Yesterday was Thanksgiving. We happened to have some very good, very moist leftover stuffing, but not enough for both of us to have it again today, so I used it to make bread for sandwiches. Since I’m still curious what makes “milk bread” have it’s unique texture and crust. It’s not the milk, so perhaps it’s using some precooked flour (in this case the croutons in the stuffing.) I may be onto something here – this bread does have the soft crust and delightful texture of milk bread. It’s got the same oven spring. Yet it tastes completely different. There are so many herbs and spices in it, that it would never work for dinner rolls and, traditionally all milk bread is made as some type of dinner roll. But it makes fantastic sandwich bread.
How many loaves this makes depends on how much stuffing you start with.
1 part stuffing (made from store bought croutons) 1 part freshly fed sourdough starter
Mix well (all of the stuffing should be well coated) and let it work overnight. (We always add some minced onion, minced celery, some raisins, and brown sugar to our stuffing, and let the turkey provide all the liquid.)
Put 2 tablespoons of butter in the freezer to harden.
The next day add 1 Cup warm water to the starter mix, stir well, and set aside.
In the bowl of your stand mixer combine:
3 cups bread flour (hard flour) Read the stuffing packaging to see what herbs and spices to add — add about 1 teaspoon of each herb or spice listed. Instead of salt, add 1 teaspoon Vegeta. Stir the dry ingredients together.
Use a cheese slicer (or potato peeler) to get thin sheets of your frozen butter, and cut (or pinch) it into the dry ingredients until it looks like fine cornmeal.
Add the starter mixture to the flour mixture and stir. This is where things get a bit tricky since the moisture content of both the stuffing and the sourdough starter can vary greatly. If your dough is sticky, add more flour, about 1/4 C at a time. If your dough won’t form a breakable ball, add more water, about 1 tablespoon at a time. I always mix my dough by hand when I’m not sure of the measurements. The goal is a dough that’s a tiny bit dry, and not in the least bit sticky – but all the flour is used up. You should be able to roll the dough into a breakable ball that easily kneads back together. When you think the dough is ready, let it rest for 15 minutes.
If, after a 15 minute rest (while you lightly oil the bowl you’ll use to let the dough rise,) the dough still isn’t sticky, it’s time to put it in your stand mixer. Knead in your stand mixer (or bread machine, or by hand) until your dough can pass the window pane test – about 10 minutes. (If you’ve ever wondered why I don’t make my own videos, it’s because I only have one arm that works, so I do things a tad differently than most people.) The dough still isn’t sticky.
Roll into a ball, and place it in your lightly oiled bowl, turning it over a few times to coat with the oil. Cover it tightly and place it in a warm, moist place to rise until doubled in size. (About an hour.)
Punch it down (it’s still not sticky.) and knead lightly on a clean, dry, hard surface. (If you started with a lot of stuffing, you may have to divide the dough in half.) Then make a rectangle, where the small side is slightly less than the width of your bread pan(s), and roll it up tightly, being careful to keep the roll the same width as your bread pan(s.)
Shaping the dough, first as a rectangle ….
And then rolling it up!
Lightly oil your bread pan(s) and place the shaped dough in the pan. Allow to rise until dough is even with the height of the pan.
Slash the dough deeply (my slashing skills need work.) and bake in a 350° F for 30 – 40 minutes or until bread tests done.
For the best texture for sandwiches, allow to cool before cutting.
Those of you who know me, know I always want to know why. Why is “milk” bread so different? Why is it so incredibly soft? Why does have so much “oven spring”? Why does it “fight back” when I try to shape it? What on earth makes this bread so special!
