I have been experimenting with sourdough bread for around two years now. My family loves bread — sandwiches are a staple in my home — but many of my sourdough loaves over the past few years have been dense. My family has not complained, and we have grown accustomed to it, but I had an inkling that they prefer a softer, less hearty bread.
I am often very practical — I avoid experimenting with food so I won’t waste money on mistakes. I have happened upon many sourdough bread recipes, and when feeling adventurous, tried them all. Each effort, recipe after recipe, always seemed to yield the same results: dense, crumbling, way-too-sour bread.
With each failed attempt, I returned to my original recipe, a bit defeated and frustrated because I was unable to make bread more enjoyable for my family. One day I came across yet another bread recipe (a soaked bread), but this one used an artificial yeast as leaven instead of natural sourdough. A light — or rather a spark — went off in my head. I needed to soak all of my grains the night before, not just the sponge of the bread.
So, making my go-to bread recipe just a bit more Vierra family-friendly, a new softer, lighter sourdough bread was born! This bread rises in less time than my other breads, so the taste isn’t too sour for us. It does require preparation and must be babysat throughout its rise for some hours, but it’s worth it at the end. My son and I, the only one of my brood who does not nap, enjoy checking on the bread to see how high it has risen before popping it in the oven to bake.
Sourdough Bread, Vierra-Style
- 1 cup sourdough starter (active state and fed 2 to 3 times before use — this will lessen the sour taste)
- 1 cup milk or water
- 1-1/4 cups spelt
- 1 cup hard wheat of choice
Soaked dough ingredients:
- 1-1/2 cups water or milk
- 1/4 cup coconut oil or butter (melted)
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup Rapadura
- 2-3/4 cups spelt
- 2-3/4 cups hard wheat of choice
- 2 eggs
- 3-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- butter or coconut oil for brushing
Makes 2 loaves.
The night before, mix the sponge ingredients together in a bowl. Loosely cover with a cloth to sit overnight. In a separate bowl, mix the soaked dough ingredients together, and also loosely cover to sit overnight.
The next morning, add 2 eggs to the soaked dough mixture and incorporate well. Put both the soaked dough and sponge in a stand mixer of your choice (I use a Kitchen Aid) and mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until well incorporated. Let the dough sit in the mixer for around 30 minutes. Add the sea salt to the dough and mix for 3 to 4 minutes. Depending on the temperature, let dough rise for about an hour. Turn on mixer for 20 seconds. Let dough rise again for an hour, and then mix again for 20 seconds.
After dough has risen for the second time, remove from mixer, knead on a floured surface, and separate the dough into two separate halves. Knead each half just enough to remove excess air, and form each half into a loaf to fit your bread pan. With a knife, slash the loaves of bread with a few marks down the center. Brush each loaf with butter or coconut oil. Cover both of the loaves and let rise in a warm spot. In the winter in our kitchen, this last rise takes a couple of hours. It may be only an hour in the summertime.
Once the loaves have risen satisfactorily, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake loaves for 40 to 45 minutes until they sound hollow if you tap them. Remove bread from oven and cool out of pans.
Lastly, do not resist the urge to read a story with your little one while you both enjoy a buttery slice of warm bread — a favorite treat!
Does your sourdough bread ever turn out dense and sour? I hope this bread is just as delicious for you as it is for us!
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