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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Super Simple Sourdough - with MANY Variations

Several month ago, I posted my sourdough starter recipe and a reader recently reminded me that I promised to post some sour dough recipes...but have forgotten to do that.  (blush!) So I am going to share one of my favorites with you - right off the bat (in the hopes to make amends).  :-)  We call it "Bucket Bread" we learned it from the Sourdough Course offered at gnowfglins.  (It is written in my words however.) I highly recommend their course for anyone who would like to incorporated sourdough into your lifestyle.  Sourdough can be used for so much more than crusty bread (as if that isn't enough).  Souring your dough is a healthy way for the phytates in the flour to be broken down so your body can better use the nutrients. It also eliminates the need to buy commercial yeast.  It truly is an old fashioned method that I am happy to keep alive.  But lets face it - the real reason why we stick with it is because it tastes great and once you get in the swing of it - it is easy to use!  

One of the reasons why I love this Bucket Bread is because you work with a ready made dough that can be used for many types of bread.  It is so nice to have pre-made dough on hand to make into a fresh loaf, buns, sweet rolls, bread sticks, English muffins, pita bread, pizza dough, or even crackers!  It is a busy mom's dream come true.  When you need to refill your batch, you simply mix the ingredients back together in the bucket (or cover bowl), pop it in the fridge and pull from it as needed.  This method was derived from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  They use yeast and white flours or a blend.  We use sourdough and whole wheat flours.

The dough is not a typical bread dough consistency.  It is wet, soft and sticky. Here is a great short video of the yeast version demonstrating a good consistency to look for.   I have also shared this recipe in a wonderful whole foods cookbook called For Zion's Sake Cookbook (pgs 84-85). (These instructions have been updated.) 

Sourdough Bucket Bread

When you first make this dough, the flavor is very mild, and you can bake with it right away! As it ages, the sourdough flavor increases. So keep that in mind as you use it. By the end of the week, it is much stronger dough than when it is first make. I really like this variance and love the additional variety it lends to our breads. For instance, sometimes I really like our English muffins tangy; other times, neutral and sweet :-) You can use this for sweet cinnamon rolls earlier in the week too. 

6 C pure water
3 T sea salt
13 C wheat flour (Spelt is nice too: you just need to use a little more.) 

Mix ingredients together in a large bucket, crock or bowl. (Do not use metal with sourdough.) This is a sticky, no-knead dough, sprinkle the top with flour(to keep from drying out) and cover, leaving a crack in your lid to vent. Store in the refrigerator

Refilling Your Bucket:
Simply leave 3C of dough left over in your bucket, to act as your "starter" in the recipe and add the remaining ingredients as before. (salt, flour water)  Mix well.  Repeat.  Isn't that super simple sourdough ?!!!!  Now, look at all the wonderful things you can do with it below.

To make a LOAF
1.  Prepare the oven; Preheat it to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and put a stone or baking sheet on the top or middle rack. (Make sure it is good and hot before you get your dough out.) To achieve an artisan bread texture with crispy thick crust and chewy tender center filled with nooks and crannies.  You want to follow steps a or b.  If you want a taller sandwich stile loaf follow the method in c.  You can do this one of three ways: 

a. If you have a large oven proof bowl or pot, you can put it over the top of the loaf in the oven for the first 15 minutes.  (I like to use a large stainless bowl over top my loaves; but if I am baking a large batch, it doesn't fit. This is my preferred method.)  OR you can use an oven safe dutch oven up side down or upside right with a lid.  (just make sure you preheat that as well.  This creates something like a French Bread Cloche.  (Like a mini preheated  brick oven around your bread.)  I have used my crock pot insert before.


b. You can put a casserole dish on the bottom rack with water in it while you preheat the oven and leave it in there wile you bake the bread.This gives you an artisan style crispy crust and softer center. 


c. Just preheat oven and toss your dough in a greased bread pan and bake!

