What is it Wednesday | Bob's Red Mill

What is it? Wednesday: Artisan Bread Flour

by Cassidy Stockton in What is it? Wednesday

What is bread flour? Our Artisan Bread Flour is milled from high-protein US-grown red wheat and mixed with just the right amount of malted barley flour, which helps breads rise. The high protein content is great for gluten development, which is especially desirable for chewy baguettes, pizza crusts, dinner rolls, sandwich loaves, pretzels, bagels and more.

How much protein does Bob’s Red Mill Artisan Bread Flour contain? Our bread flour averages 12-14% protein.

Why does protein (gluten) matter? The protein in wheat flour (aka gluten) gives baked goods structure and elasticity. For chewy breads and pizza crusts, you want to use a higher protein flour.

Gluten is sticky and stretchy (think of a balloon). When leavening reacts and produces gasses in your baked good, gluten creates pockets that expand around these gasses, causing your baked good to rise. More gluten and high-power leavening (yeast) will make beautiful artisan breads with lovely air pockets. Less gluten and tamer leavening (baking soda, baking powder), make smaller bubbles and smaller air pockets. When you’re striving to create a rustic artisan loaf of bread, you want big air pockets, making bread flour an ideal choice.

What is it? Wednesday: Artisan Bread Flour | Bob's Red Mill

How is it different from all purpose flour? Bread flour simply contains a higher amount of protein than all purpose flour. All purpose flour is designed to make fine cakes and chewy breads. Bread flour is made with bread baking specifically in mind. Using it will yield crusty loaves of bread and chewy pizza crusts.

Why would you use this instead of all purpose flour? Because you can. When you want to make the most perfect, rustic loaves of bread, the real question is why wouldn’t you want to use special ingredients? After all, fresh baked bread is just another way of saying “I love you.” In all seriousness, though, bread flour produces a chewier texture, better rise and crisper crust than all purpose flour.

Is bread flour gluten free? No. Bread flour is made from wheat and has a higher proportion of gluten than many other wheat flours, so it is definitely not suitable for a gluten free diet.

Is Bob’s Red Mill bread flour organic? No.

Is Bob’s Red Mill bread flour enriched? Yes, we enrich our bread flour to government standards. This includes adding malted barley flour (to improve the rise), niacin, iron, thiamin, riboflavin and folic acid.

Is Bob’s Red Mill bread flour whole grain? Nope. If you want a whole grain bread flour, we recommend our traditional Whole Wheat Flour or our Ivory Wheat Flour. Both are high in protein and made with 100% whole grain wheat.

Is there a substitute for bread flour? No, but you can replicate bread flour by using an all purpose flour and adding extra gluten to increase the protein content. We recommend an extra tablespoon of gluten per cup of flour.

Some of our favorite recipes using bread flour: 

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Cranberry Orange Almond Bread-F

Cranberry Orange Almond Bread

by Cassidy Stockton in Recipes

A zesty quick bread perfect for fall, this Cranberry Orange Almond Bread is made using our whole wheat pastry flour for a little extra nutrition. This loaf would be a great hostess gift for the upcoming holiday season. Simply make a few loaves, wrap securely and freeze. Then, the morning before a party, remove from the freezer and add a bow or cute label (we love these). No hostess is going to turn down a loaf of homemade quick bread. We love this bread plain or with a little bit of butter. It’s not overly sweet, so you might prefer whipped honey butter or jam if you need a treat. It makes a great bread for breakfast or snacking any time of day.

Cranberry Orange Almond Bread | Bob's Red Mill

Cranberry Orange Almond Bread

  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 6 Tbsp Butter, melted
  • 1 Egg
  • 2/3 cup Buttermilk
  • Zest of 1 large Orange
  • 1/3 cup fresh Orange Juice
  • 1/2 cup Almonds, chopped and toasted
  • 1 cup dried Cranberries

STEP 1 Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

STEP 2 In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together butter, egg, buttermilk, orange zest and orange juice. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Gently fold in almonds and cranberries.

