{Homestead Cooking} Homemade Sandwich and Sourdough | Bye-bye grocery store bread!

UPDATE: I currently use Richard Proenneke's original sourdough starter (yes, it's really 40 years old!). If you would like some of my starter, please contact me and I'd be happy to send some along to you.

This week, husband and I decided that we would start making ALL of our bread from scratch. That's right....no more grocery store bread. And when I say that "we" would start making it, I mean that "I" would start making it....

I've dabbled with bread for years now. When I was a teenager, I worked in a small town Mennonite store, and I have to say that my baking and cooking roots probably all started there. I wasn't intrigued enough at a young age to learn from my grandma or mom, though I did always love to watch those cooking shows! However, as a teenager, I took interest in the "homemade" side of life....and I loved it.

Husband and I are a bit different in our bread liking. I prefer dense, heavy, super moist bread that just melts in your mouth...along with the pound of butter that's smothered on top of it. Husband enjoys it too, but he prefers more of a sandwich type bread, especially when it comes to his daily toast and lunch.

I do agree, it's kind of hard on the tummy when you're working and scarfing down 10lbs of bread along with the ham and swiss that's in between each 5lb piece.

So, I set out on a quest to find the perfect "sandwich" bread that was organic, homemade, easy to make, and super tasty for Jr and I as well (we like it rich, what can I say!?)

It didn't take long to come across a delicious recipe from The Curvy Carrot. The recipe was titled "Rosebud's Butter-topped White Bread", and I knew I had a winner!

I did, however, tweak it a bit to suite our liking. The recipe calls for a lot more flour than I would normally use, and I also wanted to be able to add honey into the mix when necessary. The recipe is pretty much the same except for a few changes that suited our liking very well! It turned out to be the perfect sandwich bread, but also had a little bouncy softness and thickness as well. It is easily cut into thin slices for sandwich bread, but is equally as delicious when cut into large hunks or pulled apart by hand.

One batch of this bread will make two large loaves or four small loaves. I chose to do one large loaf and two small ones. The large loaf is perfect for husband's morning and lunch sandwiches. The small loaves are perfect for snacking on, or for Jr and I's morning and lunch sandwiches. Our favorite? Peanut butter and local RAW honey sandwiches...yumm....

Along with Rosebud's delish white bread, I will also be making sourdough, once again. I made sourdough a couple of years ago (with samples from a friends starter), kept up with it liberally, but eventually just got tired of it. Instead of sticking it in the fridge, silly me left it out and forgot to feed it! So this meant I had to make a new starter....all.by.my.self.

I tried so many starters that were failures. I was beginning to think it was me, but I knew better, because I always had that nagging feeling that I just wasn't feeding it often enough. Those recipes were wrong....take that! I finally found a tried and true recipe, which I had stumbled upon before but had forgotten about it.

Now that the sourdough starter has been fermenting wonderfully over the past week, it is ready to be used. The starter must be fed daily and used weekly in order to keep the process going. Needless to say, we'll be finding new things to make with this -- english muffins, dinner rolls, hamburger rolls, sandwich rolls, pancakes, and so much more!

Sourdough is so much healthier for you than white bread, and even better than wheat bread. It is especially healthier if you choose to do sourdough rye -- substituting rye flour for the unbleached all-purpose flour that you would be using in the starter.

Because white and wheat bread are full of carbs and sugar, they cause high blood sugar spikes when eaten -- sourdough is easier for the body to digest because it breaks down sugars for you during the fermentation process. Sourdough also doesn't cause your blood sugar to spike like white and wheat bread (when eaten in moderation). This is a great option for those who are on low-carb diets, especially diabetics. 

I cannot wait to start this bread making awesomeness this week. We are finishing up our last loaf from last week, so we would probably only need to make bread every 2 weeks (with the exception of the sourdough).

You must keep in mind that homemade bread doesn't have any preservatives, so if you are not going to eat both loaves in 3 days (dear Lord, please don't!), then you will need to refrigerate or freeze a loaf. I always choose to freeze mine and then pull them out the night before I need them (do not refreeze, use it up in a few days).