2. Now, to shape the loaf; With floured hands or floured spoon, grab a junk of your cold dough in the loaf size you would like.  Put it onto floured parchment paper (for ease to put in the oven). If the dough is soft, quickly shape your loaf.  Use flour as needed.  If you want a classic artisan loaf, dust it with flour (and cornmeal if you like) and slit the top with a sharp floured knife and pop it right in the oven. If the dough is really stiff, slit the top with a sharp knife and let it rise for about 20 minutes: then bake.  For a taller softer crusted sandwich loaf follow the instructions for c.

The total baking time will vary depending on the size of your loaf.  It takes roughly 30-50 minutes. The nose knows.  When it starts to smell done, go to the oven and check.  Tap and press the center (largest) part of the loaf.  There should be very little give.

Sprinkle some cornmeal onto a clean surface.  With floured hands, grab a muffin-sized hunk out and without too much handling roll it into a ball.  (It's sticky) Flatten into a circle about 1 1/2 " thick all around on to the cornmeal surface. Pat cornmeal on the other side too.  Shape all your muffins then get your griddle nice and hot.  (I prefer cast iron.  I have to turn it down once it gets hot, or it will burn the muffins.) The muffins are cooked on a DRY griddle for 3-5 minutes on each side.  Tap the middle of the muffin.  I should not have any give, that is how you know they are done.  This part takes a little practice to get just right.  Split your muffin to see if you it is cooked though.  If it is not you may toast it open face on the griddle to finish it off.  We love these with eggs and make great QUICK sandwich "buns" in the hotter months.

Preheat oven to a HOT 500 degrees Fahrenheit with the baking sheet in the oven. With floured hands, tear off a small hunk of dough put it on floured parchment paper - on a cookie sheet if possible.  (This helps the transfer into the oven.)  Pat the pita down to a 1/4 inch , leaving it a little thicker around the edges like a pizza crust. Repeat for as many pitas as you would like to make.  Let rest 5-10 minutes.  Carry the tray over to the oven and slide the parchment off onto the preheated sheet in the oven.  Bake 5-10 minutes until it puffs.  Remove tray from the oven and let pitas cool on a rack.  (They will deflate.) Cut in halve and peek in the center to see the wonderful pocket you have created!  Enjoy!

Preheat oven to a HOT 500 degrees  with the baking sheet in the oven. With floured hands, tear off a small hunk of dough put it on floured parchment paper - on a cookie sheet if possible.  (This helps the transfer into the oven.)  With very floured hands or rolling pin - Pat the crackers down as thinly and evenly as possibly.  You may do this in one big cracker and score it - or you may make like of individually shaped crackers, its your choice. Repeat for as many  crackers as you would like to make. Season your crackers with salt or any finely ground herb mixture you like.  I like to pat the seasonings in gently.  Let rest 5-10 minutes.  Carry the tray over to the oven and slide the parchment off onto the preheated sheet in the oven.  Bake 12-15 minutes until crisp.  Remove tray from the oven and let crackers cool on a rack. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit with pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven as it heats.  Grab the desired amount of dough out of the bucket with floured hands.  Put cornmeal or flour on the a sheet of parchment paper placed on another baking sheet. Pat your crust to your desired thickness. Top with you favorite sauce, cheese and toppings. Bake about 15 minutes until golden.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a muffin tin with butter or coconut oil. You may dust cups with flour or cornmeal if desired, but not necessary   With floured hands, grab roll sized hunks of dough.  Gingerly roll into a ball and drop each one into a muffin cup.  Bake for about 12 minutes until golden.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and follow the directions above in the loaf bread instructions, but just shaping it into small buns or logs.  Bake 10-12 minutes until golden.  (You may try brushing your bread sticks with garlic butter and topping with grated Parmesan cheese!) 

