Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Saturday, November 5, 2016

And your recipe is ...?

I have the (annoying?) habit of posting on Facebook each Sunday a photograph of the bread I have made that day. (I've baked on Sundays for decades.) I customarily make one round loaf and one "traditional" loaf, though I sometimes have the freezer so stuffed with these that I will make muffins or rolls or whatever instead. (My grandson Logan, 11, has always loved my bread, and I have no problem off-loading a few on him!).

Anyway, there are FB friends who routinely "like" the bread-pix--though there are probably far more who are annoyed by yet another picture of food on Facebook. (Food and kids and memes compose about 90% of the things I see on FB.)

Sometimes, I will get a request for my recipe, but it's kind of hard to share because it's not something I rigidly follow; I experiment all the time. Also--and this is key--I am not a professional baker. I'm an amateur who began decades ago because making bread was cheaper than buying it. I'm still learning. I still fail.

But--these caveats aside--here's a rough sequence of what I do each weekend ...

  • On Saturday night, about 9:15ish, I feed my sourdough starter. I have written here numerous times about that starter. It just turned 30 years old this fading recent summer, and I, over the years, have mixed into it all sorts of flours that "meant" something to me--flour from Garrettsville (where my mother taught), from Lanterman's Mill in Youngstown (one of my great-grandfathers was a Lanterman in the area), and so on. I have a double batch of it in the fridge all week (thus, the two loaves on the weekend). Anyway, I "feed" the starter with (about) three cups of flour, two of warm water--enough to make a thick paste. Cover and let sit on a rack in the kitchen all night.
  • About 7:15 on Sunday morning I go downstairs; I put two cups of the starter (which grows impressively in the night) back in its container, which I put back in the fridge. The rest I will now bake with.
  • I transfer the starter to an electric mixer and start adding stuff (in this order) as the mixer goes on its lowest speed:
    • 1 cup of warm milk (I use skim--have used soy)
    • 1/4 cup of melted butter (I use soy these days)
    • 1/4 of local honey
    • 2 tsp sea salt
    • I start adding, in small amounts, the dozen or so different types of flour I put in the mix, including (I ain't gonna go look and count--too lazy):
      • flax seed meal
      • oat
      • soy
      • millet
      • whole wheat
      • brown rice
      • quinoa
      • teff
      • cornmeal (!)
      • barley
      • graham
      • amaranth
      • semolina
      • spelt
      • kamut
    • When the dough is nice and pasty, I increase the speed of the mixer (not high--just a little higher) and let it mix for 7 minutes (don't ask; I don't know why).
    • After 7 minutes, I put it back on the lowest speed, then add 1/4 cup of flax seeds--actual seeds, not the flour.
    • I slowly add whole wheat flour (by the way, most of these flours are from Bob's Red Mill) until the dough starts to form a ball on the mixer blade; I then replace that blade with a dough hook and gradually add white organic flour until there's a good ball of dough that has cleaned the bowl pretty well.
    • I stop the mixer. Toss the ball out onto a floured board (organic white flour) and knead the hell out of it until it's no longer sticky.
    • I pop the flour in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with Saran Wrap, put on a rack, and let rise until doubled--time varies from 2-3 hours; be patient. Ambient temperature and humidity affect the rate of the rise.
    • When it's doubled, I take it out, plop it back onto the board and cut it into two pieces--one is about 2/3 of the total (for the round loaf), the other about 1/3 (for the "regular").
    • I have a variety of bread pans I use; doesn't really matter.
    • I cover it again for, oh, about 1.5 hours (can be less or more--heat, humidity, etc.).
    • Depending on the devices (some call for higher temps), I preheat to 350F, and when the buzzer tells me it's time, I slice the tops with a very sharp knife (I sharpen it every week).
    • Pop both loaves in the oven; the smaller is done in about 40 minutes; the other, about 45.
    • Out it comes!
    • After it cools, I keep it (bagged) in the fridge (slices better). Always freeze some, too.
I've done all this so much I never look at a recipe. Nothing's really exact except the initial ingredients (milk, butter, honey, salt). Just play around until you find a taste you like.

Below is a picture from a couple of weeks ago. I used a crockery bowl for the larger loaf, a tempered glass bread pan for the smaller.

No comments:

Post a Comment