Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Drive Thru Sue Sourdough THM:E - Day #1, Mixing Day

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Please check out all the pages related to making THM:E Sourdough Bread!


So, I promised that this recipe would be easy enough for Drive Thru Sue, and it's true.  But, even Sue will need to slow down, and realize that while there is almost no WORK involved, patience is still a virtue.  Sourdough *is sourdough* because it takes time for the yeasts to work.  This recipe is in 2 phases - Mixing day and Baking Day (which can be ANY day, once you've got dough in your fridge!) Don't throw in the towel - you can do it! - but you'll have to ramp up slowly.  First, you need a Wild Yeast Starter. Go to the linked page, and take about 7-10 days of *virtually no work* and create a bubbly wild yeast starter.  If you already have one of those, then you can keep going!

This bread does include olive oil.  However, the 1 Tablespoon is divided among 4 small or 2 medium loaves of bread, and you'll only eat about 3 slices in a serving, keeping the fats down to very low levels.


2 cups wild yeast starter (1/2 the quart jar, give or take a bit is fine)
2 1/2 cups hot tap water (NOT boiling)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
5 cups White Whole Wheat (King Arthur is my favorite brand, and I'll always shop around until I find a store that carries it)


For Mixing Day:
~14 Cup Tupperware container (for mixing and keeping dough in the fridge)
wooden spoon

For Baking Day:
parchment paper
wooden cutting board (NOT plastic) or a second baking pan
Baking stone (preferable) or flat metal baking pan
serrated knife
some ice cubes
optional: small (3.5 x 6.5) bread pan (not necessary to get started, only for medium loaves)


This first recipe will make 4 small (family can mostly finish in 1-2 meals) or 2 medium loaves.  The link at the top of the page includes instructions for smaller batches and larger loaves if you find you do not eat the bread fast enough to keep up with the starter.


This first set of instructions may seem lengthy, but that's just because of all the explanations.  It's very simple and easy to do, with very little prep or time spent actually working.  You'll need to be home for around 4-5 hours, but you'll hardly touch the dough.  You can totally run to the store and come back, too.  This recipe is very forgiving!

(Please forgive the jumping - my 6 year old was videoing!!)

On Mixing Day:

  1. In your 14C container, place the starter, hot water, salt and olive oil.  Chop at the starter with the whisk, and whisk until blended into the water, just a minute or 2.  Get lots of air and froth into the mixture if you can!  If you end up with slimy strings just ignore them, they are a by-product of the starter.  Future batches will have very little to none of the strings.  They'll bake right up into the bread!
  2. Now add all the flour and stir with the wooden spoon.  It might take a bit of muscle, but the dough should be very wet and stick to your fingers if you try to touch it.  If it seems stiff enough to knead, add more water.  The moisture content of your flour will depend on your local weather, and the water might need adjusted according to the season!  Once you've made a batch or 2, you'll know how the dough should look and can drizzle in extra water if needed.
  3. All of the above should only take about 5 minutes.  If you pinch up a bit of dough, it should stick to your fingers, and break off of the dough easily with no stretch.  It should smell like wet flour, but nothing extraordinary.
  4. Cover with the lid (but leave one corner vented) and rest for 2 hours.  Set the timer on your phone and run to the store, feed the kids, get a bubble bath, etc.  If it accidentally sits 2.5-3 hours, it won't mind.
  5. Now comes the slightly more demanding part.  You'll stick your hand into the container 5 times, 30 minutes apart.  These are the "folds".  We are not kneading - in fact, that would hurt this very-wet dough.  We do need to gently stretch the whole grains to lengthen them into a softer dough, instead of leaving each grain of flour as a course, individual piece.  This folding technique is the part that makes it possible to have 100% whole wheat that is edible and not dense as a rock, AND that doesn't take the time, effort or skill of kneading.
  6. To "fold"
    1. Run your hand down one side of the dough container to the bottom.  Gently grip the bottom of the dough and pull it up, folding the dough over itself to the middle of the top.  It won't be pretty and will probably try to ooze back into it's original place - that's fine.
    2. Rotate the container 90 degrees, and pull up the second side
    3. Repeat with the third and fourth side.
    4. This should take no longer than 30 seconds, and you should notice that the dough is a bit less sticky and is starting to smell like yeast instead of just wet flour.  It will also start to stretch instead of just breaking off like the original batch.  That's the yeast working!!
  7. Congratulations, you've just performed your first fold - the most difficult part of this bread!  Seriously, if you can pull dough from the bottom to the top 4 times, you've mastered the hardest part of this recipe!  You'll need to do 5 "folds", around 30 minutes apart (or 45-60 minutes... again, very forgiving).  Here's a handy schedule you can scribble onto a piece of paper for your first few times and cross off as you go until you can get it into your mind:
  • Mix dough, rest 2 hours
  • Fold #1, Rest 30
  • Fold #2, Rest 30
  • Fold #3, Rest 30
  • Fold #4, Rest 30
  • Fold #5, place in refrigerator, covered with the lid cracked on one side (by this point the dough should be quite plump and stretchy and smell like good, yeasty dough!)

Note on video - I took this video during my very first trial batch of dough, and I've made a few changes since then.  In my final recipe (the one written here), the dough is not quite as wet as this.  It shouldn't stick this badly to your hands.  After the 2 hour resting period the dough should hold together pretty well and fold over nicely, and not be a mushy puddle.  Also, I increased the recipe to make 5 'loaves'  (4 loaves and 1 starter piece) since I found I was needing to mix dough too frequently - I wanted a bigger batch!

Now your first day is done.  If you lost track of time or ran out of time, and only did 4 folds, that's also OK.  Try to stick as closely as possible to the recipe with the timing, but no worries if time got away from you.  The dough MUST rest in the fridge overnight to continue rising, and to allow the yeast time to finish it's work, souring the flour.  Come back tomorrow for baking instructions!

Please check out all the pages related to making THM:E Sourdough Bread!

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