For the mildest sweet rolls make them within 24 hours of refilling your bucket.  Just flatten you breads sticks slightly.  Spread with soft butter and sprinkle with Rapadura  (or sugar of choice) and cinnamon. Roll into a spiral wheel and put on a preheated tray or in a muffin tin like the rolls methods listed above. Follow the temperature and times for either method. 

Once you have played with it a few times and you get comfortable with it - try to remember the recipe:  6,3,3,13.  How old-school is that??!!  

P.S.  If you are serious about adopting this method and you would like to get a handy dough rising bucket - this is where I got mine .  It is rather big and takes up a good bit of space in the fridge.  It is nice because you can see your dough through it at a glance.  However, you could use a 2 gallon plastic bucket or any plastic, glass or ceramic container that you can cover.  If you have an empty nest and don't use much bread, you can easily cut this recipe in half and do it that way. 


Sarah said...

Thank you so much for posting this. So quickly too. I didn't expect that at all. Question... so if I choose to use this for a tall sandwich type bread ( method c ) in a loaf pan you don't have to let this rise at all? It looks like you only have to let it rise if the dough is 'really stiff'??

Sarah said...

So I don't have to do step 2 at all if I am doing 'c'? Seriously just throw it in the pan and bake? No rise?

MommySetFree said...

It is true! :-) IT is that simple! The dough is so wet you really want to pop it from the fridge to the HOT oven immediately. This helps it spring (rise) in the oven. If the softer wet dough is left out and warmed, it will kind of glob into a flatter wheel, which is still fine and tasty for dipping into soup mind you! But may not be what you are looking for in most applications.

If the dough is thick and stiff, and holds it's shape more like a traditional "knead and rise dough" - letting rise is best. IF you don't, it will be a bit too dense and heavy. (It may sit in your tummy like a rock too.) This shows that the phytates have not sufficiently been broken down and that is what the rising process helps do. It can handle being warmed up in its rising time and still hold it's shape in the oven.

Heidi Cooper said...

I think it's time to start a new batch of sourdough!

Moira said...

Shalom shalom,
This is a great recipe Pamela, I got it from the HaYovel Cookbook :) I have used it a few times now and we really enjoy the English Muffins :)

Sarah said...

Hi it's me again. I have a ? about the 13 cups of flour that are added to this and then put into the fridge to store...based on the conditions needed for flour to soak for 12+ hours (ie: warmth/room temp) can I have this sit out on the counter for 12+ hours prior to putting it in the fridge?

MommySetFree said...

Yes! That would be ideal!

Sarah said...

So...my starter has been alive for a week now and I made my bucket this morning. I did 1/2 of it. So 1 and 1/2 c. starter, 6 and 1/2 c flour, 3 c h20, and 1 and 1/2 salt. Mixed all the ingredients but it's immediately dense and heavy like regular yeast bread and not wet at all. Can I add more water? I used 100% whole wheat. The starter was wet and soft and sticky but adding the ingredients to make the bucket made it dense and heavy. So I know after I let it sit out for 24 hours until tomorrow and then make my dough I will have to let it rise based on your advice but I am wondering what could have happened.

MommySetFree said...

Isn't so exciting to see your starter bubbling?!

It sounds like you are on the right track. It might be a matter of your idea of wet -vs- my idea of wet...so lets see if I can describe it a little better - to see that might help you see how your dough is:

When is say wet, i don't mean like a batter...more like a sticky glop. You can dig into it, and it will be elastic, but sticky and gloppy. If you pulled a hunk out and set it on the counter, it would NOT hold it's form - it would sort of blob or bleed out and sag in a few minutes time (or even on contact). How does that compare to your dough?

If your dough does hold its shape without or it is not sticky...you may want to add a little water or rise before putting it in the oven.

Was your flour fresh ground or store bought? I always fresh grind mine and this tends to make a fluffier flour. If you dig into a store bought bag with a measuring cup, it will be a different weight of flour in the end and thee result of a loaf will be different. (This why professional bakers use weights instead of measurements. It ensures consistency in the product.)

