Sourdough Italian Bread

Once again it was time to use my sourdough starter and since I was making an Italian meal I thought I would try to make a couple of Italian free form loaves. The loaves look quite impressive when they come out of the oven, but making free form loaves is very easy and on top of it you don't even need a bread pan to make them.

 

Here is what you will need to make this recipe:
2 cups sourdough starter
3 cups real buttermilk (or cool water)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 vital wheat gluten
7 to 8 cups whole wheat flour

In a bowl mix together the starter, buttermilk, salt, bran and wheat gluten.




Add in as much flour that you can mix in by hand.


Then move to a mixer with dough hook attachment and add just enough flour so that the dough no longer sticks to the side.  
Sticking dough

Non-sticking dough
  Continue to knead for at least 5 more minutes (10 minutes minimum total kneading time).

Coat the dough in flour...



...and then cover and let sit until it doubles.  


Punch down the dough and form into 2 loaves.





Cut slits into the tops of the loaves with a sharp knife.


Rise in a warm place.  (I put my loaves in an oven that is heated to 170 degrees Fahrenheit and then shut off before putting the loaves in to rise.)



Remove the loaves from the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with a pan of water in the oven.  When the oven reaches 350 put the loaves in for 15 minutes, and then rotate their positions and bake for another 20 minutes.



Remove the loaves from the oven and brush with olive oil.

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