“Never Fail” Sourdough Bread

(… well, it almost never fails…) Not the typical recipe, but it’s easy to mix, easy to knead and the resulting loaf always tastes sweet and good.  It’s “typical” in one important way: it starts with very active, rather liquid sourdough starter. But, of course, “failure” depends on your expectations… If you’re looking for the “perfect” loaf the very first time you make bread you’ll probably “fail” no matter what type of yeast you use. But if you’ll be happy with bread that smells as good as it tastes — without a lot of “if’s” and “but’s” in the recipe — this bread is for you!

Makes 1 large loaf

  1. In a large bowl mix together

 3/4 cup milk

1 and 1/2 cups very active starter That’s a lot of starter!

2. Measure into a sifter that’s sitting on a plate (so you don’t get flour all over.)

2 cups flour

You'll be adding flour gradually and the sifter is a good place to hold measured flour.
You’ll be adding flour gradually and the sifter is a good place to hold measured flour.

3) Sift about 1/4 of the flour on top of the milk and starter. You will be adding flour very, very slowly, and stirring it in, so don’t add more than 1/4 of the flour in the sifter! And stir it in until the  flour is absorbed.

There is so much dough already there, add only part of the flour that's measured in your sifter.
There is so much dough already there, add only part of the flour that’s measured in your sifter. This recipe takes a lot of stirring!

When that flour is completely mixed in, add more flour on top.. Stir that in until it’s absorbed. It will become more and more difficult to stir and fold in the flour. As it becomes more difficult, use less flour each time. You want to get as much of these 2 cups of flour absorbed — a little bit at a time — until

A sticky ball of flour has formed. (I had a few tablespoons of flour left in my sifter so I mixed that in after I took the picture.)
A sticky ball of flour has formed. (I had a few tablespoons of flour left in my sifter so I mixed that in after I took the picture.)

4) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise for one hour.  It probably won’t double in size.  It will puff up and spread out. Or it may double or triple in size…  No matter what it does, just let it sit there, covered, for one full hour.

5)  About 10 minutes before your hour is up mix together in a small bowl

Mix in the small bowl
Mix in the small bowl

3 eggs

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon salt (sea salt if you have it)

Mix until the egg yolks are a bit lighter in color and the egg whites don’t form globs on top.

6) Measure another 3 cups of flour into the sifter.

7) By now your hour should be up.  Pour the liquid in the small bowl  on top of the dough in the big bowl and sift about 1 cup (1/3 of what’s in the sifter) of flour on top of that.  And stir.  It takes a lot of stirring to get this mixed into the dough you already have!!

All the liquid is now in the bowl, more flour has been added - time to STIR!
All the liquid is now in the bowl, more flour has been added – time to STIR!

 Keep adding the flour in your sifter a little at a time until you run out of flour OR you can comfortably hold the ball of dough in your hand.

It’s time to knead the bread.  There are lots of excellent YouTube videos that will teach you to knead.  This is one of my favorites:  How to Knead Bread (used without permission.)

Or, for those who don’t like YouTube AllRecipes teaches how to knead dough.

Or just Google “How do I knead bread?”  (My favorite game is “Ask The Cell Phone.”  My cellphone  has voice recognition, so I don’t even have to type!)

8)  Get the counter ready for kneading by lightly sprinkling some flour on it OR spread a very, very light coating of olive oil on it.  Don’t do both.  (I use flour if my dough feels wet. I use oil if the dough is shaggy and dry.)

9) Using the spoon or your hands, scrape the dough onto the prepared surface.

10) Knead until smooth.  (It feels a bit like someone’s bottom when it’s well kneaded.  Smooth, soft and firm all at once.)

11) Shape the dough to fit your lightly greased loaf pan.  (You can also shape it into a ball and bake it on a lightly greased cookie sheet. If you decide to make a traditional round loaf, remember it’s going to spread as well as rise.  )  You Tube video: Shaping bread for a loaf pan. (Used without permission again…  Me Bad!)

12) Once the dough is in the pan, lightly cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it rise for  2 hours!

Preheat your oven to 390° F.  It takes my oven almost 30 minutes to get this hot.

Bake for 40 minutes or until bread tests done.  Bread tests done when it sounds hollow on both the top and the bottom.  Or when a probe thermometer reads an internal temperature of 190° F.  If, at 40 minutes, you’re still unsure, take it out of the loaf pan, turn it on it’s side on a cookie sheet and turn off the oven.  With the oven turned off, put the cookie sheet holding the bread back into the oven until the oven cools.

My loaf didn’t come out “perfectly” either — but it sure tastes good!

Not perfect... But good to eat!
Not perfect… But good to eat!

Happy Eating!

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