When I run out of an ingredient or a supply my first thought isn’t necessarily, “Gotta hop in the car and go to the store.” It’s, “Can I make this myself out of stuff lying around the house?” Although I consider myself environmentally conscious, it isn’t a particularly eco-minded or righteous impulse. I just hate having to go to the store when I am in project mode.
Recently I ran out of yeast. And it wasn’t the first time. I’d rather not be dependent on those pricey little hard-to-open packets anyway. Flour is expensive enough. Time to go sourdough. Again.
Several years ago someone brought THE BEST bread to a family reunion. I don’t even know who it was, some third or fourth cousin or another, but bless him. He shared the recipe and at least one other relative and I made it for years. The bread has the best, soft moist texture and flavor–soft enough for sandwiches and perfect for toast, too. I got out of the habit for some reason, but it is time to liberate myself from the yeast packet and RESURRECT THE STARTER:
FORGOTTEN COUSIN SOURDOUGH BREAD
To start: Double the feed ingredients and let sit at room temperature several days until bubbly and smells fermented. Stir occasionally.
Feed ingredients (remember to double them for the first time!):
2/3 cup sugar
3 T. potato flakes
1 1/3 cup water
Stir feed into original container of starter. Leave both containers of starter out all day. Stir original and replace in refrigerator for 3-5 days before feeding. (If not baking throw away or give to a friend 1 cup before feeding). Can feed a couple of times without removing any if trying to build a starter. In a large bowl make a stiff batter of 1 1/3 cup starter which has set out all day, plus:
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
1 tsp. salt
1 2/3 cup warm water
7 c. bread flour or 5 c. bread flour plus 2 c. whole wheat flour
Oil a large bowl, add dough and oil top, cover lightly and let stand overnight. Do not refrigerate.
Next a.m., punch dough down. Divide into 3 parts. Knead briefly. Put into 3 greased loaf pans. Oil tops. Cover with greased waxed paper. Let rise most of the day, depending on temperature. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Remove immediately from pans, butter tops, cool on wire rack.
I have used 100% whole wheat, 1/2 whole wheat, and other variations with success. For cinnamon raisin bread, just before the final rising, flatten out one portion of dough into a rectangle about twice the size of the bottom of your loaf pan and top with about 1/4 cup raisins and sprinkle with cinnamon or cinnamon sugar. Roll up into loaf form, put in the pan and let rise and bake as above.
I have never tried to make the starter with whole wheat flour, but I am sure it can be done.