Kneading and baking bread is a holy experience. I have a habit of listening to my favorite podcasts, music, or poetry reading while I mix, knead, and bake my weekly bread, that in itself is a holy rhythm, a liturgy if you will. I’m making a few extra loaves this week to bring to friends and stocking the freezer with pre-made goodies to enjoy during the week, like cinnamon rolls and english muffins. My starter died when we went out of town for a few days and I completely forget to feed it and stash it in the fridge. Since then I’ve been patiently feeding and building it up, making it nice and strong so it could rise bread loaves well. Yesterday something told me it was ready, so I put down my work and resumed my favorite habit. I know some people don’t like the act of kneading bread, that I simply don’t understand and don’t identify with. It bring me so much peace. I hope that you can find the same kind of solace and refreshment from something as simple as bread making that I do.
This is not a fancy artisan loaf recipe. This is a simple, country honey whole wheat sandwich bread loaf. It does look simple, but the flavor, if allowed to develop, is out of this world. I like to let mine rise for about 24 hours, sometimes a little less, so the sourdough flavor is bold. If you don’t like a borderline San Franciscan sourdough flavor, you can let it sour/rise for only 12 hours, or until it’s a height you like.
The flours I work with are all non gmo, organic heirloom varieties, freshly milled the day I’m going to use it using a nutrimill. This guarantees you’re getting the most nutrition possible out of your grains. I prefer spelt, einkorn, farro, and kamut. You can look in the “shopping guide” tab and find where I like to buy grains in bulk.
Also, if you’re not someone who enjoys kneading bread by hand, or certain physical limitations make that difficult I highly recommend this mixer specifically for bread kneading. It’s a huge time saver for those who don’t like kneading by hand or who need to save some time cranking out a few more loaves of bread for bigger families etc.
2C 12 hour sourdough starter (12 hour meaning fed and doubled before pouring off)
6C Flour (I do 2C Whole Grain and 4C unbleached)
Mix starter, water, salt, and honey together
*Add your whole grain flour to the liquid and butter and mix thoroughly
Add two more cups of flour, mix well
Turn the sticky ball out on to a well floured surface and knead remaining two cups of flour or until it reaches the right texture. (not too sticky and not too firm)
Knead for roughly 10 minutes
Let the dough rest for 30 minutes and check after to see if it needs more flour
Add more flour if necessary and knead or
Divide the dough in half, knead each half and form into into loaf sizes
Grease your hands with butter and the loaves slightly so they don’t dry out while rising
Put into load pans that are greased and floured
Let the loaves rise till doubled in size covered with a damp cloth (12-24 hours, remember sourdough bread is a much slower rise than commercial yeast bread)
After rising, dust with flour is desired and score (I also score the top otherwise the sides will crack and that’s just not pretty)
In a 400 degree oven, bake the loaves for 40 minutes or until the top is a decent shade of light to medium brown.
* Start with four cups of flour and evaluate how much the dough needs from there. Baking is finicky and changes with the weather. Some days you may use all six cups or more, some you may use less. Your hands will tell you what is right!
Simple enough, right? We absolutely love this recipe. Anytime I have fresh hot loaves out of the oven we can’t hardly wait to slice into it before it’s properly cooled. More often than not half a loaf is gone in a matter minute, as well as a decent amount of good butter!
These loaves make great gifts to bring with you to friends homes for dinner or to accompany a simple bowl of good soup. It also makes a mean grilled cheese and toast for any meal of the day! In fact, I’m going to go slice off a hunk now and slather it with good butter.