When your “weekends” fall on Mondays & Tuesdays it isn’t quite the same as a luxurious Saturday or Sunday. Mondays and Tuesdays are full of regular chores that just happen to have to get done on your days off. There is no sleeping in (the kids need to get to school) or thick Sunday editions of the New York Times (we are lucky if we read anything other than a new chapter in Katie Kazoo) but yet, at our house, Mondays and Tuesdays mean we are (finally) all together after another long week apart and that means that we take a little extra time to have a “weekendish” breakfast and homemade warm bread for dinner.
We pull our starter out of the fridge the night before. We have had our starter for well over five years. It has been frozen when we were away- left forgotten…it has even been downright neglected one summer when we left town unexpectedly and then, remarkably, each time it comes back with a little love.
To make a starter mix equal parts water & flour until the natural yeast starts bubbling. Pour half of it away and then add the same quantity of water & flour again. It will start to take on a sour odor and bubble. This isn’t a fast bread making process but there are advantages to making bread in this traditional way. You might notice a real difference in depth of flavor, mouth feel & chew but probably most critically in the digestion. Whilst we don’t really understand the science behind it, we are absolutely convinced that it is a much more natural process where enzymes have time to work on the gluten making the end product better for human consumption. What is more, our sourdough bread, while sweet tasting, has absolutely no sweeteners added whatsoever unlike all the breads available in our local market.
How great is this bottle? Pretty great if you have a Brit living in the house. We were pretty excited when we found it at Table & Vine in West Springfield, MA and we loved the graphics. It helped us decide that tonight would be a beer bread sort of night.
To make this bread (and sorry this is all in grams but we found it to be the most consistent)…
300 grams of starter
400 grams of flour (unbleached)
300 grams of Spitfire Beer
7 grams of salt
Mix all of this together in a food mixer using a dough hook adding the salt last. We like to use sea salt because it dissolves slower and therefore has less impact on the natural yeasts developing in the bread. Combine until the bread comes away from the sides of the bowl leaving clean edges.
Cover the bowl with Saran Wrap and then leave until it doubles in size. This could take four to six hours.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and stretch it pulling it over on itself and shaping into one large ball.
Divide the ball in half and reshape and place on an oiled baking tray.
Once the loaves are formed spray some Saran wrap with cooking spray and then lay it over the tops. Place the cookie sheet in a warm area and let rest until the loaves double in size.
Uncover and score the tops with a very sharp knife. Bake in a very hot oven (460 f) with a tray of water in the bottom of your oven to create some steam. Bake for about 40 minutes until a wonderful crust forms.
We were so happy with the color of this bread. The crust was just amazing. Whilst it is tempting to cut right into it…try to let it rest for at least ten minutes before slicing into it. Don’t worry….it will still be fresh and warm.
This bread was so good. The crusty outside and the soft, flavorful inside made it extra hard to save some for the next day. We tend to just put it on the table and let everyone eat it warm out of the oven with some delicious melty butter. That is the best way, isn’t it?