STEP 3 Pour batter into prepared pan. Smooth top with spoon or spatula. Bake for 45–55 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Move to wire rack to cool completely.

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focaccia plated F

Rosemary and Sea Salt Gluten Free Focaccia {Giveaway}

by Cassidy Stockton in Contests, Gluten Free, Recipes

The Warm Kitchen: Gluten Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love from Amy Fothergill of The Family Chef is a wonderful resource for the gluten free cook. Full of wonderful recipes with detailed step-by-step instructions, The Warm Kitchen is perfect for a seasoned gluten free cook or a beginner. Start your day with Amy’s gorgeous cinnamon rolls, then try her Thai peanut noodle salad for lunch and enjoy her drool-worthy chicken pot pie for dinner, but don’t forget dessert- Amy’s banana cupcakes are just the ticket! Each recipe is accompanied by beautiful photos and many helpful hints and tips for recreating what you see on the page. Plus, she has substitutions for making each recipe free from dairy and eggs, as well!

Honestly, I’m incredibly intimidated by baking focaccia, but Amy’s instructions are so well done that I would feel comfortable taking on this recipe. All of her recipes are like this. Clearly written with good explanations of what to expect. Amy has a background in the culinary arts and teaches cooking classes, so she knows how to get her point across so that you can produce delicious dishes that everyone in your family will enjoy.

Amy was kind enough to provide us with a signed copy of The Warm Kitchen to giveaway. We are going to pair the book with a package of each of the flours you will need to make her flour blend- Brown Rice Flour, Sorghum Flour, Tapioca Flour, Potato Starch and Millet Flour. Follow the prompts below to enter. We’ll select a winner at random from all who enter by 11:59 pm on 8/8/14. If you just can’t wait and want to purchase the book now, Amy has generously offered us this link where you can purchase a signed copy of the book for just $25.

Gluten Free Rosemary and Sea Salt Focaccia from The Warm Kitchen | Bob's Red Mill

Rosemary and Sea Salt Gluten-Free Focaccia

by Amy Fothergill, recipe from The Warm Kitchen cookbook

This is one of my favorite recipes for a delicious focaccia that tastes like the real thing. It’s also naturally casein-free. Make sure to read through the recipe first; the method depends upon the type of yeast which is used. It’s not hard but you do have to allow time for rising.

I personally like to use my flour blend to make this recipe (see how to make the mix below). If you have a pre-made flour blend that includes xanthan gum, you might need to add between ½ – 1 teaspoon additional gum.

For more detailed information on how to make gluten-free yeast products like bread, focaccia, and pizza, take a look at The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love.

Makes a 13″ × 9″ pan

Liquid Ingredients

  • 2 large Eggs, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • ½ teaspoon Apple Cider or White Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Honey or Agave Nectar

Regular Yeast Ingredients

  • 3⁄4 cup warm Water, heated to 105°F-115°F
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons regular Active Dry Yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar for proofing yeast

Quick Rising Yeast Ingredients (do not add these together)

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons Quick Rising Yeast (1 packet)
  • 3/4 cup hot Water, heated to 120°F-130°F

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 cups Amy’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend (see below)
  • ½ cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Sea or Kosher Salt

Topping

  • 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh Rosemary or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon Coarse Sea Salt
  • Optional:  thinly sliced Red Onion (about ¼ of a medium onion)
  1. Heat the oven to 200°F to get the oven warm. Turn the oven off after 5 minutes.
  2. Mix the liquid ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Regular Yeast: To proof the yeast, place the warm water in a glass measuring cup. Add yeast and sugar; stir. Let it sit for 5 minutes until it’s foamy and fragrant. While the yeast proofs, add the dry ingredients to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (not the dough hook). Using a whisk, mix the dry ingredients in the bowl or mix with the paddle. Turn the stand mixer on and add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and give it a few twirls. Add the yeast and water mixture. Proceed to step 4.
    Quick Rising Yeast: Add the dry ingredients, including the quick rising yeast, to a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (not the dough hook). Using a whisk, mix the dry ingredients in the bowl. Turn the stand mixer on and add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and give it a few twirls. Add the hot water. Proceed to step 4.
  4. Raise speed to medium and mix for 2-3 minutes. You want the dough to look like stiff cake batter. It should spread to the sides of the bowl of the mixer and will be very sticky.
  5. Grease a 13″ × 9″ pan with olive oil.
  6. With a greased scoop or spatula, place dough into the pan. With either oiled hands or a spatula, spread the dough so it’s even. With your fingertips, make indentations over the dough.
  7. Place in the warm oven for 60 minutes for regular yeast or 20 minutes for quick rising yeast then remove. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  8. After the focaccia has risen, brush the top with olive oil. Top with fresh or dried rosemary and sprinkle with salt. Optionally add red onion.
  9. Place the focaccia in the oven and bake for about 18-22 minutes or until top begins to brown.
  10. Cut into pieces and enjoy.