Since it’s called “Milk Bread” I assumed it was the cooked gruel made with milk and flour. So I went back to the original recipes. None of those called for Barley Malt, so I eliminated that. Only some called for an egg, so I eliminated that. I’ve always known that bread can be made with almost any liquid, as long as the proportions remain about 5 parts flour to 3 parts liquid, one ends up with bread — a little salt, some kind of yeast, and some type of fat or oil as preservative and the rest is just technique…
The other night I had a craving for my favorite dessert: Serbian Plum Dumplings, though I make mine with apricots, since plums often bother my bowel. At this time of year I can’t get fresh apricots, so I used apricots canned in light syrup. I had two apricots left over (actually 4 half apricots, since my husband hadn’t found any whole ones,) along with some of the syrup in which they came. I like apricots… Even light syrup has some sugar in it. Fruit has some sugar in it. Sugar “feeds” yeast so, being the thrifty sort (mostly out of necessity) I decided to make some “milk bread” using my leftover apricots instead of milk. To be honest, I didn’t expect it to work, so I didn’t take pictures. I expected to end up with bread — just bread that didn’t have the feel or the texture of “milk bread.” I also expected my bread would have a slight taste of apricots. I was wrong on all counts. This is definitely “milk bread” – the crust and texture are unmistakable. The only difference I noticed was how fast the bread dough rose (I would guess due to the sugar in the fruit and syrup.) The dough “fought back” just as hard, making it difficult to push, pull, and pat it into an oblong. The dough was just as dry, not in the least bit sticky. So it’s not the milk that makes “Milk Bread” unique…
Apricot “Milk” Bread (makes 1 large loaf)
In a small saucepan, combine:
2 small canned apricots with syrup well pureed,enough water so you have a total of 110 grams liquid and 45 grams bread flour. (Hard flour if you’re European)
Stir this until it is very smooth – no lumps allowed! Then heat it over very low heat until it’s the consistency halfway between soup and very light gravy. (It will thicken a bit as it cools.) This time I didn’t overcook it! It was definitely the color of apricots and only slightly thicker than the apricot puree. When you can comfortably put your finger into the mixture without thinking “ouch!” add:
135 grams of very active sourdough starter and again, stir until smooth and completely combined. (It was barely orange colored after adding the sourdough) Set this mixture aside while you measure and mix the dry ingredients.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, or bread maker, measure 300 grams of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt into your mixing bowl, then cut in 2 Tablespoons of butter – just as you would if you were making pie dough. If your butter is cold enough you can also “pinch” it to combine the butter with the flour to make a mixture that looks like cornmeal. It should not stick to your hands, or feel sticky. (If it does, put it into the refrigerator and let it cool., then lightly pinch it with your fingers until it’s not sticky.)
Combine the liquid yeast mixture with the dry ingredients until you can form a breakable ball. At first this seems like an utterly impossible task. There seems to be far too much flour. The dough gets too flakey, even once you start using your fingers instead of a spoon, but do not use your power mixer yet! Knead it, press it, rub the sides of the bowl until every speck of flour is attached to the ball of dough. (Remember, technique is everything when making bread!) If you can pick up the ball of dough yet a flake or two of dough still falls off, add 1 tablespoon of water and mix well. This dough is not sticky. It’s dry. Nothing should be sticking to the sides of the bowl, nothing sticks to your hands, yet you should be able to break the ball of dough in half, and knead it back together if you use a lot of pressure.
Now but the bowl into the power mixer with a bread hook, or your bread machine. Start at the lowest speed for 5 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes. (Or you’ll probably overheat your power mixer, but it also gives the dough a “rest.”) Then let the machine knead the dough at least another 5 minutes, or until a small amount of the kneaded dough stretches easily without breaking. Meanwhile, very lightly oil a bowl large enough for the dough to almost double in size.
