Learning to bake bread

Sour dough bread can be daunting. I have found it to be easy after a few tries, once you get down the basics.

My homestead role-model, sister-in-law, recently gave me some sourdough starter.  I have never really been a bread baker.  I usually work from a box where you add an egg and or some oil and water stir, pour, and bake – boom – brownies.  But my sister believed in me and was very encouraging.  It was also very helpful that she walked me through it at her house.  But hands down the best was that she let me take photos of the steps and she also made a whole Pintrest board for me of bread baking and other fun gardening tips.

Key point with sourdough is that you feed it, like a small monster that you keep in a jar in your fridge. I do try to feed my starter once a week.  I also try to bake about once a week.  Our neighbors just recently took in two small nieces who needed a home.  So their family went from their happy four to a very busy loving family of six. So I have started baking bread a bit more frequently, and pass a few loaves across the street. Honestly I am doing something baking related every day.  If I am not scrubbing the loaf pans,  I am feeding the starter.  Today I took an hour to mix up two types of bread to let rise all night long.  Tomorrow I will bake the bread. Then the process starts all over again.  Its great fun to make and to give away.

I prepared two types of bread this evening.  A sweet gingerbread and a cheesy herb bread.  I use the same amount as my recipe says for one loaf of bread, but it makes about two nice sized loaves for us. The basic sourdough recipe that my husband found for me is very easy to manipulate in order to try different types or to make smaller or several loaves as needed.

Step 1 is always to clear and scrub down the counter.

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I am planning on sharing some of the bread tomorrow so I got out my regular loaf baking dish for the herb and cheese bread, and two mini loaf baking dishes for the sweet breads.

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I have tried to use Parchment paper to bake bread but it just hasn’t baked as fluffy as when I let it rise in the baking dish for 12 to 20 hours and then bake it.  I spray my baking dishes with generic baking spray for now.  Once I run out of the baking spray i might just grease the pans using my coconut oil.  I am working on taking the original recipe and only altering one tiny thing at a time. I do not want to mess up the bread.

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Next I mix up my starter and then I scoop out 3/4 cups of starter and added 1 1/4 cups of warm water.

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The recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups of flour, I have found I use around 5 cups.

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So I start to add flour and stir.  And stir and stir and stir in some more flour.  Until its a bit thicker.  My sister-in-law uses a Kitchen Aid mixer.  And while it mixes up the dough she works on other things.  I use a fork because I am cheap, we do not have a Kitchen Aid mixer and we also do not have kids that make us multitask every moment of every second.

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I scooped out a cup of the mix and put it in my other mixing bowl. The sweet bread mix then gets a pinch of salt and a big scoop of brown sugar.

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Then two dashes of gingerbread spice.  Also I prep the counter with a small handful of flour.

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This is the gingerbread spice that I use.

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When all mixed together it smells nice.

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I then added flour and stirred until it was dough.

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With flour on the counter, kneading the dough is not hard to do.  There are the chef’s and bakers on TV that will show you a special way to do it.  No one is watching you and the bread doesn’t know any better if you do it perfect or not.  Basically I squish the dough around on the counter until it doesn’t really stick to the counter anymore.  I need you to know that kneading is only difficult if you make it difficult.

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I divided the ball of far less sticky sweet sourdough bread into two and popped them into the two mini loaf pans.

Next I move on to the original mix, the herb and cheese bread. I added 1 dried sage leaf from my garden.  Crushed up a lot, but shown here it is whole.

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A little bit of garlic salt mix, takes care of the salt part as well as the dried garlic.  I have done this type of bread before and I have used measuring spoons.  But this is also a very accurate way of measuring.

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We use a lot of oregano in our house, it is one of the favorites of the spouse.

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My dried Rosemary leaves are much larger than what is shown here.  I enjoy the flavor of rosemary but not a whole lot so I crush up the rosemary leaves.

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And now it is time for the cheese!  Yes in the bowl if you look closely is about 1/3 of a cup of grated Parmesan and Romano.  As well as about 3/4 of a cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  These cheeses are the types we have on hand the most and that is why they go in the mix.

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This is a picture of the very sticky dough.  Too tough to mix with a fork any more but too sticky to let it rise so onto the floured countertop for some kneading.

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In their dishes.  I will cover with a dish towel and let them rise for 12 to 20 hours.  I will not take them out to knead them a second time for them to rise again.  I do not have time for that.  I let them rise a lot and then bake them.  I have found the more they rise the softer and fluffier the bread.  The first time I made bread I only let it rise 6 hours. It was a very dense bread. I have found I make the dough one day, and the next day I bake.

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This was a 12 hour rise time.  What I like to look for are the holes in the dough through the sides of the glass dish – this way I know it will be lighter and fluffy.

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I forgot to take a photo of the baked bread before it mostly got eaten.

So instead I will leave you with a photo of the t-rex head and teeth that the husband is in the process of 3D printing.

RickabaughReviews approves of preservative free bread and also dinosaurs.

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Author: jeanetelouise

I see many project ideas online and I want to try them all. Watch, laugh and learn along with me.

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