Below you'll find the recipes to Rosebud's Sandwich Bread and to the Sourdough Starter. Neither are my recipes, however, I have made a note beside a few things to let you know how I changed the recipe to suite our needs and liking.


** my notes are in light gray in the recipes below.


Rosebud's Butter-Topped White Bread

4 and 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast (or the equivalent of two packets)
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into pieces
2 and 2/3 cup additional warm water
9-10 cups all-purpose flour (I only used 7-8 cups of ORGANIC unbleached flour)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, for brushing the tops of the loaves
Additional butter for greasing your rising bowl and loaf pans

1. In the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, dissolve the yeast in 3/4 cup of warm water, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the sugar, salt, butter, additional 2 and 2/3 cup warm water, and mix gently to combine.
3.  Slowly add 5 cups of the flour, mixing on low speed until smooth.
4. With the mixer on its lowest speed (you don’t want flour everywhere…as I have discovered), slowly add the remaining flour until the dough is smooth.
5. Switch to your dough hook attachment and knead the dough for 10 minutes. ***If you have a smaller mixer, I would recommend kneading the dough in two portions so as not to burn your motor out-this is a lot of dough.  Alternatively, like my grandmother used to do, you can knead all of the dough by hand. ** (I have a large size Kitchen Aid Pro600 mixer and I STILL had to finish by hand!)
6.  While the dough is kneading, lightly grease a large bowl with butter, as well as two loaf pans (I used 9″).
7.  Once the dough is ready, place the dough in the greased bowl and turn over to completely coat the dough with butter/cooking spray.  Cover, and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
8. After an hour, punch down the dough and divide it into two portions.
9. Working with one portion at a time, roll (with a rolling pin) the dough out into roughly 12″ x 12″ squares, making sure that the thickness of the dough is uniform throughout.
10.  Slowly and tightly roll up each square, sealing the edges firmly.
11.  Tuck the ends of the roll tightly under the bread and place into your prepared loaf pans. (Place seam side down!) Repeat with the second loaf.  Cover the loaves, set in a warm place, and let rise until doubled, about another hour.
12.  Place one rack on the lowest position in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
13. Bake the loaves for 15 minutes, then cover each loaf with aluminum foil to prevent the tops from browning too much.
14.  Once covered with foil, bake for an additional 12-15 minutes.
15. Remove the loaves from the oven, immediately place on a wire rack to cool, and lightly brush the loaves with the melted butter.

Sourdough Bread Starter

Recipe via www.nourishedkitchen.com
established sourdough starter (available here), optional* (I did not use one)
filtered water (I used well water)
Starting the sourdough: Whisk 1/4 cup flour with sourdough starter (if using) and 3 tablespoons filtered water in a small bowl (I just used my well water). Pour this into a jar, and let it sit for twelve hours.

Twelve hours later, whisk in 1/2 cup flour with 1/3 cup filtered water and continue adding 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water every twelve hours for one week until your starter is brisk and bubbling. As you feed your starter, take care to whisk in the flour and water thoroughly into the established starter, aerating the starter will help to yield the best and most reliable results.
To accommodate for expansion of the sourdough when it's fed, make sure that your jar is only half full after each feeding. If you've made too much sourdough starter for the capacity of your jar, pour some off and use it in sourdough biscuits, sourdough pancakes or sourdough crackers
Maintaining the sourdough: After a week, your sourdough should be sturdy enough to withstand storage. If you bake infrequently (that is: if you bake less than once a week), you can store your sourdough in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature and feed it well about twelve hours before you plan to bake. If you bake more frequently, every day or a few times a week, you can store your sourdough at room temperature and feed it with 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup filtered water once a day.
Special considerations: If a brown liquid appears floating on top of your sourdough starter, simply pour it off. Sourdough bakers call this liquid, and it is harmless; however, it often signifies that you've fed your starter too much water in relation to flour or have let your starter go too long between feedings. Sourdough starters are relatively resilient, and bounce back quickly once you resume proper care of them.

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