Form a ball of the kneaded dough. It still isn’t at all sticky, and there should be no trace of loose flour anywhere. Put it in your lightly oiled bowl, in a warm place, and allow it to rise for at least two hours. I was very surprised that this time it did almost double in size, though it’s still a very compact ball of dough, impossible to “punch down” the way I usually literally punch my fist into the middle of the risen dough. Instead I pressed it down into the bowl, then took it out of the bowl and, holding one end, slammed it down as hard as I could on the counter. This dough is not sticky at all! I couldn’t even get it to stick to the dry, unfloured, unoiled countertop! Eventually I was able to pound it, press it, and stretch it into an oblong shape, where the short end was the same length as my bread pan. I kept stretch, pressing, pounding, and pulling until I had an oblong about 5 cm thick, in an oblong that was three or four times as long as it was wide. (The original recipes all said to use a rolling pin to roll it into this shape – but that would have required my husband’s help, and he wasn’t available.) Then, starting at one of the short ends, one rolls it up pressing it together as tightly as possible. This is easier said than done, since this dough doesn’t even stick to itself! Plus one has to keep pressing in the edge so it stays as wide as the bread pan…
Lightly oil the bread pan, and place the roll, seam side down, in the pan. Cover it tightly, and let it rise until the dough is marginally higher than the bread pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F . Slash the top deeply with a sharp knife, and bake for 25- 35 minutes or until the bread tests done. I didn’t use any egg wash on top this time, which made the crust a lot lighter.
Even though it’s made with pureed apricots, there’s absolutely no taste of apricot (though I thought I could smell a slight apricot oder, no one else could.) And one of the nice things about “milk” bread is cutting it right away, and smother it with real butter to eat it hot out of the oven. So that’s what we did.
Very similar to Asian Milk Bread, this isn’t your typical sourdough. Slightly flaky and somewhat sweet, it can be eaten hot from the oven, which is nice, since it goes stale in 24 hours. Use the stale bread to make homemade “Panko” bread crumbs.
When I’m sick, I often use sourdough to make my own living “probiotics.” Sourdough, being fermented with my own wild yeasts, always has lots of “probiotics” even plain, but I usually follow my grandmother’s “remedy” for the family gut problems and make a very thick milk gruel, toss in enough barley malt syrup to make it taste edible, stir in some of my sourdough starter, and let that mess bubble on my counter — eating a tablespoon or two every day. Of course my grandmother had never heard of “probiotics,” but that’s what it is and adding the cooked milk mixture simply increases the lactulose bacilli that’s already in the sourdough starter. Live barley malt syrup (the type used to make beer) has another type of “probiotic” bacilli in it, also naturally occurring in sourdough starter. Combining the milk gruel, barley malt, and sourdough just shifts the percentages of the various “probiotics” that already occur in a living colony of wild yeasts. I don’t usually think about such things. To me it’s always just been “Grandma’s homemade gut medicine” and in the 1950’s and 1960’s several doctors tried very hard to convince me it was a worthless folk remedy. So I quit telling them (or anyone else) about it, accepted their steroids, and used Grandma’s home remedy anyway. I never thought about it in terms of making bread…. (At the time I’d get frozen “ice cubes” of gut remedy directly from Grandma. Probiotic bacteria can withstand freezing without problem, but it can’t survive the high temperatures of cooking.)
When searching the internet for some bread recipe I could translate into sourdough for this post I was rather shocked when I saw Milk Bread (both Chinese and Japanese) start by making the same “gruel” of flour and milk contained in Grandma’s gut medicine. And I usually like bread that contains dry milk or barley malt syrup. I use both ingredients regularly.
I was deep in the organic chemistry book, checking things out, when my husband asked why I wanted him to use Panko bread crumbs on the skinned chicken breasts he planned to fry for dinner. What makes Panko bread crumbs different? So I looked them up. They’re made from Japanese milk bread minus the crusts!
So that settled the question of what type of bread I’m making. It’s
Stir until all the lumps are worked out, then heat on the stovetop, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken. (It will become much thicker as it cools, so don’t overcook.) Immediately add 1 Tablespoon Barley Malt syrup and keep stirring until mixture is a thick paste and barely warm,
then add 135 grams of very active sourdough starter. Stir until smooth. Add 1 very large egg, and stir until smooth. It should now be about the consistency of thick cake batter. Set saucepan of liquids aside for at least 30 minutes.
