See yesterday's post to learn how to make your sourdough starter.
OK, enough jibber jabber! Let's make bread!
1 c. sourdough starter
2 c. whole milk
1/4 c. honey - I prefer raw because it's nutrients are in tact.
2 large eggs
6 c. (divided) whole wheat flour
2 tsp. sea salt - I used kosher. It's what I had.
6 TBSP. unsalted butter, room temperature
THE NIGHT BEFORE YOU MAKE BREAD
Make a sponge. Does anyone know why it's called a sponge? I certainly wouldn't eat my kitchen sponge and I sure as heck ain't going to clean with this one. What a mess that would be! Anyway, here's how you make it.
In a large bowl, mix your starter, milk and 2 cups of flour. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on counter over night.
This was my sponge in the morning, after I stirred it.
THE BIG BAKING DAY
Stir your sponge. Add eggs and honey and stir well to incorporate. Add the remaining 4 c. of flour, salt and butter and stir until it forms a mass. Dump out onto a lightly floured surface.
Knead for about 5-7 minutes, until it's smooth and elastic. I like to err on the side of a longer kneading time. Only knead it with enough flour to keep it from sticking. Also, I used damp hands for this particular bread. It worked very nicely and didn't stick at all.
Place dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with oil. Let it rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size. This will take longer than yeast risen bread, anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the conditions in your kitchen. Go give yourself a pedicure or something.
Now that your dough has doubled in size, butter two 9" x 5" loaf pans. Then, punch the dough down and dump out onto a clean work surface. Cut in half. Flatten each dough section with the heel of your hand (about the width of your pans). Next, roll the bottom 1/3 up onto itself and seal edges. Continue rolling and sealing until you have an oval log. Place in loaf pans seam side down and flatten slightly to evenly disperse in pan.
Leave them plain. Or, brush the tops with water and sprinkle on a topping like I did. I used a combo of poppy and sesame seeds. But, you could use oats, nuts, cornmeal, or any other seeds you like. Just make sure that you cover the loaves loosely and allow to double in size again - up to 2 hours. Go watch a chick flick and eat bon bons.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees when they're getting close to the right size.
Once they're ready - slash the tops of the loaves and immediately stick them in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes. You'll know they're done when they sound hollow on the bottom when tapped.
Remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.
Beautiful, Daaahling. Just beautiful.
Once the bread has cooled completely, feel free to slice and enjoy!
A PENNY FOR MY THOUGHTS:
- I don't know why I was intimidated by the process - it went off without a hitch.
- This bread has a beautiful crumb and makes a great sandwich bread.
- It actually holds together much more nicely than my multigrain bread.
- See Sarah's post on making it for a few more ideas about using this dough.
- I will DEFINITELY be making this bread more often.
- I like that I don't even have to buy yeast to make this bread.