Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bread challenge

I have initiated a bread challenge. Challenger: myself. Challenged: myself. Challenge: bake a new loaf of bread every week this fall and winter until I've made every loaf of bread in my recipe catalogue. And yes, I will be doing them all by hand, in pans or on my baking stone. Electric bread makers are for whiners.

The vast bulk of my bread recipes are in my 1970s Better Homes & Gardens binder. The other recipes will come from Ina Garten's books, and she doesn't have too many, so I won't list them here; in fact, I'll probably make them in conjunction with the matching BH&G recipes to see which one I like better.

Here is a list of the breads I'll be baking, falling into two categories: yeast breads and quick breads.

Yeast breads*
  • Easy-mix white bread
  • White bread (conventional method)
  • French bread
  • Molasses-oatmeal bread
  • Rye bread
  • German stollen
  • Cheese bread
  • Swedish limpa
  • Pumpernickel
  • Anadama bread
  • Russian black bread
  • Egg bread
  • Julekage
  • Cardamom braid
  • Peasant bread
  • Kuchen
  • Chocolate swirl coffee cake
  • Cinnamon crisps
  • Sweet rolls (various flavors)
  • Yeast doughnuts
  • Hot cross buns
  • Bismarcks (various fillings)
  • Dinner rolls (various shapes)
  • Bagels (various flavors)
  • Breadsticks
  • Croissants
  • Brioche
  • Soft pretzels
  • Pita bread (various flavors)
  • Batter rolls
  • Sourdough bread
  • Orange-cinnamon sourdough rolls
* I have already made whole wheat bread and potato bread, so while I may make them again during the challenge, I will not be blogging them again.

Quick breads*
  • Boston brown bread
  • Date-apple coffee bread
  • Cranberry-orange bread
  • Cherry-pecan bread
  • Three-C bread
  • Pumpkin bread
  • Nut bread
  • Any-fruit coffee cake
  • Spicy buttermilk coffee cake
  • Orange-date coffee cake
  • Blueberry buckle
  • Streussel coffee cake
  • Cocoa ripple ring
  • Applesauce coffee cake
  • Sticky nut rolls
  • Cake doughnuts (various flavors)
  • Buttermilk doughnuts
  • Apple fritter rings
  • Homemade biscuit mix
  • Beer-cheese triangles
  • Pecan biscuit spirals
  • Biscuits supreme (various flavors)
  • Sesame swirls
  • Hush puppies
  • Corn bread
  • Spoon bread
  • Basic muffins (various flavors)
  • Honey-wheat muffins
  • Sunshine muffins
  • French toast
  • Waffles
  • Popovers
* I have already made zucchini loaf, banana bread, and pancakes, and similar to the yeast breads I have already made, I will not blog them again.


And to kick off the bread challenge, I made a sourdough starter (recipe from Better Homes & Gardens binder), which is a yeast fermentation that you need in order to make sourdough bread. It is super easy to start, although watching over it in the coming weeks will probably be the more challenging part.

You begin by heating up 2 1/2 cups of water to 110-115 degrees. Put 1/2 cup of the water into a bowl with one package of yeast and stir together until smooth.

Then add the rest of the water, as well as 2 cups of flour and 1 tbsp. of honey. (You can also use sugar in place of honey, but I thought honey would taste better.) It's a little lumpy at first:

But whisk it together for a few minutes until it is nice and smooth, like this:

Cover with a cheesecloth and store at room temperature to ferment.

The fermentation process is somewhat intensive. You keep it at room temperature for 5 to 10 days, until it starts to become bubbly. During this time, you stir it 2-3 times per day. When it's fermented, you store it in the fridge with the cheesecloth still over it. You can't cover it, or the yeast will basically suffocate. (Remember that this mixture is essentially alive.) This seems more labor intensive than keeping plants in the house!

Once it's fermented, I will use it in a sourdough loaf. However, I will only need 1 cup of the starter for each loaf. You can keep the starter alive indefinitely by continuing to feed it, as bizarre as that sounds. Here's what Better Homes & Gardens suggests:
"To replenish Starter after using, stir 3/4 cup all purpose flour, 3/4 cup water, and 1 tsp. sugar or honey into remaining amount. Cover; let stand at room temperature at least 1 day or till bubbly. Refrigerate for later use. If Starter isn't used within 10 days, stir in 1 tsp. sugar or honey. Repeat every 10 days until used."
Weird. I wonder how Dave will feel about me keeping a living blob of yeast in the fridge. I guess this was an appropriate project for Halloween...

1 comment:

Dave Musser said...

For the record, I was really happy with our new yeast pet until it freaked out and tried to attack our fridge.