Measure 300 grams of flour and 1 teaspoon of salt into your mixing bowl, then cut in 2 Tablespoons of butter – just as you would if you were making pie dough.
Pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture and mix until fully combined. This is much easier said than done, but, yes, all of the flour mixture can, eventually be worked in if you use your fingers. It’s a flaky broken mess at first, but eventually you can make a dry, breakable ball and all the flour is gone. This dough is not sticky at all.
Knead very well. (It took more than 10 minutes in my stand mixer (after it finally formed the breakable ball) to become smooth and silky. It’s still not sticky.
Put in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly and let it rise until almost doubled in size.
To shape the dough:
Cover the bread pan with plastic wrap, or put the bread pan in a tightly closed plastic bag. Put the well wrapped pan in the refrigerator overnight or until the bread has barely risen to the top of the bread pan. Remove from the refrigerator and let it return to room temperature. (Don’t worry if it looks a little flat – there’s going to be a lot of oven spring!)
Preheat the oven to 400°F , lightly brush the top of the bread with egg wash, put the bread in the oven, and immediately lower the temperature to 375°F. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bread is golden brown and the bottom, when tapped sounds hollow. Internal temperature of the bread, as measured by a probe thermometer should be 195°F.
Cut and eat as soon as the bread is cool enough to handle comfortably.
Note: To make Panko style bread crumbs, wait for the bread to become stale enough to grate, peel away the crust, and grate onto a large flat pan. Spread the crumbs out and bake in a 200°F oven until completely dry. (Don’t let them get brown!) Or don’t bake, and just let them dry out.
I recently spent several days in the hospital. I came home weak, exhausted, and very depressed only to discover my sourdough starter was mostly alcohol. Yet sourdough bread is one of the few things I can eat when I’m feeling really bad — as long as I keep it very simple.
Reactivating a colony of sourdough starter in extremely hot humid weather was my first challenge. The wild yeasts and bacteria that make real sourdough work best in weather that is normal wherever you live. Remember, wild yeast is very geo-specific, that’s why it is worth the time to attract and maintain your own colony of sourdough; it will always work better than sourdough made somewhere else, and is much easier to digest than any bread made with storebought yeasts. I like to keep no more than 1/4 to 1/2 inch of alcohol on top of my starter to protect it against mold, but when I came home I had at least 3 inches of dark brown alcohol on top of the colony. I poured off all but a sheen of alcohol, cleaned my crock, added some bread flour and water as usual. Fortunately a good colony of sourdough starter is very hard to kill! I had to repeat the cleaning three or four times before I had some very active sourdough starter to with which to work.
My mouth hurts so much I didn’t want a crusty bread, but I did want a moist good tasting bread that would be very, very easy to digest. So no oil (other than to oil the pans,) no egg, no milk, no herbs. To keep it moist it has to be a very soft dough. The flavor comes from a very, very long rising time — in the refrigerator since it’s so incredibly hot outside.
Simple Bread (makes 1 small sandwich loaf)
Combine in the bowl of your stand mixer or bread machine:
250 grams bread flour (“hard” flour in Europe) 150 grams water 2 teaspoons salt 1/4 cup sourdough starter
Mix by hand, or on the lowest setting until all of the flour is dampened. Then let the machine do the kneading for at least 10 minutes, until the dough is very soft, sticky, and smooth.
Meanwhile, lightly oil a medium sized bowl that will fit in your refrigerator. Using a scraper, or a lightly oiled hand, transfer the kneaded bread into the bowl, and tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Let it rise in the refrigerator for 24 to 36 hours. It will double in size (or even get a little higher than that!)
Very lightly oil a small sandwich size bread pan. Flour your counter (or wherever you’ll shape the dough) and your hands. Use as much flour as necessary to handle the dough.
Do not “punch down” the dough! Instead use a scraper, or your lightly floured hand to gently move the dough to the counter. Keeping as much of the air in the dough as you can, shape the dough to into an oblong that will easily fit in the bread pan. It will look far too small for the pan.
