Sourdough Bread

Note: this recipe assumes you already have a sourdough starter. If you don't have one, you can search the Internet to find one, or check with your local health food store. We recommend that you use organic whole grains when at all possible. This is a yeast-free bread recipe for two loaves. Use half the ingredients for one loaf.

Making the head starter:

Dissolve the starter in the water. Add enough flour to make a medium stiff dough. Knead for 10 minutes or until the dough becomes stretchy and less sticky. Divide the dough in quarters. Put one quarter in a glass or pottery dish with a lid, or a plate on top. This will be your starter lump for next time. Put the other three quarters in a covered glass or pottery dish and allow to ferment and rise at room temperature overnight 8-12 hours.

Making the bread:

Mix the head starter with the warm water in a glass mixing bowl or bread mixer. You may need to break up the dough in the water a little with a spoon or your hands.

Mix in the salt, honey, oil, and 3 cups flour. Knead in bread mixer or by hand for about 10 minutes, adding 1-3 cups more flour to make a stiff dough. Some flour has a lot of moisture, so don't be afraid to use as much as you need. If your dough should become too stiff to work with and you feel you have added too much flour, add 1-2 tablespoons water and continue to knead until the gluten has developed.

To test the gluten, take a small piece of dough, flatten it out a little, and stretch it between your two hands. If it tears quickly, the gluten is not developed and the dough should be kneaded several more minutes. If you can stretch out the piece of dough and see light coming through, the gluten has developed sufficiently.

Divide the dough in half. On a lightly oiled board, shape the two halves into loaves and place in greased 4" X 8" loaf pans. Heat your oven to 200  F. and turn it off.

Place the pans in the oven, cover with a clean, damp towel and let rise for 3-4 hours, until doubled in size.

Do not expect this bread to rise as it bakes as normal yeast bread does. Bake at 350 F. for 45 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on baking racks.

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