Tips for Making Homemade Bread

When my father was young, his parents ran a bakery out of their garage. While my grandmother
did the baking, my father and grandfather would make deliveries in a horse drawn buggy.
My grandmother was an excellent baker. If one could inherit these abilities, then I would have
to say that is what I inherited from my grandmother (besides my green eyes). I love to bake and
I seem to have a natural propensity for it. The problem with that is, I eat what I bake. My specialties are sourdough breads, sourdough pizza and cinnamon rolls. Also muffins and pies. I’ve been baking with sourdough for about 35 years. Sourdough refers to the process of leavening bread by capturing wild yeasts in a batter, as opposed to using a cultured yeast, giving it a distinctive tangy or sour taste. Sourdough bread is made by using a small amount of “starter” dough which contains the yeast culture, and mixing it with new flour and water. Part of this dough is saved to use as the starter for the next batch. As long as the starter
dough is fed flour and water daily, it can be kept at room temperature indefinitely and remain usable. I don’t keep my starter over the summer because I don’t do a lot of baking in the summer. Each fall I make a fresh batch, although the pioneers kept theirs going for years and years. They would protect their starter with their lives. I don’t bake everyday so I keep it in the refrigerator and take out what I need and hour or so before baking. Sourdough bread, especially if made with a wild yeast starter, is much easier to digest. The souring process breaks down the anti-nutrients in the grains and makes all the nutrients available to the body for use. It’s much easier to digest and healthier for the body than regular bread. It is also a low GI food, like 100% whole wheat. Natural sourdough starter doesn’t use commercial yeast, which is the preferable way to make it. Some starters are made with potato. There are many recipes and information to be found on-line. For now, this is the recipe I use and have always had excellent results:

To make the starter:
2 cups of unbleached flour (you can also use wholewheat)
2 cups warm water
1 package active dry yeast

Mix together in a large glass jar. Do not use anything metal, (bowls, spoons, etc).
Loosely cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for 48 hours. It will be slightly
bubbly and have an aroma similar to beer. It is now ready to use. Take out the amount
your recipe calls for and replenish the amount you took. If you took 2 cups replace two cups.
2 cups flour, 2 cups water and a tsp sugar Mix together and set in a warm place for 24 hours.
Do this each time and you will never run out. However, if you’re not planning on using it
you should keep it in the refrigerator (covered) and take out what you need an hour ahead
of time. Always replenishing what you take.

The more you work with sourdough the more you will like it. The aroma and taste are tantalizing and hard to resist, and something your family and friends will not easily forget.

Reference:
1. 5 Tips for Making Better Sandwich Bread | The Kitchn
2. 8 Tips For Better Bread Making : The Reluctant Gourmet