Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sourdough Bread Tips

Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't call this blog the "Sourdough Blog" since a huge majority of my posts seem to have sourdough in them!  That is my life right now though, my sourdough starter is always out on the counter and it gets used almost every single day.  We have 6 people in our family, plus additional workers who eat some meals with us, so I am feeding at least 7 if not 10 people at every meal.  I make two loaves of homemade bread about every other day.  Other days I am  making sourdough pancakes, sourdough crackers, sourdough muffins, sourdough biscuits, sourdough desserts, etc*.  My husband really has noticed a difference in the eczema he has had on his fingers and skin problems with his feet.  He thinks he is sensitive to gluten and sourdough reduces the effect.

If you are making sourdough bread I want to share with you a few tips that may make it a little easier for you.  Start out with my favorite & go-to bread recipe, which you can see on this post here.

*I always include at least 6 hours of "souring" time even if the recipe does not instruct you to do so.  This is the minimum time needed to allow the sourdough starter to do it's job working on the flour.

  • Did you know that eggs are a natural dough conditioner?  I always add an egg now to my sourdough bread recipe.  I like it not only for the little bit of added nutrition, but also because it helps condition the dough.
  • What's the easiest way to slice a loaf of bread?  Upside down!  First, always allow your loaf to cool completely before slicing.  (Ahem, although I must admit that one of my favorite treats is to cut the end piece off of the still very warm loaf & drag it through some butter.  Mmmm, warm sourdough bread & butter- I love it!)  Next, make sure you use a long serrated knife made for slicing bread (trust me).  When you flip the loaf over you are slicing through the softer side & ending at the crust; instead of trying to force the knife through the crust & smashing your loaf in the process.  Just flip it!
  • Ever run out of time to make sourdough?  Making true sourdough bread requires some advance planning since it takes at least 8 hours.  I know that if I don't get my dough started by 2pm that I'm going to be up late at night waiting to bake it, cool it, store it.  You have a couple of options here.  #1 is to add a tiny bit of commercial yeast to your dough, like 1/2 teaspoon, to speed up the rise.  I do not prefer this option, so let me suggest instead option #2.  Skip the first rise of your bread & put your dough directly into greased loaf pans.  Sometimes there still isn't enough time, so what I will do is make my dough right before bed and let it rise in the loaf pans while I'm sleeping.  When I get up in the morning I go right to preheat the oven & then bake the bread while I'm getting ready & making breakfast.  This has worked well for me, if you're kitchen is cooler than mine, or you want a longer rise time, then you'll need to plan accordingly.  Try it out & have some fresh baked bread with your morning eggs!
  • How do you keep the bread from sticking to the pan?  Always keep your butter wrappers!  After I use a cube of butter I fold up the wrapper & put it back in the refrigerator.  Next time I need to grease a pan I wipe that wrapper all over the pan & it works great.  I have been using my stainless steel pans & I love them.  When I grease them with butter the loaves just fall right out.  Have you thrown out your non-stick pans yet?  The toxins in non-stick cookware should motivate you to have a goal of replacing any non-stick coated pans as you are able.
Those are some tips I wanted to share with you today.  Do you have any great bread tips you want to share with us?

Keep on baking!

1 comment:

  1. I just found your blog and have been enjoying all the sourdough recipes!! I love my sourdough starter, too! My husband often jokes that I should rename my blog to put sourdough in the title, haha. In fact, a few friends and I have started a fun new group to find new and creative ways in which to use our starters! We would love for you to come and join us!


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