Since there’s another long rise, put the entire bread pan in a plastic grocery store bag, and seal the bag with a twist tie. Alternatively, you could cover the whole pan with a huge bowl — anything you can think of that will keep all the moisture inside, yet still fit in your refrigerator. Let it rise until it has a “dome” on the top — 6 to 8 hours. (This is where I made my big mistake — I went to bed rather than keeping an eye on the bread. Yeast will only rise until it’s exhausted, and then it falls flat, leaving the spent yeast and unused flour on top of the bread, turning it pure white.)
Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 35-40 minutes. Bread is done when a probe thermometer registers 190-200° F.
I know I read about it somewhere else — adding pickle juice to rye bread, but I didn’t save it because I couldn’t imagine it’s taste. Then, several weeks ago, my husband brought home the “wrong” Reuben Sandwich. On Pumpernickel, served with a huge dill pickle that wasn’t properly wrapped. Pickle juice saturated the bottom piece of bread. It turned out to be one of the best Reuben Sandwiches I’ve ever had, even though it was too soggy… So, here is Sourdough Pumpernickel with Pickle Juice and Black Pepper.
Makes 1 loaf
Combine in a large bowl:
1/2 Cup mixed rolled grains (If you don’t have mixed grains available, just use old fashioned, slow cooking oatmeal.)
2 Cups boiling water 2 Tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon gluten (if you don’t have gluten available, use only 1 Cup of dark rye AKA Pumpernickel and 2 cups of whole wheat) 1/4 cup powdered milk (optional) 1/2 cup sourdough starter 2 tablespoons dill pickle brine (liquid leftover from a jar of dill pickles)
I cup whole wheat flour (unless you did not add gluten, in which case, add 2 cups of whole wheat.)
2 cups (approximately) dark rye flour AKA pumpernickel (unless you didnot add gluten, in which case, add only 1 cup dark rye flour.)
Stir very well, until a soft, smooth dough forms. “Knead” it a few times using the stretch and turn method. Cover tightly and let it sit for at least 2 hours. It will rise, but probably won’t double in size.
Knead in up to another 1 cup of dark rye flour and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper. (It may take a little more or a little less flour, depending on the humidity and the water content of your flour.) You want it to just kiss your hand. (In a stand mixer or bread machine, knead it for no more than 10 minutes total.)
Shape it into a ball and let it rise and spread until double in size. (about 2 hours)
Preheat your oven to 400° F. Slash , and bake for 20 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350° F and bake until done — about another 30 minutes.
Depending on the amount of whole wheat bread flour you add on the second day, this makes anything from a no knead light airy bread, to a soft chewy kneaded bread, to a kneaded, softly crusted, freeform bread. This recipe doesn’t work well if you started your “sourdough starter” with any type of store bought yeast. It relies on the beneficial bacilli (the “probiotics”) that is part of a wild yeast colony.
Before I get to the recipe, let me explain what I’ve been doing since I last posted. I have a friend who’s really into science. She’s worked both as theoretical physicist and an experimental physicist and knows more about molecular chemistry than I will ever know. When she finally got married, as a joke (knowing she really didn’t know how to cook,) her colleagues gave her a “cookbook” that doesn’t have a single recipe in it. What it does have is 818 pages on the molecular chemistry of the foods we eat, with an emphasis on the way the USA “processes” it’s basic foods, such as meats, grains, fats and vegetables. If it’s part of the “normal” process, it doesn’t appear on the label; and “organic” certainly doesn’t mean what I thought it meant!
