in the rest of the flour with the paddle.)

add softened butter (yes, I know, mine is melted...its okay!)

use your paddle attachment to combine the ingredients, but if you wish to knead your dough in the bowl switch to a dough hook

here is my pretty bubbly starter.  mine has actually been at room temperature for about 36 hours.  I prefer
a more intense sour flavor

stir your starter to combine any layering 

on a slow stir, pour your ( 1 1/2 cups) starter 

slowly add in the remainder of your bread flour

once your flour is incorporated and your dough is sticky but not wet and it has pulled itself together on your paddle... 

turn it out onto a clean, lightly floured surface.  The act of kneading is only one used to push out the bigger air bubbles in the dough.  You need not knead your bread forever (by hand or machine).  I usually knead my sourdough ball, roughly, 15 times. done.

either add a little olive oil directly to the dough or to the bottom of your bowl.  Lightly coat the dough in our olive oil so that it won't stick to the bowl while it rises

once your dough rises to double the volume it started (45 min- 2 hours) punch it down.  Let it rise a second time (at least 30 minutes)

dust your cooking surface with corn meal and form you dough ball into a long loaf (above) or keep it as a bread round.

with a sharp knife cut shallow diagonal slits into your loaf ( this simply give your bread a way to expand, attractively)

beat your egg and Tbsp of water together

brush the egg wash over the top of the bread (this gives a lovely browned firm crust)

toss your bread into your oven!!! what comes out is miraculous!

oven heated to 375 degrees F; bake until golden brown (25-35 minutes)

The yield for this recipe is 4 bread bowls, 2 10 inch loaves, or 2 large bread rounds.  Below are some examples of add-ins to your bread.  Yummy buttered sourdough is great by itself, but sometimes everything needs a face-lift!

yummy breakfast cinnamon sourdough

Momma's favorite lunch with her sourdough!

UPDATE:  The ladies from girlichef are hosting a BYOB (Bake-Your-Own-Bread) Event.  We are now a feature in their links!!  SO FUN!