If you want to save a lot of money and eat healthier, try baking your own bread. I bake all of our bread, rolls, hamburger buns and even hot dog buns and I don’t use a bread machine either. The main reason I make my own bread products is that I am able to make a better quality bread using such ingredients as whole wheat, flax seed and other whole grains. The problem for me with bread making was in the timing of the rising, shaping and baking of the bread. Now, I could overcome this with using a bread oven, but I have never had much luck with bread machines. I would rather use my own hands to knead the bread and shape it.
Recently I was given some sourdough starter and I have discovered that sourdough bread is the answer to fitting bread making into my busy schedule. The timing from stirring to rising to baking is perfect because it takes a long time. It is easy to fit this into anyone’s schedule.
Sourdough bread takes longer to rise and in many cases the dough will need to rise all day. You can easily mix it up and knead it in the morning, plop the dough into an oiled bowl and let it rise all day. Then when you come home from work you simply plop the dough out onto an oiled surface, shape into loaves and let it go through the final rising and bake.
I love the whole process as it fits into my schedule and I can provide my family with a wholesome bread. I can mix it up and knead the dough in the morning and go about whatever I have planned for the day whether it is laundry, working a few hours at my library job or even being gone out of town for the day.
If you have never tried this, give it a try. You will never go back to the normal bread recipes after trying this out. The wheat bread is delicious and so much better for you because you know what goes into the recipe. No more reading bread labels and wondering what all those funny ingredients are.
2 cups flour
2 cups water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pkg. dry yeast
Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup of the water. Whisk together the remaining warm water, flour and sugar. Add the yeast mixture to this. Cover with a cheese cloth. Keep this mixture on your counter in a warm spot for at least 3 days. This is to begin the fermentation process which you will notice by bubbles forming in the mixture. It will rise and have a yeasty sour aroma. The liquid may separate. Stir this mixture three times a day. After three days, store your starter in the refrigerator and make sure you cover it. I pour mine into a one quart Mason jar and put a lid on it. You will need to feed and use your starter at least every 10 days. I usually use it every week when I bake bread.
Basic Wheat Sourdough Bread
The night before you plan on baking bread, you need to feed your starter. Pour the entire contents of the Mason jar into a glass bowl. To this starter mixture add ½ cup sugar, 1 cup warm water and 1 ½ cups good quality white flour. Stir well and cover with a kitchen towel and let stand in a warm place until morning, around 8 hours. Wash the Mason jar and lid.
In the morning, divide the starter. Pour 1 ½ cups of the starter back into the Mason jar to use the next time. Cover and store in the refrigerator. To the remainder of the mixture that is in the bowl add:
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups warm water
½ cup vegetable oil
5 cups flour (white or whole wheat or a mixture of the two)
Stir the sugar, salt, water and oil into the mixture. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, mixing as you go. Continue until you can’t stir it. Then place the dough on a well floured table and start to knead it. I try to knead it for around 10 minutes. Then put the dough into an oiled bowl and let it sit until it reaches the top or doubles in size. Depending on the temperature in your house this could take all day or 4 to 5 hours. After it has risen, take the dough out of the bowl and put it an oiled surface. Divide the dough into the size loaves you want. I make mine into two loaves that I bake in well greased loaf pans. Let the loaves rise. This could take 2 hours or more. Bake the loaves at 350 degrees for around 30 minutes.
Variations: You can add some flax seed to this along with other seeds or grains of your choosing.
I keep one loaf out for our immediate use and freeze the other loaf. You can use this recipe for rolls too.