When it comes to food, I thought “organic” meant, of or relating to foodstuff grown or raised without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides or hormones. But, chemically, “organic” means: relating or belonging to the class of chemical compounds having a carbon basis — or, basically, every living thing (or once living thing) you can find in or on the earth. Unfortunately “synthetic” also has several meanings, including: involving or of the nature of synthesis (combining separate elements to form a coherent whole) as opposed to analysis. Please notice that it’s combining separate elements, notseparating previously combined elements. I think everyone knows that one can separate water into pure hydrogen and pure oxygen using an electrical current, but how many people realize that the “Clean Air Act Amendments” have resulted in removing so much naturally occurring sulfur from the air that farmers (including organic farmers) now have to add sulfur to their soil? And what is the cheapest way to obtain calcium and sulfur? Through what is called “beneficial reuse programs.” Without using euphemisms, the “pollutants” captured by coal powered plants are separated out to sulfur, calcium, and a very high quality “synthetic gypsum.” The sulfur and calcium go on farmers fields, while the “synthetic gypsum” is used to make wall board for your house. Instead of pesticides, “organic” farmers use oils. What we currently call “organic farming” is not “sustainable farming” (I suspect you’ll hear more and more about “sustainable farming” in the next few years.) What does all this mean in terms of bread? Buying “organic” store bought flour can (in the USA), may contain several chemicals that are banned in almost every other country in the world. Once I knew what to look for, it wasn’t hard to find lots of confirmation on the internet. Here’s one site that is very easy to understand, and explains the problems very well.
Just in case you don’t want to read the whole article, here’s the basic list:
Azodicarbonamide (banned in Singapore, the EU and Australia)
Potassium bromate (banned in the EU, Canada, China, Nigeria, Brazil, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Peru and more)
Calcium bromate (banned in the EU and Canada)
Nitrogen dioxide (banned in the EU and Australia)
(And yet people think it’s the gluten in flour that’s making them sick… Since these are all part of the processing of flours, they don’t have to appear on the list of ingredients.) So how does one avoid these nasty chemicals? By knowing why such chemicals are used — to make flour white in color, to preserve the flour, to enrich the flour, and to “fluff” the flour so it’s easier to use. So… Never buy store-bought bread. Never buy anything other than “whole wheat” (or “whole grain”) flour. And never buy “enriched” flours. I don’t think I’ll ever buy flour in our local grocery store again. (Our local health food store is another story – as long as I read the labels very carefully.)
Beware of flour that is simply marked “Whole Grain.” “Whole Grain” doesn’t necessarily mean it is free of the deadly additives listed above.
If I need to buy flours via mail, I go to Bob’s Red Mill – which is also available in many of the larger grocery stores. Bob’s Red Mill has a blog and recipes that I’ve found to be very precise and (as far as I can tell) accurate.
What does all this have to do with the following recipe? This started not so much as a recipe as an experiment. If I was reading the “cookbook” full of molecular chemistry correctly, the bacilli that lives in a symbiotic relationship with wet flour are largely killed off if the flour has any of the 8 bad ingredients listed above. If all the bacilli are there, in enough quantity, the actual molecules found in whole grains and fats are changed slightly. making the bread much easier to digest. (Both the bacilli and the yeast are killed off when the bread bakes, so the changes have to occur before baking.) Rolled (or pressed) grains are as close to whole grains as one can obtain easily at this time of year, and once re-hydrated, they are pretty easy to see, and everyone knows melted sweet cream butter rises to the top of most liquids… So….
This recipe makes 3 to 8 loaves depending on the amount of flour added later.
Stir constantly until the water is no longer too warm to touch, being certain all of the rolled grains are well moistened and starting to swell. You don’t want any of the grains to clump together if you can help it. (BTW, following the instructions on the label, this makes an utterly fantastic hot breakfast cereal!)
While the mixture is still warm, add:
1 cup whole wheat bread flour
1 cup very active, well stirred (so the bubbles disappear) starter
Front of the jar
See the ingredients?
1 tablespoon Barley Malt Syrup
Continue stirring until the mixture looks like this:
Then cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit, undisturbed, for 24 hours. At first the butter or oil will rise to the top, but those beneficial bacilli will take care of that. There will be a few slight color changes as other beneficial bacilli get to work on the various grains and the yeasts start to take over.
24 hours later the mixture looks like this:
But does it still make good bread? YES!
