Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Day in the Life: Emeryville Children's House Shares their Sourdough Bread Recipe

For the past week, the Emeryville Children's House was busy baking homemade whole wheat sourdough bread to cut and toast for croutons for the stuffing for the turkey we ate at our Thanksgiving feast. It may seem like a lot of extra steps, but it's our third year doing it, and we really enjoy it!

The children like this bread so much that they have asked us to share it with all of you.

First, we begin with sourdough starter. Our starter is over fifty years old and was started by Mrs. Williamscraig's grandmother. She gave us our starter and our bread recipe. If you don't have your own sourdough starter already, you can make it! First, you take 3/4 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water, and mix it until you have a smooth paste. Then you put it into a wide-mouthed glass jar (like a pickle jar), put saran wrap and a rubber band over the top, and let it sit out overnight.
The next day, make another paste of 1/2 cup of flour and between 1/4 cup and 1/3 cup of water, mix it until it is smooth with a wooden or plastic spoon, stir it into your jar, and re-cover. This is called "feeding" the starter.
If you feed your starter for three days in a row, you will notice lots of little bubbles beginning to form, and a mildly sour, yeasty smell. The level of starter should also be rising in the jar. On the fifth day after you began the process, your starter should be ready to use.

To make one loaf of whole wheat sourdough bread, you will need:
1 cup of water, between 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit

Taking the temperature of the water.
1 Tbsp sugar
1 packet standard yeast (not rapid-rise)
1/2 cup sourdough starter (please remember to use a plastic or pyrex measuring cup, not metal!)

Adding the starter from a glass measuring bowl.

Stir these together in a large bowl and wait 10-15 minutes. Then add:
2 1/2 c whole wheat flour (or a blend of whole wheat and unbleached bread flour)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Stirring in the flour.
Oil your hands a little and knead the dough in the bowl until smooth and elastic. The surface should look shiny if it is ready to rise. Just before you cover it, pinch out an egg-sized portion of dough and feed it to your sourdough starter. Then the starter can be covered and refrigerated. If you use a jar with a metal lid, it is good to keep a layer of plastic wrap in between the jar and the lid.

Feeding dough back into the starter. 
Cover the bowl of dough with a dish towel and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (1 1/2 - 2 hours). Then oil a loaf pan and press the dough gently into the pan.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 42 minutes.

Caring for your sourdough starter:
Starter is *almost* impossible to kill. Even if you forget about it for months in the refrigerator and a brown liquid begins to form, pouring off the liquid and feeding it for 2-3 days in a row should restore it to good health again. If you use it regularly, simply take it out of the refrigerator the night before you intend to use it, let it come to room temperature, feed it, and let sit for about an hour before using.

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