I almost don't have the energy to type this.
My fingers are sore. My elbows are sore. My shoulders are sore. Let's just say, it's all sore.
After church and family time, I spent the hours while Georgia was napping outside. The sun was out and even though it was brisk, the smell of fresh air and soil drew me out of my stale home. And so, I decided to tackle that mound of wood chips and get to work mulching the gardens.
I didn't finish, but I got close. And even though I'm sore at the moment, the physical release of hard work felt good and the mental boost of accomplishing something so exciting will carry me off into the week.
All that to say, our Sunday dinner will likely consist of bread, eggs, and yogurt. Cause this Momma is tired.
And all that to say, I've found the bread recipe. The one I will now bake twice per week. The one that will likely replace all other breads, for the time being. You see, as spring comes close and we spend more time out in the gardens, my experimental baking takes a break. So I was ready to not only find a traditionally fermented bread, but also one that I could consistently make brainlessly.
I didn't want to think about it. Or stress about it. Or worry about how it may turn out. I just wanted the bread to be here.
I can't even remember where I ran across this recipe, and even though it's not all whole wheat flour, it works for us. It serves as a wonderful breakfast bread alongside eggs, is crusty enough to dip into delicious soups, and makes wonderful grilled sandwiches. Truly, an all-purpose bread rich with natural yeast and fermented goodness.
And I'm sorry for the lack of pictures, but such is life.
Artisan Sourdough Loaf
You will need:
– 1 cup of active sourdough starter (learn to make your own HERE)
– 3 cups of water, room temperature
– 6 cups of flour (I use 3 cups unbleached white bread flour and 3 cups freshly ground organic whole wheat flour, though you can use any combination of these you like. I currently have a loaf raising that is 4 cups whole wheat and 2 cups bread flour…we'll see how it does!)
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 1/4 teaspoon yeast, optional (for colder days, I use
a teeny teeny pinch of yeast, just to help the dough along, though if your kitchen is warm, I'd omit this)
Step One: Combine the starter and two cups of the water. Stir to combine.
Step Two: Add in three cups of the flour and the optional yeast. Stir to combine.
Step Three: Add in the last cup of water, three more cups of flour, and the salt. Stir to combine.
Step Four: Cover with plastic or foil and allow to ferment and rise for 12-15 hours in a warm place. I usually just mix it up the night before, so the majority of the rising takes place overnight.
Step Five: After the initial rising period, sprinkle the top of the dough with few pinches of flour. Dip your hands in the flour bin and begin to slowly fold the dough over itself, using a nice sweeping motion with your hand. This can get a little goopy – that's okay! Just keep folding it over itself for about a minute or so, until the dough has become nice and elastic, adding a bit more flour if need be.
Step Six: Cover the dough again, place it in a buttered (or greased) bowl and allow it to rest for another 2-4 hours.
Step Seven: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Another important step in baking this bread is the preheating of your bakeware. You will need to use a piece of bakeware that is oven safe and has a lid – this will create a steam container of sorts for the first part of the baking. I use a cast iron dutch oven that has a lid, which creates a nice and round loaf. Just stick this into your oven while it preheats.
Side note: To keep the bread from sticking, I cut a round piece of parchment paper to lay on the bottom of the pan. It works like a charm.
Step Eight: When the oven is ready, carefully remove your dutch oven. Throw in your parchment paper or sprinkle some corn meal on the bottom of the pan to prevent the dough from sticking. Scrape the dough into the pan – don't worry about it being lumpy or being smooth on top – it'll work itself out. The dough will still be sticky and elastic – that's okay.
Step Nine: Bake the bread, with the lid on, for thirty minutes. Then, remove the lid, and bake for another fifteen minutes to brown the top. Forty-five minutes baking, total.
Did you know I was so competent at math?
Step Ten: After the baking period, I scrap the side of the pan with a knife, flip over the dutch oven and shake the bread out. I've had much better results removing the bread since using the parchment round on the bottom, so if I were you, I'd give that a shot.
And there she is. A delicious loaf of crusty sourdough bread. Not quite as ‘sour' as you may imagine – it's divine with pear butter or jelly.
I feel I'm entering a season of simplicity in our home. I've been ravaging through closets, under beds, and even through my undie drawer to rid myself of all excess ‘stuff.' With a stack of bags for the Goodwill and a few hidden spaces still to tackle, I'm really beginning to enjoy the spring cleaning. With so much on our plate at the moment, I need things to be manageable, simplified, and organized. Even with regards to bread. I've designated Mondays and Thursdays as ‘bread days', meaning I spent a small bit of time baking this loaf to provide us with bread for the entire week.
I know this bread may sound overwhelming, but trust me, it's not. Total active time is about 10 minutes. Seriously. A few minutes to whip it together the night before and a few minutes to mix it again in the morning. Bake it at lunch time and you'll be enjoying fresh, simple bread before you know it.
Which is perfect for a night like tonight, where bread, eggs, and yogurt are the only thing on the dinner menu because I'm so dang tired from yard work.
I may need reinforcement.
For other great meal ideas, no matter what your dietary restrictions, check out the meal planning service I use: Real Plans.