Although I have since had to discard all of my starters, this is the bread that really convinced me of the value of cultivating your own baking yeast–not in place of, but in addition to store-bought yeast. This bread is so hearty, almost salty, so good with butter, preserves, hummus, and alone. It’s the kind of bread you try to tear into with your bare hands, but if you’ve got small ones like me, you’ll need a knife and feel kind of like a wimp for it. It’s the kind of bread you feel proud to make, and will long to make once more…
…as soon as you’ve settled in a place where you can capture some wild yeast from the air again…
It’s the kind of bread that makes me feel like a cowgirl.
I like that.
zest of one orange
optional: (I’ll try these next time)
1 Tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon anise seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1. Mix together water and starter in a large bowl.
2. Add molasses and orange zest.
3. In a separate bowl, combine all the flours and salt — I used a whisk to get everything well incorporated
4. Using a large spoon, gradually stir together the flour mix into the wet ingredients. Once everything is well incorporated, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
5. After 15 minutes, stir together for another minute.
6. Allow to rest for an additional 15 minutes, then stir together again for another minute.
7. Cover with plastic and leave at room temperature for 12-14 hours.[Now, when I baked this loaf the 14 hour mark came at a bad time, when I was too tired to trudge through the next few steps, so I decided to turn this step into 24 hours at room temp, followed by overnight in the fridge. I had a yummy result regardless.]
8. Proceed to enjoy your life while this dough rises.
9. After the proofing time (those 12-14 hours), stretch and shape your dough into a round for baking. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 15 minutes (I mean, you’ve come this far, what’s another few minutes, right?)
10. Since I don’t have a proofing basket, I place a sheet of bounty in a bowl and dust it heavily with flour, then place the dough inside of it, just like I did when I made pumpernickel. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1.5 hours.
11. 30 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.
12. Score your dough with a sharp knife (this allows for expansion and a nice pattern to emerge atop the bread), and bake until the internal temperature is 200 degrees F. This took about 4o minutes for me, but I like to check once it gets golden, took it out to cool a bit and thumped the bottom of the loaf — a hollow sound usually means your bread is done.