This post is by Eat With Me contributor Eve!
I’ve been on a bit of a bread roll (HA! sorry, that was cheap.) as of late, mainly inspired by a book that was given to me, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. It’s a pretty spectacularly comprehensive book, for anyone out there who’s looking to start baking bread at home. It can, however, at times be a bit too comprehensive, to the point of exhausting. Which is why I turn, as I often do, back to the blogosphere (to the detriment of the printed word, unfortunately). Web content is just so accessible and amorphous in a way that can be beneficial to the cook with a curious, rambling mind.
But let’s stay on topic here: I’m making bread! And it’s such fun! My most recent favorite blog for these endeavors has been Wild Yeast. And for supplies and further recipe research, the King Arthur Flour website is indispensable.
At first I aspired to make sourdough bread using only wild leavening – meaning, instead of prepackaged yeast, I would use a starter built up from just flour and water, left to ferment and “bloom” over a series of days and weeks. I’m proud to say that I’ve built a rather ripe and potent starter over the past few weeks, and encourage you to do so as well. How does one do that, you may ask? The short answer is: mix 1 part flour to 1 part filtered water in a wide-mouth jar, let it sit out at room temp until bubbles form, and BLAM-O, you’ve got a starter. The long answer can be found here.
Here’s a glimpse at what a maturing starter looks like:
After the first frustrating attempts to make a delicious, springy sandwich loaf using my starter, I had a Eureka! moment and realized that a combination of wild and commercial yeast would serve me best. Luckily, I found a fabulous recipe that fit the bill on the King Arthur Flour site, which is my new go-to when I need to satisfy my Daily Sandwich Requirement (DSR). I made a few changes to the original recipe, but the gist remains the same.
* Note: If your dough isn’t rising nicely and it’s making you really sad, don’t dismay, just improvise! I turned some wussy looking dough into nice little seeded flatbreads, see? Just remember, your first loaf won’t be your best loaf – and may not even be a loaf at all!