lanoyee: White Turban Guy from Otoyomegatari stealing apricots and having fun doing it. (White Turban Guy - apricots!)
So, since I am so taken with this new baking my own bread thing, I want to share this bit of gloriousness with everyone! Here an instruction for making your very own sourdough bread, adapted from this German site. 'Cause Germans are bread fu masters.

WHAT YOU NEED:

- whole grain flour (wheat, rye, spelt -- whatever floats your boat, really!)
- lukewarm water
- a spacious dough bowl
- a warm room

And you can get started!

First, take roughly a handful (I think I just used two heaping tablespoons) of the flour. Put into the bowl! Now, add enough lukewarm (!) water to make a thin mixture. Now, go spy out a warm, cozy place where you can let nature do its magic.

About every 12 hours, stir the dough until it's nice and bubbly. Your sourdough likes it breezy! Once a day, fill up with another rough handful of flour and enough lukewarm water to have a thin mixture again. Repeat for 4-5 days, up to a week, until the dough is notably sour. It should have a pleasantly sour smell. If it's rank, you have not succeeded. :(

Fill some of your dough in a marmalade glass or something and store in the fridge. Leave about 500 grams of sourdough in your bowl. Add about 500g flour, 200ml lukewarm water, a tablespoon of salt and a cube of yeast and make a dough. Wheat and spelt flours need to be kneaded thoroughly, 5-10 minutes. Since your dough will be soft and sticky, it'll probably turn into more of a flaily pounding. Rye dough just needs to be mixed well -- and take my advice and don't do it with your hands, it is murderously sticky. Leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour, then make some cuts of the surface and stick into your 220°C hot preheated oven, on the floor of which you have emptied a small coffee cup's worth of water. Turn heat down to 180°C after 15 minutes, bake for about 50-60 minutes total.

Tadaaa! You have bread.

You may have noticed that this still has yeast in it. That would be because our sourdough culture is still a tiny baby sourdough culture and needs to be well-fed to grow.

Thus, bread #2!

What you need is:

- bowl!
- your sourdough
- 100g flour
- 100ml lukewarm water

Stir it all together nicely, let rest at a very warm place. I put it on my radiator. Leave it there for about 6-8 hours. Then add another 100g flour/100ml water, stir, leave to rest at a slightly cooler place for the same amount of time. Lastly, add the flour and water again, leave to rest at yet another slightly cooler place for about 3-4 hours.

There, now our sourdough is big and strong! Take a bit away to store in your marmalade glass. Mix the rest with flour, about a 1:1 or 2:1 sourdough to flour ratio, add a tablespoon of salt and some lukewarm water. I usually play this by ear a bit -- your dough needs to be coherent, but not too soft (else you will get whole grain cake, which you... don't really want). Again, wheat and spelt doughs need some punching to ensure future fluffiness. Let the whole thing rest at a warm place for 30-40 minutes, then stir/knead it again. At this point, you can put it into a boxy bread form, or, even better, one of those nifty little bread rising baskets, well floured (in which case you would later turn your dough onto the baking sheet). Leave to rest for about an hour.

Now pour some water onto your 250°C preheated oven and shove your bread (which you have made some cuts in, again) into the oven! Lower heat to 220° after ten minutes, then to 190° after another 15 minutes. Bake for about 60-70 mins total.
This is the instruction on the site; however, my oven has this little quirk in which it starts literally blowing off steam if heated as high as 250°C, so I just heat it to 200° and lower the heat ten degrees twice within the baking time. That works fine too.

Congrats! You have delicious bread. And now you can repeat this process whenever you have a hankering for fresh homemade bread! And best, you can also always toss seeds, nuts or whatever really into your dough. Be creative.
lanoyee: Makimachi Misao from Rurouni Kenshin, overjoyed. (Misao - HAPPY)
Literally dried fruit bread. These are traditionally made for Christmas where I'm from!

Translated from an old German cookbook.

3 pounds* whole grain wheat flour
1/4 l water
1 TBSP salt
25 g fresh yeast (or the according amount of dry yeast)
1 1/2 pounds dried pear slices
1 pound dried plums
-> for cooking: 1 1/2 l water, 300g sugar
1/4 pound sultanas
1/4 pound currants (tiny dried grapes)
1/2 pound nuts, chopped
40g candied lemon peel, diced
40g candied orange peel, diced
1 1/2 tsps cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/8 l Kirschwasser

* As you may or may not know, Germany uses the metric system, i.e. we are in the land of kilos and grams. An American pound is about 450g, but a German pound is 500g.

Soak the pear slices and plums overnight. After about 24 hours, bring to a boil with 1 1/2l water and 300g sugar. Cook until soft, then drain, preserving the water. Warm up the flour a little and sieve it into a bowl. Make a little dip in it and create a smooth little dough with the yeast and water (use only a little of the flour). Cover with flour and leave to rise for about half an hour. Now add enough of the reserved fruit water to make a thick, but pliant dough. Knead for 45 minutes. (Yep, that's right. Those who have a food processor that can knead dough are lucky indeed.) Now add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Shape into small loves and leave them to rest a few hours or overnight, then brush them with some of the fruit water, shove 'em in the oven and bake at 140-160°C for about 1 1/2 hours. Brush with fruit water again 5 minutes before taking them out. And you're done!

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February 2013

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