Stir in (or use an electric mixer):
2 cups of the 7-grain mix
2 cups of the whole wheat bread flour
The dough will still be much to wet to use, but it’s obviously dough and not a liquid.
Let it rest for 20 minutes. This gives the rolled grains a chance to expand a bit, adding much more flavor to the finished product.
Stir in, using a wooden spoon, 1 cup of bread flour at a time. When no more flour can be stirred in without kneading the dough, you can divide the dough into 2 or 3 parts, and put it in well oiled bread pans to rise before baking. It will only rise to the top of the pan, and the finished bread will be very airy and light.
I prefer a good firm bread, that’s a bit chewy, so I kept kneading in bread flour, using as much flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking. 8 Cups of bread flour later, I was exhausted and was running out of room to knead. I shaped one normal size loaf, put it in a well oiled bread pan to rise, and divided the rest of the dough into two pound packets that I put in the freezer to finish some other day.
Forget everything I’ve ever said about whole wheat breads! Cook some rice (any type of rice except “wild rice” – which isn’t really a grain at all. It’s a nut.) And put it in a blender until it’s just rather dry mush, and let’s start making some whole wheat bread!
My pastor loaned me the most marvelous book, A History of English Bread and Yeast Cookery, by Elizabeth Davis. It’s a real history – she sites her sources! And there aren’t recipes such as most people are used to following (though there are a few, mostly post 1800.) But the information in the book is (for me, at least) a total joy, and I simply couldn’t wait to try some out some of my new found knowledge. I hardly know where to start. I mean, there are over 100 ways to “make” yeast… But that will take time. But my frustration with whole wheat breads is over. It was just one paragraph. Basically, potatoes and “pease” fail as a leaven helpers because of the amount of fiber already in the flour but rice works very well. So, of course, I had to try it!
This recipe make 2 dinner size loaves.
24 hours before you intend to bake, feed your sourdough starter 1 cup flour and 1 cup water. Stir until smooth and leave the crock on the counter overnight.
Cook enough rice to make about 2 cups of tasty rice, with nothing added to the rice (except, of course, water.) Then mash your rice. I mashed my rice with a potato masher, but a blender would work much better. (Unfortunately, my blender, like my electric mixer, requires my husband’s help to get out of the cupboard.) Hopefully you end up with 1 full cup of mashed rice. Drain off any excess water.
Combine and stir until very smooth:
1 cup cooked rice, well mashed 2 cups whole wheat flour 1 cup warm whole milk 1 cup warm water 1 cup sourdough starter 4 tablespoons sweet cream butter 3 tablespoons honey 2 teaspoons salt
At this point you have a mixture that is similar to cake batter. Set it aside, covered, in a warm place, for one hour, stirring occasionally. (This was when I realized I hadn’t mashed my rice as well as I should have, since bits of rice kept floating to the top.)
Start by adding 2 more cups of whole wheat flour, then add 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour at a time until your dough is stiff enough to knead. The amount of flour will vary. I used almost 5 cups. Once I started kneading, I could feel the difference between this bread and other whole wheat breads right away. Kneading in less than 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, the dough was barely sticky. Within another 5 minutes of kneading, and less than a few tablespoons of flour, it felt the same as a bread made with white flour – soft, very elastic, pliable and barely kissing my hand as I kneaded.
Put it in a well oiled bowl, cover the bowl tightly, and let it rise. It took almost 3 hours rise in my rather cold kitchen.
Punch the dough down, knead it very briefly, divide it in half and put it in well oiled bread pans to rise again. Again, it needs to be covered while it rises, but this time it took about an hour to fully double in size.
Put a pan full of water in the bottom of your oven, and preheat the oven to 400° F.When the oven is full of steam, the oven is hot enough. Slash the bread, and bake it for about 35-45 minutes, or until the bread tests done. I didn’t brush the top of my bread with anything — clearly this was the wrong thing to do — but, hey, I’m still learning! (After baking, I did coat the top crust with butter. The crust was thin and tender, so I didn’t do so bad.)