Homemade Bread. (How to use the starter I posted yesterday)

2011-05-21 11:56
Mountain Standard Time

Homemade bread is hands down my favorite thing to make and eat.  It always smells so good while it is baking.  This recipe is easy to do by hand or be done in a mixer.

Anyway this bread is used by first making a sponge.  And really take the time to do the sponge it makes the bread results so much better.
To do that you will need:

1 ½ cups of warm water (not hot it will kill the yeast)
1 cup starter (posted previously) You can use 1/4 teaspoon of rapid-rise yeast
3 ½ cups flour (whole wheat or white)
Mix it together using a wooden spoon in a largish sized bowl.

The dough—Add the following ingredients to the sponge

2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar I like to use honey powder sometimes brown sugar
about 2 1/2 cups of flour (whole wheat or white)

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter top and knead it until it is smooth and elastic (10-15 minutes it is fabulous for working out stress too). Add flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking. Place the dough in a large clean bowl and let it rise in a warm place at least 2 hours or longer. The rising times will be less if you use store bought yeast.
Gently deflate the dough and divide it in half. Shape it into loaves, either round or long. Sprinkle the bread board with corn meal and set the loaf on the meal to cover the bottom of the loaf. Place the loaves on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise a second time (2 hours—more or less, depending on the activity of your yeast and the temperature). Using a very sharp knife or scissors make 1/2 inch deep slashes at a slant for long loaves or crisscross slashes for round loaves. For a pretty loaf, cut your slashes with your knife at an angle instead of straight down.  Looks really good ones it rises up.
Bake in a preheated oven (400 F). Spray a bit of cooking oil on top of the bread to help it brown up.

Bake 20-25 minutes more or for a total of 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
The dough may also be baked in regular loaf pans. Or for an authentic artisan crust you may try using an Artisan French Bread Baking Pan (like the pan I am using in the photo)or a pizza stone.

We love this bread for breakfast with peanut butter and for dinner with garlic butter.

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