If you are up to a little kitchen science - here is another thought: You could do a quick "tester". Butter one muffin cup of a muffin pan and follow the instructions for the dinner rolls. See how it turns out. If it is too dense - try rising a little roll's worth or add some water to a roll's worth of dough . Or you could run an experiment with all three of those in the same bake time and pan as long as you remember which is which :-) This will definitely help you figure out what you need. Then once you get the "feel" for your dough...modify it if need be and you can duplicate that each week, just by eye ballin' it! :-)

Exploring and experimenting is the best way we learn and truly own what we learn. It will result in some failures along the way..every good scientist has plenty of those!! But it's worth the success in the end. :-)

Please keep me posted as to what you do and how this unfolds...I'm on the edge my seat. :-)

Sarah said...

You are so wonderful to take your time to help me. I appreciate that. My first thought with 'experimenting' was that I don't like reinventing the wheel. If you've figured it out then I don't want to experiment. Well that was the outcome anyway. Your description was perfect and my dough was exactly as you described. So I just pulled it out of the oven. I didn't know how much of the dough to use. I'm used to breads doubling after rising so when you said it will 'spring rise in the oven' I didn't know how much it would do that. So I used the normal amount I would use for a yeast bread to double. So it rose a little but it's a little over half the size of sandwich bread. So that was an experiment :) Now this leads to two more questions...I am so in the box kinda gal. I follow recipes; I don't create them. I hate creating. Again...don't reinvent the wheel mentality for me. Especially when on a budget. I don't like the idea of wasting all that precious dough($$-money dough) Ha ha Pun intended. How much dough do I put in the bread pan? All the way to the top of the bread pan? Past the top so that it's at the height of a loaf of bread? Also, there is dough left over. Is this considered my starter now. Although I do have 3c of the original starter in the fridge. Do I recreate my bucket with simply this extra dough as my starter or do I use my original starter to add to this bucket of dough? Did I explain that correctly?

Sarah said...

It's soooo heavy and I didn't cook it long enough either. Tastes good though!!! Kids love the flavor.

Sarah said...

I didn't think it was considered thick and stiff but perhaps it was sense it turned out dense and heavy. Do I place it on a surface and work with it and shape it and rolls the ends under like you do yeast bread? You are gonna get tired of me. Pray for me :)

MommySetFree said...

This dough should not "shape" into anything for you. That is why you need to kind grab a hunk and tuck it best you can and toss it in. :-)

It will not rise like a yeast bread, but when you get it right - you should have a hard thick crust, a tender chewy center with nooks and crannies like an artisan bread you would get at Panera. But it doean;t give you nice square slices fro sandwiches. A loaf pan will give you a taller bigger slice though.

You could fill the pan 2/3 full.

It is a heavier loaf, but is shouldn't sit your tummy like a rock and those nooks and crannies will be evidence if you had the "spring" you should have. If they are not present..like you said the flavor is there...but it will be hard on the tummy and the texture is not something you want to serve guests. :-) I can still get that spring without raising it before it goes in the fridge.

Did you use a bowl over top?

It can be kind of tricky too, when it is done because of the hard crust...but that comes with experience. That can create heavy doughy centers too. (AKA ROCKS - That still taste goog.)

I guess I take after my step father in how I do things: Two if His favorite sayings were - "No guts no glory!" and "No pain no gain!". With sour dough..it just seems we have to find that sweet spot.

It is said that SD is unique every where because it collects its own local yeasts to develope. It can be made most anywhere - but different places have their characteristics...so that might have a factor in things too. NOT SURE. Just some thoughts. My guess it is mostly just being willing to fine tune things if need be. I have had my fair share of failures with it!!! But the successes have come to be far more now and the reward we all think is worth it. I think each momma needs to make that call. I am from San Francisco (lived there 10 years any way)..I LOVE sour dough...I was motivated! :-)