Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sourdough Bread

This bread has evolved over the past year. We need to avoid wheat (but not gluten), so I've been using a gluten-free baking flour. But I'm posting here a version that uses wheat, since most people will find that to be the ideal bread flour.

* 4 cups Sourdough Starter
* 1 Tbls + 1 tsp Sea Salt
* 2 large eggs
* 1/2 cup filtered water
* 3 Tbs Coconut Oil or Olive Oil
* 5 to 7 cups freshly ground Kamut, Spelt or Whole Wheat flour or a combination

Place starter, sea salt and water in the mixing bowl. Slowly advance speed to high. Beat for 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating for a full minute between each. Add oil one tablespoon at a time, again beating one minute between each addition. Reduce mixer speed to medium low and add flour 1/4 cup at a time, increasing mixer speed and beating on high for 15-20 seconds after each addition. It should take a full 5 minutes to add the flour until the dough begins to stiffen. At that point, change to the dough hook to add any remaining flour. When the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, allow to knead for 8 minutes on medium low without adding any additional flour.

Grease a large glass bowl with butter or palm kernel oil. Using your still-buttery hands, remove the dough from the mixing bowl, rub one side lightly with butter/oil. Place dough, un-greased side down, in prepared bowl and cover with light towel. Allow to rise 4 to 12 hours in warm place in the kitchen.

After dough has doubled, grease two glass or stoneware bread pans. Lightly dust counter with flour. Empty dough from bowl and cut in half. Press into a rectangle the width of your bread pan. Gently roll up (away from yourself) to create a cylinder the width of the bread pan. Place loaves in pans. Place pans in cold oven on middle shelf and cover with light cloth. Place a heat-resistant empty glass container on the oven shelf beneath the loaf pans.

Boil water on the stove and pour into the empty glass container. Close oven door and allow loaves to rise undisturbed for 2 - 3 hours. When loaves have either doubled in size or filled the loaf pans and are beginning to rise over the lip, remove the container with water from the oven. Remove the cloth. Turn on oven to 350F. Turn on timer to 45 minutes.

Bread is done when the loaf is a light brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the side or bottom. Remove loaves from oven and bread pans to cool on baking racks. Cover loaves with light towel until cool.

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