Amy’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend

This is the flour blend that will hopefully change your life. It’s easy to mix, versatile, and can be a substitute for flour in almost any recipe. For baking, I do suggest you use a gum such as xanthan or guar. These can be found in most health or natural food stores.

Mix together and keep in an air-tight container:

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Almond Meal Bread | Bob's Red Mill

Almond Meal Bread

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Recipes

How does one enjoy bread while on a low carb diet? That’s a question we have been striving to answer. Our solution? This lovely Almond Meal Bread. It may look like a loaf of banana bread, but I assure you it’s definitely not banana bread. It has a lovely whole grain texture and savory flavor, despite being made from almond and coconut flour, perfect for sandwiches, toast or straight-up snacking. Yes, it uses a lot of eggs. That’s one of the trade-offs for leaving out the gluten and the starch in this recipe. It’s a great recipe for those looking to reduce their carb intake or are following the paleo diet… or just have a bag of almond meal lying around needing to be put to good use. Enjoy!

Almond Meal Bread | Bob's Red Mill

Almond Meal Bread

Contributed by:  Sarah House for Bob’s Red Mill Test Kitchen

Prep Time: 15 minutes | Cook Time:  35 – 45 minutes | Yield: 12 servings | Total Carbs per serving: 8g, Net Carbs: 4g

Step 1

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line an 8×4- or 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with pan spray.

Step 2

Whip eggs until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, sift together Bob’s Red Mill Natural Almond Meal, Coconut Flour, baking powder and salt.

Step 3

While the eggs are still whipping, slowly stream in the melted and cooled coconut oil.  Fold in the dry ingredients.

Step 4

Scoop batter into the prepared pan and smooth top.

Step 5

Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 – 45 minutes.

Step 6

Let cool completely before removing from the baking pan.

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Whole Wheat Flax Beer Bread from Fitzala | Bob's Red Mill

Whole Wheat Beer Bread with Flax {Guest Post}

by Guest in Featured Articles, Recipes

Hello Bob’s Red Mill blog readers! I’m Jenni, the personal trainer behind Fitzala. Today I’ll be sharing a great recipe for a hearty snack. Beer bread doesn’t rank high on most people’s list for healthy snacks, but this one is delicious and good for you.

Most beer bread recipes are high in sugar and fat, which isn’t the best for your health. This recipe uses flaxseed meal to keep the bread moist and replace the not so healthy fats. Flaxseed is high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Another great aspect of healthy fats is that they provide a high level of satiety, making you feel more satisfied after eating.

Normal whole wheat flour can give baked goods a grainy, dense or overwhelming “wheaty” taste. You can fix this and still get the whole grain nutrients by substituting whole wheat pastry flour. It lends the lighter texture that most white flour baked goods have without sacrificing the fiber, vitamins and minerals that whole wheat flour lends.

With these two power ingredients, this bread is nutritious, satiating and sticks with you while you go about your busy day. The hoppy beer taste is just a bonus!

If you’re wary about using beer, take comfort in knowing that 75% of the alcohol bakes out. There’s not enough left in it to give you buzz of any kind, though I wouldn’t recommend using it if you are allergic to alcohol. You can substitute soda or seltzer water for beer, but I can’t guarantee the results and the taste will definitely differ.

