go here now if you’re at all into bread baking.
this morning’s bread came out of the oven smelling heavenly. if anything, it’s even better than the last loaf. this kind of sourdough baking is so easy (really -- the only reason I was up at ridiculous o’clock because I felt like waking up). it bakes in like 40 minutes, which is about how long it usually takes me to get ready for work. I no longer measure when baking this stuff and it’s working so far, knock wood. my current recipe/formula/whatever: in the evening, I pour about a cup of my sourdough starter into my bread machine (because I’m too lazy to knead, even though it barely needs to be kneaded), after which I refresh it to its original amount with a ratio of about 1:3 flour to water (whatever works out to be the consistency of pancake batter), cover it and leave it out overnight to do its thing. to the bread machine, I add roughly the same amount of water, and then about 3 cups of flour (last night’s combo was the remainder of my King Arthur bread flour, all-purpose flour and semolina flour -- it ended up being just over a cup of each), and some kosher salt (over a teaspoon, less than two). for kicks this time, I added some butter because I like the way it tastes in this particular bread, but it all depends on my mood whether I add olive oil, butter, or neither. okay, then I let it knead for a few minutes. I’ve learned that the gluten primarily develops during in the resting (after the flour and water are combined; the process is called “autolyse”). I take the barely kneaded dough out of the machine (super-gloppy dough makes the best bread; it’s just not much fun to handle) and sort of loosely shape it however I want. I spent maybe 2 minutes on this. last night, I put the dough into two buttered loaf pans, covered ’em w/saran wrap and stuck ’em in the gas oven w/just the pilot light on to proof overnight. I woke up to lovely, 3/4-risen loaves. one of the other tricks I’ve learned is to not over-proof -- at least the last 1/4 to 1/2 of the rising happens in the baking, a.k.a. oven spring. I pre-heated the oven to somewhere between 375 and 400 (it was early, and bread is SO forgiving) and baked ’em. while they baked, I made my french toast with the last of the bread I had left from the other day, plus some cream (why go half-way? I have NO restraint and am just lucky I don’t gain weight) and eggs, cooked in butter (arteries are hardening just from reading this, no doubt).