Monday, September 17, 2012

TWD -- A recipe in my comfort zone

Finally: A recipe I could feel confident about. The whole wheat bread recipe, this week's Tuesday's With Dorie challenge from the book, "Baking with Julia," was right up my alley. As a self-confessed "bread head" who has not purchased a loaf of bread in 11 years and has experimented with almost every bread recipe known to man in that time period, I recognized the whole wheat recipe as the de riguer recipe now making the rounds in cookbooks, magazines and Internet recipes. This standard formula of approximately half white flour and half whole wheat with honey used as sweetener is the homecoming queen of all whole wheat recipes.

Sourdough starter crock
Since I bake mostly sourdough bread, I decided to convert the Baking with Julia recipe using some sourdough starter in the formula. Sourdough bread stays fresh longer than other breads, and the use of natural yeast cuts back the need for store-bought yeast.

My sourdough starter, now eight years old, is fed with equal portions of water and flour measured by weight, not volume. In other words, I feed it weekly with four ounces of water and four onces of flour. Thus, to convert a standard recipe to a sourdough recipe, I need to subtract equal amounts of flour and water from the original recipe. In the case of the Baking with Julia whole wheat loaf, I first cut the recipe in half to make only one loaf not two, then added six ounces of sourdough starter. This meant that I needed three ounces less of both flour and water.

Microwsve as proofing box
After mixing and kneading the dough with my stand mixer, I used by microwave oven as a proofing box. I heated about an inch of water in a microwave safe glass for two minutes on high. Then, leaving the glass in the microwave for moisture, I added the bowl of bread dough, shut the door, and allowed the dough to rise for 90 minutes. I used the same technique to let the dough rise in the pan for 60 minutes.

The finished loaf
The bread turned out lovely, and I felt I gained the advantage of adding more chew (sourdough starter acts much like a poolish or biga providing more chew to the crumb) and I was able to cut back on the yeast by about half. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly.


  1. I am impressed with your sourdough parenting skills to keep it going for eight years. Mine is currently about a year now - just a baby...

  2. An eight-year-old sourdough starter is quite a success. Thanks for sharing your process for converting this recipe to sourdough, too.

  3. Great job! I thought about doing this and then decided not to. I am glad yours turned out well!

  4. Wow! Eight years. That's a lot of feeding! I guess after that much time it becomes habit; like brushing your teeth. Ha ha ha. I'm impressed. Enjoyed this post.