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A loaf of sourdough bread begins about 18 hours BEFORE the bread is baked. You won’t need to be in the kitchen the entire time. Rather, you’ll need to remind yourself to schedule a few breaks in your day to give the dough some attention. This post is not a detailed recipe but an overview of the tasks and the order in which they are performed to produce sourdough bread.

While learning, it is a good idea to bake only one loaf at a time so that any failures will not deplete your supplies. Initially, baking one loaf per day will give enough practice to perfect your technique and adjust your recipe to your preferences. Your family will greatly enjoy the aroma of a fresh baked loaf each day. Loaves that you do not wish to serve can be repurposed into salad croutons or crumbs for birds.

Make a note of rising times, ratio of water to flour and the resulting taste when you adjust the measurements of your ingredients. When the written instructions are memorized, you will be ready to increase your recipe to produce more loaves with each batch of dough.

You will need an acidic liquid (I prefer Kefir) and freshly ground whole wheat flour. Add the liquid to your flour and mix well with a fork. The mixture may appear somewhat dry. Allow it to soak overnight.

In the morning, add a portion of your sourdough starter to your soaked flour along with honey, sea salt and olive oil. Knead the dough until elastic.

When finished, place the dough in a greased bowl. I use a lidded casserole dish for this rather than covering with plastic wrap which can stick to the dough. Put your dough into the bowl upside down and turn it to rub the sides of the dish. Turn the dough over and set it bottom side down. This oils the surface of your dough and keeps it from drying, forming a skin and binding your dough during the rising process. Cover with the greased lid of the casserole dish.

Turn your oven on for 1 minute and then turn it off. This will briefly warm the oven and allow you to set your container of dough into this insulated warm box to rise. Allow the dough to rise 4 to 5 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Gently punch down and knead the dough. This second kneading moves the yeast to a new area in the dough, allowing it to have access to new food, raising the dough a second time.

Shape the dough and place into (or onto) a greased baking container. This will be either a bread pan, baking pan, or baker’s stone. Gently brush the top of your loaf with oil.

Allow the dough to rise in a briefly warmed oven (as described above) for ½ the time that was needed for the first rise.

Remove the dough from the oven. Place a small cake pan on the lowest shelf of your oven. Heat a kettle of water to boil on your stove while you preheat the oven. When the water boils, pour it into the small pan in the oven. Shut the door and allow the oven to preheat for ten minutes. When ready, quickly place your bread pan of dough into the oven and shut the door.

In about 45 minutes, your bread will be ready. Check for doneness by tapping onto the bottom of the pan with an oven mitt. The bread is ready when this thump produces a hollow sound. Turn the pan over onto your gloved hand and allow the loaf to fall out. Turn your bread pan upside down and let your loaf rest on top of the pan. Coat the hot loaf with butter to allow the crust to be a softer, chewy consistency instead of thick, crunchy and hard.

Allow the loaf to cool before slicing. Use a serrated-edged knife for ease of slicing. A handy way to speed the cooling of your bread is to remove the loaf from the pan and allow it to cool while standing on end. My husband saw this one day while passing through the kitchen and remarked, "Stonehenge?" Lol


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