Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bread

I've taken to baking bread lately. Spouse lost his job yesterday, so we're looking into budgeting better and the bread would be a good way to economize. It *would* be if we didn't eat all of it in one sitting!

The first batch I made started with a sponge made with commercial yeast, but I kept some back to feed to have a starter around regularly. It' had a bit more commercial yeast put in, but mainly it's running wild now. The starter, plus slow risings is giving wonderful results and tonight's bread was the best so far. I made them in a three loaf baguette pan, but the oven was to steamy to get a really crisp crust.

Baguettes, of a sort
1 cup starter
1 cup warm water
1 cup flour
Mix and let sit over night
In the morning, add:
1 cup warm water, into which has been dissolved sugar cube and 1/2 T salt
3 cups flour (more if needed)

Mix to form a ball and kneed until it starts to feel elastic. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise 2-3 hours. Knock down and let rise again for 2 hours.

Kneed out air bubbles, divide dough into three lumps. Form loaves by pressing dough into a flat oblong, less than the length of the bread pan. Begin on one long side and tightly roll dough into a big snake-like thing. Place on greased baguette pan and repeat with remaining two bits of dough. Cover and let rise for an hour.

Preheat oven to 475 (F) and place a pan of water on lowest rack. Once oven is heated, slash tops of loaves three or four times and spray with water. Place bread in oven for 20-25 minutes. After bread is done, turn off oven and let bread sit for further 5 minutes.

I should add that whenever you take out some starter, you need to feed it again to grow more yeast beasties. When I take out a cup, I add anther cup of flour and a cup of water. I still have some commercial yeast (I buy bulk bags o it's not premeasured), so might add a light sprinkle (maybe 1/2 t) to help boot production if I've been making bread often. When I used to do this back in the early '90s, I had about a half gallon of starter in the fridge so never needed to do more than feed it. I've not gotten to that point yet, but hope to work up to it.

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