Last week I ventured to the cooking section of my library and checked out my favorite bread book, Bernard Clayton’s New Complete Bread Book. This must be the third time I’ve borrowed this book, and I really should buy a copy. In fact, Julia might have just bought me a copy, because as we were reading it together, she suddenly ripped out the page on which this recipe appears (that would be page 214). The ripped out page has functioned as a nice bookmark, but I am not too pleased with this two year old’s lack of respect for this book. Could it be that she was bored by the nearly 700 pages of mostly picture-less recipes? I suppose she prefers to see Elmo on all of her books. Anyway, I think my dreams of owning this book may soon come true, thanks to my public library and Julia.
This is the first bread I’ve ever made that requires a starter. I have avoided making bread with starters before because I usually need the bread that day, so I don’t have hours to wait for the starter to do its thing. We still had some bread in the house, so I decided to experiment and use this recipe with a starter. Using the starter added a complex tang to the bread that I’ve never achieved in my prior breads.
Doctor Frankenstein’s horrified moaning, IT’s ALIVE! kept coming into my head every time I checked on the progress of the starter, and then later on the rising dough. The yeast had a longer chance to develop and do its yeasty thing, so the smell of beer permeated this pregnant woman’s kitchen.
Once I mixed in the flour and the rest of the ingredients into the starter, I was amazed to be able to actually watch the dough rise.
I decided to create a wheat stalk braid for the loaf, but I think it looks kind of odd. I probably should have researched what these wheat stalk braids actually look like because it ended up looking like a braid going across a round loaf of bread for no good reason. It was exciting to braid bread, though. I’ve never tried that before!
The four pound hearth loaf turned out tangy and delightful sliced up for sandwiches. I cut the large loaf in half, and used one half for lunches last week, and the other half for lunches this week. Thank goodness for freezers!