Breadmaking For The Bipolar Baker

Nothing beats the taste of fresh bread, warm out of the oven. But man what a process right? As if I can remember to pick up those little packets of yeast at the store in anticipation of a breadmaking binge. So I work with a “sourdough” starter. Although I believe the true sourdough officianados would call my starter crap, it works for me. The nice thing is once you get your starter going and bake something even for the first time, you can throw it in the fridge until the next time your hands get twitchy. It will go dormant and hang out on the bottom shelf indefinitely, just get it out and warm it up, feed those little yeasties and your ready to go. I have all the info on making a cheater starter in my breadmaking page so we won’t go into that here. I want to show you today’s breadmaking. I use a pretty standard recipe I got off a facebook post forever ago, thank you mystery breadmaker.
1 Cup of sourdough starter (mines pretty runny at times)
1 1/2 Cups warm water (yeasties like warm)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (I just throw some in, lost measuring spoons)
1/2 Cup sugar (sometimes brown, white on Wednesdays of every other month)
1/2 Cup oil (I’ve been using sunflower)
5-6 Cups flour ( Depends on the type you use, wheat flour really soaks up the moisture, I’ve been using wheat pastry flour and Stoneground whole wheat)

My Method- most days.
Just throw all your wet ingredients in a big plastic bowl. Use plastic and not metal because something about the metal kills the yeasties I’ve heard. Also use a wood or plastic spoon. Dump about 1/3 of your flour in and stir it in, then dump in the other 1/3 and scoop it around. Honestly I just use my hands here. Keep sprinkling in your flour generously until it starts to want to form one big clump. Put some flour on your counter and tip it out on to this and throw some flour on top. It’s probably still pretty sticky. Smoosh and fold (also called Knead) the rest of your flour in. It should feel less sticky but hold it’s shape well. Grease up your big bowl and drop it back in there. I’ve neglected greasing and it don’t hurt nothing. Cover it and let it sit overnight. This gives your yeasties time to eat and belch all those yummy air bubbles into your bread. For the best bread; do all this with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth and drop your ashes in at least once.
Here’s what mine looks like when I put it to bed
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This is what it could look like in the morning.
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I know it takes some forethought and a little follow through to get this far, which can be hard at times, but once you get this close the rest is cake errr…bread. Now this is where I start using the stoneground whole wheat. It makes me feel like this is healthy eating and makes a pretty loaf.
Sprinkle your flour on your counter and dump your risen dough out onto it. If you remembered to grease your bowl it’ll plop right out, if not, just pick the leftovers out of the bowl. Sprinkle the flour over all the sticky parts and start smooshing. It should be pretty sticky again so smoosh in flour until it doesn’t stick to your hands again.
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Smoosh some more and add flour when sticky.
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The recipe calls for doing this for ten minutes but I usually last about three. As long as it’s mostly stretchy I stop whenever. The dough is not ready if it tears when you pull up a big hunk. It should pull up all together and stretch back to the counter.
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The recipe calls for dividing into two here but I lost my bread pans(who knows where) so I’m using this nice enameled cast-iron dutch oven.
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Greasing here is important. I spray it down with oil and drop my dough in. A generally round shape is preferred.
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I recently started putting a slit in the top for flair. A shallow one works fine. As the bread rises it will grow.
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Now just a little more patience is needed. Let it rise again for about four hours. I like to put my bread on the counter above the dishwasher while it’s running. A nice warm spot to speed up the final rise.
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After your pet yeasties have worked for two days to create this magical dough, it is time to kill them and call it bread.
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Put this lump of gooey flour and microbes into the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. As happens you may forget what time you put it in or that your oven and microwave have timers. That is okay because you will just have a browner, yummier crust as long as you don’t over-do it.

Lessons learned this time around; SET THE DAMN TIMER, cut slit a little deeper as well.

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