Whole Wheat Flax Beer Bread from Fitzala | Bob's Red Mill

Whole Wheat Beer Bread with Flax

Yield: 15 slices

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • ½ cup Flaxseed Meal
  • 1 tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¾ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup (sugar-free is fine too)
  • 1- 12 oz bottle/can of Beer

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare a bread pan with grease or parchment.

Place the flour, flax, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl and whisk to combine.

Beat together the egg and maple syrup in another bowl then mix in the beer.

Pour the wet ingredients in to the dry and mix until just combined.

Place the bread mixture in your greased pan and bake for 40 minutes or until done.

Jenni Kenyon from FitzalaJenni is an NASM certified personal trainer and loves helping women find balance in health and exercise. She and her husband live in Central Washington and spend as much time as possible outdoors. Find her on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or G+.

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Birdspotter Recipe of the Week | Bob's Red Mill

Bird Seed Bread

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles

For the second year, we’ve teamed up with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to bring bird lovers the ultimate birding photo contest. Each week we’re giving away prizes and sharing some of our favorite recipes, perfect for fueling a healthy, happy day of watching birds. Check back here each week for a great recipe, and don’t forget to vote on your favorites and enter your own photos in BirdSpotter!

This is an easy way to enjoy freshly baked whole grain bread. I’m a novice bread baker and I’ve made this recipe successfully time and again. If you really want a 100% whole grain bread, I recommend this one. As it is, this recipe bakes up beautifully full of seedy goodness, sure to make your feathered friends envious. Serve this with a hot bowl of soup or slice for sandwiches, either way, you are sure to enjoy it.

Birdseed Bread | Bob's Red Mill

Birdseed Bread

Directions

Bread Machine:

Add ingredients to bread machine in the order recommended by the bread machine manufacturer and select basic bread cycle. Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Makes 1 loaf.

By Hand:

Add honey, yeast and warm water to a bowl and let stand 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, combine flours, salt and seeds. Once yeast mixture has proofed, add oil to liquid, then flour mixture. Mix well and turn out onto flat surface and start kneading, adding flour as needed. Knead for about 5-8 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl and cover. Allow to rise for 45 minutes, or until double. Punch down loaf and form dough into loaf. Place in an oiled loaf pan. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until double. Bake at 375°F for 40-45 minutes.

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Cheddar Apple Bread | Bob's Red Mill

Cheddar Apple Bread

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Recipes

Apples and sharp cheddar cheese are a delightful pairing in this easy quick bread. If you don’t have our apple pieces on hand, most other dried apples will do- just skip the soaking step. Definitely still include the milk, but you won’t need to rehdryate them. Our apple pieces are crisp and delightful right out of the bag, but need a little softening for baked goods.

True to its name, this quick bread would be wonderful served as part of your Thanksgiving spread or sliced for a mid-morning snack. This recipe claims to make 12 servings, but don’t count on that, we learned at the mill that those “12” servings will go fast. I like the idea of playing around with the cheese, too, maybe make a loaf with sharp cheddar and another with a tangy blue cheese. Yum!

Cheddar Apple Bread | Bob's Red Mill

Cheddar Apple Bread

Contributed by:  Sarah House for Bob’s Red Mill Test Kitchen

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time:  40 minutes
Yield: 12 servings

Step 1

Combine apple pieces and warm milk and let soak until soft, about 10 minutes.

Step 2

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F and oil an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan.

Step 3

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Whisk together apples, milk and eggs.  Fold in dry ingredients along with 1 cup (88g) of cheddar cheese.

Step 4

Pour batter into the prepared pan and top with remaining ¼ cup (22g) cheese.

Step 5

Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Step 6

Let cool 30 minutes before serving.

 

Makes 12 servings.

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Spiced Carrot Amaranth Bread

Meatless Mondays: Spiced Carrot Amaranth Bread

by Cassidy Stockton in Featured Articles, Meatless Mondays, Recipes, Whole Grains 101

Quick breads are so simple and so comforting. This recipe blends warm spices like cinnamon and cloves with carrots, pecans and amaranth for an unusual, yet familiar feeling treat. Serve this bread warm from the oven with a cup of tea and some honey butter, or freeze a loaf for a ready-to-go housewarming or hostess gift. However you opt to enjoy it, this bread is a true delight.

