My home made starter is coming along nicely. It has gotten larger through several uses and it is beginning to get a very mild sour flavor. In fact, I’m always surprised at how mild it is because the starter itself smells like grain alcohol. I am able to make two loaves at a time with the amount of sponge the starter creates and they are coming out divinely.
The most recent experiment was such a success I thought I should post it here. Unfortunately I didn’t measure out the starter before making the sponge so I can’t provide measurements for that. But basically I add 1 cup each of water and flour to the starter. I usually let my sponge sit for 4 – 6 hours to gain the desired consistency. Be sure to save the remaining sponge! Add equal parts flour and water to it (I use 1 c each at this point) then mix and store. This is your starter for next time.
Molasses Whole Wheat Bread:
3 cups sponge
5 – 6 TBSP melted butter
1 TBS salt
1/4 c molasses
3 TBS honey
4 c flour
Now, for the flour, I tend to like a ratio of 2:1, unbleached white to whole wheat. However you can use whatever ratio you are comfortable with. For the above recipe I used 2 1/2 c unbleached local organic white flour and 1 1/2 c whole wheat.
Mix the butter, salt, molasses and honey into the sponge, then add the flour a cup at a time, mixing completely each time. The last cup or so usually requires hand mixing for me, but if you have a machine with a bread hook, you could use that for the whole process.
Once everything is combined, I like to kneed the bread for a few minutes on a counter-top. I find this gives my loaves a nice glutenous consistency which I personally really like. However, this step is unnecessary if the dough is well mixed enough.
Let the entire batch of dough rise for about 1 – 1.5 hours or until it has doubled. Then you can split it and separate in to two loaves, and let it rise again for 45 min – hour. I like to make a round loaf and a conventional loaf each. The conventional loaf is used in our house for sandwiches and the round loaf is just for good eats.
Bake the loaves at 350 for 35-40 minutes and let cool before slicing. Store is a plastic bag to keep the bread from getting too stale. Home made bread can become rock hard without proper storage.