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I love sourdough. I love a big crusty hunk of it to enjoy with stew. But crusty sourdough doesn’t work very well for sandwiches. Making a sourdough that is sandwich bread quality is actually very easy and I’ve been playing with my sourdough recipe to make it even easier. Now in about 20 minutes hands on time I can have 4 loaves of light and fluffy sourdough bread. I found a bread recipe on line a couple of years ago (I do not remember the original source) and then last winter found a tutorial of a similar recipe. My method is based on a combination of those two.
Starter: Either catch your own starter or order a proven starter. I used this method for catching a starter. It is only whole wheat flour and water. Rebecca posted this starter which starts with rye.
This makes 4 loaves of bread and uses 4 cups of starter. It is easy to cut the recipe in half for 2 loaves or even add to it to make 6 loaves just make sure you have enough starter for the number of loaves you wish to make.
4 cups active starter
3 1/2 cups buttermilk or kefir or combination of the two
1 1/2 Tablespoons Sea Salt
1/3 cup Sucanat or other natural sweetener
3 Tablespoons melted butter
10 cups whole wheat flour
In a large bowl, mix together starter and buttermilk (Be sure that you have feed your starter per your starters instructions and it is in the active state). Add salt, sweetener and butter. Mix well. Add flour 2 cups at a time, stirring to combine between additions. By the time you get to the 8th cup you will probably need to resort to mixing with your freshly washed hands, it will be very thick. Once you have all of the flour in, you want to give the bread a quick knead. Only for a minute or two. If you look at the picture below you will see that the dough is not smooth and elastic like a well kneaded loaf but it is not a shaggy mess either. Butter the top of your bread and then give it a flip and butter the other side. Cover with a tea towel and put in a warm place. Let it set for 12-15 hours. I start my bread late afternoon and let it set overnight.
Sourdough starter seems to need a few weeks or so to really get its groove. The first few times I made bread it did not turn out very good. But it seems that the more I use my starter the better the bread (and other things I make with the starter) turns out. This is the main bread that we have in our house so I am baking it at least once a week (sometimes more if needed). I really think that utilizing my sourdough starter often helps with the bread turning out so good. Making our own sourdough bread has really been a huge help to our budget. I can make 4 loaves for less than what one good quality loaf of (non sourdough) sandwich bread costs.