Spiced Carrot Amaranth Bread

Spiced Carrot Amaranth Bread

Recipe by Michelle Abendschan of Je Mange la Ville

Makes 10-12 servings

  • Non-stick Cooking Spray
  • ¾ cup packed Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup Molasses
  • ¼ cup low fat Buttermilk
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • ½ cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • ½ tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp powdered Ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground Cloves
  • 1/4 cup Amaranth
  • ½ tsp Kosher Salt
  • ½ cup melted Coconut Oil
  • 1-3/4 cup grated Carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped Pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9X5-inch loaf pan with non-stick spray and set aside. In a stand mixer, mix the sugar, molasses, buttermilk, vanilla and eggs.

Sift together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Stir in the amaranth and salt. Add the flour-amaranth and melted coconut oil. Add a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides, if needed. Mix until just combined. Stir in carrot and pecans.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread the top out evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan about 15 minutes, then cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

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Bread Starters: Sour

Bread Starters Part Three: Natural Cultures

by Sarah House in Featured Articles, Recipes

We’ve prefermented.  We’ve baked.  We understand the basic concepts of yeast fermentation!  Now, it’s time for the grand poobah – natural cultures.

Natural cultures have unlimited life (you can keep them alive for practically forever with proper feedings).  You need only flour and water.  The only yeast used is that which is found in the surrounding environment.  It takes about a week to grow a starter and after that, it’s good to go!

There are several names for starters: sourdough, sour, levain, mother, chef, seed, etc., but they are all essentially the same thing.  Hydration amounts may differ but growing, sustaining and using starters follow the same steps.  Below is a recipe for building Bob’s Red Mill Basic Loose Wheat Sour.

Bread Starters: Sour

Building Your Sour

_____ Day 1  

Unbleached White Flour         3 oz

Whole Wheat Flour                 1 oz

Water (85°F)                           4 oz

Mix until combined in a large bowl; scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours.  *Use a clean non-reactive metal or glass bowl.  Only use plastic if it is clean and free of other odors.

_____ Day 2

Mix well and scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours. *This should look bubbly and smell “ripe”.  Discard if there is ever mold in the sour.

_____ Day 3

Unbleached White Flour         3 oz

Whole Wheat Flour                 1 oz

Water (85°F)                           4 oz

Sour                                         4 oz

Discard remaining 4 oz of sour (or give out to friends so they can grow their own).  Add flours and water and mix well; scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours. *There will be quite a bit of waste when building a sour.  Unfortunately, this is necessary so the sour does not get too large to easily maintain or use.

_____ Day 4

Unbleached White Flour         2.25oz

Whole Wheat Flour                 .75 oz

Water (85°F)                           3 oz

Sour                                         6 oz

Discard remaining 6 oz of sour.  Add flours and water and mix well; scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours.

_____ Day 5

Unbleached White Flour         4.5 oz

Whole Wheat Flour                 1.5 oz

Water (55°F)                           6 oz

Sour                                         3 oz

Discard remaining 9 oz of sour.  Mix water and 3 oz sour until dissolved.  Add the flours and mix well; scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours. *Cooler water is used from now on to slow down fermentation and build flavor and acidity.

_____ Day 6

Unbleached White Flour         4.5 oz

Whole Wheat Flour                 1.5 oz

Water (55°F)                           6 oz

Sour                                         3 oz

Discard remaining 12 oz of sour.  Mix water and 3 oz sour until dissolved.  Add the flours and mix well; scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours.

_____ Day 7

Unbleached White Flour         4.5 oz

Whole Wheat Flour                 1.5 oz

Water (55°F)                           6 oz

Sour                                         3 oz

Discard remaining 12 oz of sour.  Mix water and 3 oz sour until dissolved.  Add the flours and mix well; scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours.

