Monday, February 10, 2014

Kitchen Adventures With Bread

I've been a bread baker for years and years and years.  I remember baking bread from the time I was a child.  Perhaps my passion is motivated by my love for eating bread, but whatever the reason, I love a good basic bread, but I also love experimenting with flavors.  I love savory breads (like rosemary bread) and I love sweet breads (like our traditional Christmas morning cinnamon rolls). I relish the feeling of bread dough in my hands (like honey oat bread or bread bowls), yet I'm not opposed to employing my bread machine either (like with these breadsticks)!

One thing I had never attempted, though, was a sourdough bread. For Christmas, Brian gave me a copy of Stones for Bread, a fiction story woven with recipes and bread talk.  There were also instructions for beginning a sourdough starter, but the book cautioned that a cold atmosphere was not conducive to activating the cultures. Since we are in the middle of one of our coldest winter on record, I sent out a Facebook plea and within a few hours, my friend Jill offered to share a bit of her starter. 

In the beginning, I was apprehensive about caring for it.  It requires regular "feeding" of flour and water to keep the cultures growing. What if I fed it too much?  What if I forgot to feed it?  What if it died right here on my counter before I have a chance to make my first loaf?   I talked about it so frequently that my kids started calling the starter my pet! 

I soon learned that my sourdough starter is forgiving.  Sometimes I add a little too much water. Sometimes it appears too thick, but as long as it continues to rise up the side of the jar and maintains that familiar tangy smell, I call it good. Each batch of bread I've made has been slightly different from the one before it, but it is all delicious.

I've been using a no-knead sourdough recipe. It's simple to mix up a batch in the evening and then let it sit covered on my counter overnight.  I wake in the morning to a bowl of bubbly risen dough. My cast-iron pot has been getting a workout. Baking the bread in that pot creates steam in the oven that produces a crackly, crust with a chewy crumb.

The fun part is deciding how to use the bread after it's baked.  I've eaten it toasted, slathered with butter and  jelly, for breakfast. 

I used a few slices to make French toast on a Sunday morning. 

I made thick egg salad sandwiches for lunch.

After gaining confidence with my sourdough skills, I branched out and attempted a recipe for chocolate cherry sourdough bread.  Only slightly sweet, with pops of dark chocolate and the tang of  dried cherries, it was to.die.for.  It was delicious plain, but even better toasted and spread with butter.

My biggest dilemma now is that maybe I'm enjoying this bread too much.  Maddie likes sourdough, but Brian and the other kids prefer a milder tasting bread.  That leaves me with a lot of bread to eat on my own, but I'm not complaining.

Do you bake bread?  Do you like the flavor of sourdough? Have you ever attempted to make it?


  1. I LOVE sourdough. It's perhaps my favorite bread. The chocolate cherry sourdough sounds delicious!

  2. The chocolate cherry sourdough bread...mmmmmm...

  3. You're right, the chocolate cherry sourdough bread is delicious! Thank you so much for sharing :)

    1. I think I'm going to try it next with dried blueberries!


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