I make bread at least twice a week. People seem to think it's a huge, time consuming task that would leave them exhausted. It's not! Sure, some bread recipes require lots of kneading. Some are a lot of work, and the bread comes out crumbly and dry. But there's a simple way to have reliable, easy bread. It only uses 3 ingredients, only dirties one bowl, and won't require much kneading!
If you don't like how precise you must be in baking (a bit too much flour or water can throw off the recipe), sourdough is for you! There are no hard and fast rules for how much flour or water to add, because you slowly add flour until it looks and feels right. If it gets dry, add a bit more water. If it's sticky, throw in a spoonful of flour. One of the best things in sourdough bread baking is its adaptability to your schedule. You can leave it rising until tomorrow if you want, and it won't over-rise like my yeast bread dough did whenever I forgot it in the midst of my kids' antics. Sourdough is so easy! I've tried a lot of recipes, and ended up melding a bunch of recipes together to make a bread we like. (For an even easier version of this recipe, look at the update at the end of the post!)
Here's how the kids and I make our bread:
1. Mix 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup starter, 1/2 cup water. Rest 1 hour or more.
2. Mix in 1 1/2 cups water, then about 4 cups flour (or more) slowly until it's not sticky. 20 minutes later, a spoonful of salt and knead a bit. Rest 3-5 hours or more.
3. Shape and let rest another hour or so.
4. Bake at 450 degrees for about 40 minutes.
It's really simple compared to most bread making! If you've made sourdough bread, you'll be fine with that recipe. If you want some commentary, here goes...
1 cup starter
1/2 cup water
1 cup whole wheat flour
Let it rest for an hour, or up to 24 hours (I do an hour or two).
I don't knead much at all. Maybe a minute. It's not long! Just pick up an edge, fold it over the rest and smush it in. Then turn it, kneading like that until it's smooth like this:
Let it sit for 3-5 hours, or up to 24 hours. You can fold its "corners" into the middle at 30 minutes, 60 minutes and 90 minutes for extra good rise. But if you don't, the bread will still be fine. I do this step sometimes because America's Test Kitchen touts its benefits, but any difference I notice may be the power of suggestion!
4. Bake it at 450 for 40 minutes, maybe a bit more or less depending on shape. And you have bread that's 3 simple ingredients, flour, water and salt. It's fermented, so the nutrients are easily absorbed and the anti-nutrients are reduced.