It is now time to decide if you want to use your sour within 24 hours or if it will be time to begin maintenance and storage.  If you are going to store your sour for use at a later date, decide if you want to store it at room temperature with daily feedings or in the refrigerator with monthly feedings.

Maintaining Your Sour   *Feedings eliminate over-fermentation (which occurs when yeast consumes all available food leaving it unable to leaven).

At room temperature

_____ Day 8 and on…

Unbleached White Flour         1.5 parts

Whole Wheat Flour                 0.5 parts

Water (55°F)                           2 parts

Sour                                         1 part

Discard remaining sour as often as needed – always keep at least 8 oz of sour.  Mix water and sour until dissolved.  Add the flours and mix well; scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit a room temperature for 18 – 24 hours.

In the refrigerator

_____ Day 8 and then once a week every three weeks…

Unbleached White Flour         1.5 parts

Whole Wheat Flour                 0.5 parts

Water (55°F)                           2 parts

Sour                                         1 part

Discard remaining sour as often as needed – always keep at least 8 oz of sour.  Mix water and sour until dissolved.  Add the flours and mix well; scrape down sides.  Cover loosely with a lid and store in the refrigerator.  Feed the same ratio every three weeks.

Now you’ve built your healthy starter and you know how to keep it alive with regular feedings.  But what’s the point of all this work if you never get to enjoy the fruits of your labors?  Let your starter reach its full potential.  Let’s bake some bread!

  You

Yeah!  Oh, wait, hold up.  This starter has been stored in my fridge for the last two weeks.

 Me

Ooooh, um….

You

Are you trying to tell me I can’t just whip up a loaf of bread?

Me

Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.

You

Me

You need to wake it up a bit.  Give it some energy so it can make a great loaf of bread.  You just need to plan ahead a little.

That’s right folks, using a natural culture starter requires some planning.  At least 24 hours if it’s stored at room temperature but, if you store your starter in the fridge, you need to give it four days to gain enough strength to leaven a loaf of bread.  Starters are easy to grow and maintain but if you are not so adept at planning, this aspect may be a drawback.

Using Your Sour  *Plan ahead!

If you are storing your sour at room temperature, make sure to feed it 18 – 24 hours before you plan to bake.  If you are storing your sour in the refrigerator, remove at least half the amount you will be using from the refrigerator four days before baking.  Let it sit at room temperature for 24 hours then begin feeding it for three days before baking.

From here on out, we’ll be referring to ratios and parts.  1 part sour will be the amount of sour you will be starting with (if you follow the instructions below, it will be half the amount you will need for the final bread recipe).  Let’s say your recipe call for 8 oz of starter.  Begin with 4 oz; that will equal 1 part.  Therefore, 2 parts water will be 8 oz, 0.5 parts whole wheat flour will be 2 oz and 1.5 parts unbleached white flour will be 6 oz.  Got it?

At room temperature

_____ 1 Day Before Baking

Unbleached White Flour         1.5 parts

Whole Wheat Flour                 0.5 parts

Water (55°F)                           2 parts

Sour                                         1 part

Remove at least half the amount of sour you will need.  In a large bowl, mix water and sour until dissolved.  Add the flours and mix well; scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours.

In the refrigerator

_____ 4 Days Before Baking

Remove at least half the amount of sour you will need.  Place it in a large clean ceramic, glass or metal bowl.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours.

_____ 3 Days Before Baking

Unbleached White Flour         1.5 parts

Whole Wheat Flour                 0.5 parts

Water (55°F)                           2 parts

Sour                                         1 part

Mix water and sour until dissolved.  Add the flours and mix well; scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours.

_____ 2 Days Before Baking

Unbleached White Flour         1.5 parts

Whole Wheat Flour                 0.5 parts

Water (55°F)                           2 parts

Sour                                         1 part

Mix water and sour until dissolved.  Add the flours and mix well; scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours.

