I decided to make sourdough.
Sourdough is the easiest of breads to make because it capitalizes on the already existing yeast present on the flour. All the grinding, bleaching, and shipping couldn’t possibly kill it. The only thing that kills yeast is boiling or baking. Obviously your flour you buy at the store isn’t boiled, so it has some of the proper yeast on it already.
I got the idea when reading about growing your own cereal. Someone mentioned they had accidentally made beer when they failed to sterilize their grains (baking) and saccharomyces took it over. The lightbulb went off – brettanomyces also grow on grain, which is how lambics spontaneously ferment.
* One cup flour (unbleached)
* One cup water
* One teaspoon plain white sugar (I don’t know if this is required, but I do know it will help the saccharomyces get a jump on the mold)
Mix it up thoroughly to get as homogeneous a mix as you possibly can and leave it out in an open container overnight in a dark warm place. The result will be a layer of sediment on the bottom (flour that has fallen out of suspension) and a layer of bubbles on top. It should smell like disgusting, but especially sour. One day will make mildly sour sourdough, three days would be better and make some really sharp stuff.
From there it’s a pretty typical bread recipe.
Add to this…
* Two cups water
* Three cups flour
* Keep adding flour and mix until it’s not wet and sticky.
* Two tablespoons good olive oil
* Four teaspoons sugar
* Two teaspoons salt
Let this new mess sit in a covered bowl 24 hours. Cover the bowl in a paper towel dampened in hot water. The dough should rise. The longer it sits, the more sour it gets as the sugar is converted to alcohol and makes CO2, forcing the bread to rise. You may want to start out with a wetter dough here for the sake of letting it sit longer without drying out.
Take your doughball and lightly pat it down. Don’t do like I did and smash the hell out of it. This results in pretzels. Just try to “deflate” it as much as possible. Let it rise again over 24 hours or until it doubles in bulk.
Now, either put the risen dough in balls on a pan or get some appropriately breadloaf shaped cookware. Toss that sucker in the oven, set for 350F, and bake for 45 minutes.
When you’re done, take it out of the oven and let it sit for a half hour or an hour before enjoying.