A few months back, I tried making my own sourdough starter by catching wild yeast in pineapple juice. It worked amazingly well. I've made bread several times, but honestly it's seemed somewhat hit-or-miss. Several loaves were beautiful, but several others were bricks. I've mostly used the sourdough starter to make quickbreads: pizza crusts, tortillas, pretzels, and the like. It's awesome for that, and ridiculously easy.
|Homemade bread may sound scary, but the finished product is worth it.|
|25 pounds of flour fits perfectly in these trash cans. That's bread|
flour on the left and all-purpose flour on the right.
Phase 1 (Sponge)
- 2 cups starter (fed last night)
- 2 cups bread flour (can substitute 1 cup whole wheat flour)
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 T white sugar
Phase 2 (Dough)
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1 T kosher salt
- 1/8 C canola oil
- Combine starter, flour, water, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Place somewhere warm. In winter, our house is cold enough that I can't get the yeast to do its thing without placing it in a barely-warm oven. Preheat the oven for 45-60 seconds, then turn off the oven and put in the mixing bowl. This will need to sit for several hours, depending on the strength of your starter, the warmth of your oven, and so on. Once you can see bubbles on every square centimeter or so, you're ready for phase 2.
- Add flour, kosher salt, and oil to mixing bowl. Mix well. Turn out bowl onto flat surface and knead until dough comes together. Depending on the moisture level in the air, you may need to add a few teaspoons of water or a small handful of flour. Once dough is smooth, return to mixing bowl and let rise for 3-4 hours.
- Divide dough in half and add each half to a lightly-greased sandwich loaf pan. You may want to shape the dough before panning; something like this will work well (although my method is much less fussy).
- Let the dough rise until it's about the size you expect to see in a loaf of bread. I might expect to see the top of the loaf about an inch over the lip of the bread pan, but that's up to you. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, then remove and let cool (slightly) before cutting in and enjoying with butter and honey.
Once it's cooled a little and you've eaten your fill, move whatever is left to an airtight container. We went through several solutions before landing on a 2-gallon ziplock bag. The bread will continue to release steam, but if it's in an airtight container the steam will be reabsorbed into the crust, making it softer. Other than that, there's not really a secret; or at least not one that I know. Enjoy!