_____ 1 Day Before Baking

Unbleached White Flour         1.5 parts

Whole Wheat Flour                 0.5 parts

Water (55°F)                           2 parts

Sour                                         1 part

Mix water and sour until dissolved.  Add the flours and mix well; scrape down sides.  Cover with cheesecloth or a clean towel and let sit at room temperature for 18 – 24 hours.

Bread Starters: Sour

That’s what I call a sour!

Baking Day!

Measure the amount of sour you need and follow your recipe as directed.

See?  Refreshing your starter is relatively painless!  And now you have a luscious, fragrant, deeply-flavored loaf of bread.  Totally worth it.

Can I make a gluten free starter?  Yes, just use gluten free flours and remember to include binder gums in the final bread dough.

Can I change of the flavor of my starter?  Yes, beer, buttermilk, yogurt, and fruit juice all provide new and unique flavors.

Will my bread really be that much better using a starter?  Yes.  Go ahead, make a loaf with starter and one without.  You’ll see.  I dare you.

Oh, and if you’re going out of town for awhile, you can always take your starter to the Sourdough Hotel.

Happy Baking!

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English Muffins

Bread Starters Part Two: Biga and Poolish

by Sarah House in Featured Articles, Recipes, Whole Grains 101

I hope everyone was able to try out one of the preferments discussed in the previous post (pâte fermentée or a sponge).  What did you notice about your bread?  Was it taller? Stronger?  Nicer crumb?  Fabulous!  Let’s move on to some preferments that offer a bit more flavor along with the great structural boosts they’re known for.

First up:  biga.  Biga is a traditional Italian preferment that is often used with super soft, highly hydrated doughs like ciabatta and focaccia.  This preferment’s ratio of 2 parts flour to 1 part water make for a very stiff mixture that can be hard to mix by hand.  After the initial mix, a biga will look rather useless.  But, give it a few hours and it will soften and hydrate.  You’ll know your biga is ripe and ready when the dough is domed and just beginning to recede in the center.  The best thing about bigas:  they offer a lot of flavor and many qualities of sours without the time commitment.

Biga

Prepare 8 – 24 hours before baking.

  • Flour                30% of total flour from bread recipe
  • Water              equal weight as 15% of total flour
  • Yeast               8 – 10% of total yeast from bread recipe

Biga

 Now it’s time for my favorite in the preferment family (shhh, don’t tell the others):  poolish.  Poolish was originally used in Poland (hence the name) and is such a great preferment that it is one of the most widely used in French bakeries.  That’s right, French boulangers ditched their very own pâte fermentée to use a Polish poolish.  Why is it so popular?  Yes, yes, you’ll get great rise, crust and structure but you’ll also get a fabulous moist crumb with chewy texture and amazing flavor.  Oh, the flavor!  Sweet and tangy and just about perfection.

Poolish is the most hydrated preferment (1 part flour to 1 part water) and looks almost soupy.  This high hydration content is what creates the winning crumb and chew.  Ripeness is indicated when the surface is covered with small bubbles.  If the poolish has risen and then begun to recede (called a “high water mark”) its leavening power is shot.  Do over. And if you’re wondering what to make using a poolish, try this Whole Wheat English Muffins recipe.  They were a huge hit here at Bob’s and I ate three of them in about 20 minutes.  Seriously.

Whole Wheat English Muffins

Poolish

Prepare 4 – 24 hours before baking.

  • Flour                30% of total flour from bread recipe
  • Water              equal weight as 30% total flour
  • Yeast               8 – 10% of total yeast from bread recipe

 

Poolish

 A word about measurements

You may have noticed that, so far, all of the formulas are using percentages and reference weight.  Why is that?  Because measuring by weight is far more accurate than measuring by volume.  If you are serious about baking and want to produce consistently excellent products, use a scale.  Treat yourself.  And your eaters.  Baker’s scales for home cooks are incredibly affordable (Bob’s Red Mill sells this one).  And with the ability to measure in American Standard or metric, you can make delicious recipes from those crazy countries that don’t use our ounces and pounds (which is everyone).

Stay tuned….next week we’ll be pulling out the big guns:  naturally cultured sourdough starters.

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Sarah House Google: Sarah House
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