Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bread Baking at Altitude

I wasn't a huge bread baker at sea level and didn't realize what I had given up until I moved to the mountains.  After a visit back home to my Mom's house and baking a loaf of bread for her to show her how the bread machine works I realized that I had been missing the nutty earthiness of freshly baked bread and the aroma that fills the house.  (I also owe one of my friends a HUGE apology about her milling her own flour which I now understand).  I also had forgotten about the ease of using a bread machine.  Thankfully, I didn't toss it out when we relocated.

What followed my return home were several late nights at my computer while I searched for the "right" recipe that would succeed at this altitude and make my family's mouths water.  I am happy to announce that after much research along with a fair amount of trail and error I have found my Sourdough Bread making magic.

To start I found a great recipe for the sourdough starter and then waited patiently while it fermented going from smelling like it had spoiled, to smelling like a beer brewery, to finally a nice refined champagne smell.  Then I started experimenting with the loaf of bread itself.  At first it fell; I reduced the yeast by 1/4 teaspoon.  Next, it over proofed in the final proof and I added an extra pinch of salt to counter that problem.  The end result is this small loaf that we consume with one seating.

Sourdough Bread Making Magic
1 3/4 cups Flour
1 tablespoon Sugar (or Honey)
1 teaspoon Salt
3/4 teaspoon Yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
3/4 tablespoon soft butter
1/2 cup sour dough starter (stir before measuring)

Add everything to the bread machine baking pan in the order listed.  I set mine for a 3 hour basic with dark crust.  When the machine signals that it is finished I pop it out, remove the bread from the pan and cool on a rack.

If I get my timing right we have fresh bread for dinner, but I often set it to bake around noon to have a warm surprise for the boys when they get home from school.  My plan is to spoil them now, so they will look for wives that can cook and I can relax and enjoy the cooking of my daughter-in-laws in my old age as I play with my multitude of grandchildren.  (I hope you enjoyed that brief insight into my daydreams ...  I'm a simple girl.)



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