Food + Wine

My Breakfast Bread

You guys.  I am about to share with you the recipe for the food I eat every single day of my life.  And have been eating (every. single. day) since my son was in utero.  I have also been making this thing every week since then… since my first born was in my belly  –  He’s almost 8  –  THAT’S how much I love this stuff.  That’s how much power this stuff has over me.  I crave it.  I dream it.  Every evening I’m in bed, I’m thinking of it.  Every morning I walk downstairs, sleepy and dreamy, turn the coffee on, and slice into it… then eat it, pinching off soft pieces with my fingers, standing in the kitchen, silently, purposefully, in the dim light of the morning, with the smell of coffee filling the room.

What is this magical food item?

Bread.

But not just any bread.

Sweet Sourdough Bread made from my husband’s grandmother’s potato starter.  Edwina, or GaGa, if you’re as lucky as I am, generously gave me a cup of her starter when my son was a few months inside my belly.  Along with handwritten instructions that now look like this…

bread recipe

Which means…

I’ve kept something alive for 9 years. (!!!)  Yeah, baby!  (Unless I have a 9 year old child, that’s a pretty impressive statement.)  This starter requires weekly feeding.  Or it dies.  It diiieeessss,  y’all!

And?  It’s still tickin’!!  9 years.  Come on now.  That’s awesome pants.

It also means that my bread is supremely flavorful.  The older the starter is, the better the bread tastes.

And this bread is INCREDIBLE.  It’s slightly sweet, so soft and comforting and soft and stuff….

You can find the standard recipe for this bread anywhere online.  But I make mine differently (Sorry GaGa).  I use more starter per recipe so the flavor is more concentrated, so I’m only making 1 (large) loaf instead of the standard 2 (or 3 smaller sized loaves).  I haven’t seen anyone else do it this way but I highly recommend it!  I even have two starters so I can still make 2 loaves a week… (We eat a lot of bread in my house…)

And even though I consider myself a master at baking this bread, (9 years!!!!!!!) you will note in the photo that there is what we home bakers like to call a ‘sad streak’ in my loaf.  And it’s generally there.  And it’s my favorite!!  And I don’t care if it’s technically incorrect.   Not one bit.  Hell, I’ve never been one to follow rules.  But the sad streak is the BEST PART!!!!!  I also love that when this sad streak occurs, it creates a heart shape in the loaf.  And isn’t that just so fitting?  This bread has been made by my own two hands and fed to the ones I love for almost 10 years.  Feeding your loved ones something you’ve made by hand is a perfect way to speak from your heart.  And even if I wanted to fix it, I wouldn’t have the heart to do so.  That sad streak nestled in the middle of the heart is what my kids have affectionally referred to as ‘mushy bread’.  And it’s their favorite part too.  So I’m perfectly happy with my sad mush.

My sad mush makes my heart very, very happy.

WHOLE WHEAT (SWEET)   

POTATO SOURDOUGH BREAD

bread. super

this recipe makes 1 large loaf

To make this bread, you’ll need a sourdough starter fed with potato flakes and sugar.  (Don’t have one? I’ll give you notes on how to start your own starter below!  Suuuuper easy.)

I’ll also take the time right now to say that you can add things to the bread dough (at the very beginning) to make other types of bread… cinnamon and raisins, other dried fruit bits, chopped apples, grated extra sharp cheddar… all of which I have done, successfully.

In a large glass or ceramic bowl (no plastic or metal allowed here!!! They react to the acids and do bad things) combine the following, using a wooden spoon…

1 1/2 cups white (unbleached) flour (or use bread flour.  If you use bread flour, omit the gluten noted below)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I prefer the white whole wheat to the standard red, as it produces a more soft loaf)

1 1/2 tsp gluten 

2 TB white sugar 

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 cup starter

Mix with your wooden spoon until you get a shaggy dough, then switch to your hands to create a dough ball. I just do this in the bowl itself, but you can take it out and work it on the countertop if you wish… there’s really no need though.

Grease the bottom of the bowl with oil spray or more canola/vegetable oil (I use oil spray) and place your dough ball back in the bowl.  Oil the top of the dough ball and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Allow it to sit in a warm spot for 2-3 hours.  It will rise, about double.

Transfer the dough ball to a floured countertop and knead until smooth and no longer sticky.

Shape into a large ball by tucking dough underneath and smoothing out the top.

Place in greased loaf pan, ‘seam side’ down. Oil the top of the dough. No need to cover it this time.

Set in a warm place to rise 8-12 hours, or until it looks the proper loaf size.

Bake in a preheated 325 oven for 25-30 minutes.  The baking time depends greatly on the weather… currently, my bread is done at 28 minutes 😉

Brush the top of your hot loaf with melted butter (you can omit this step, but why?)

Allow to cool completely in the pan before removing.

Slice and eat as you wish!  And store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days, or longer in the fridge if it lasts that long (but why?).  It also freezes very well- wrap in plastic and then in foil.

It’s wonderful lightly toasted in the cool months with apple, pear or peach butter, but I (and my kids) love it as is.  Mushy heart and all.

Starting the starter…

1 cup very warm water (bath water temp…not too hot for your hand to be comfy in it)

1/2 cup white sugar

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)

3 TB (instant) dried potato flakes  (not flavored!!)

Mix everything together in a large jar (at least 2 cups/16 oz in size).  Let it sit on the counter and ferment for 2 days.  It will become bubbly.

Then when you want to make bread, feed it.  Feed your starter 8-12 hours before you’re ready to make your dough.

Feeding the starter…

You should now have roughly 1 cup of sourdough starter.  That’s how you begin every feeding. Remove the starter from the fridge and allow it to come up to room temperature- most of the time I take mine out at night and let it sit on the counter to be fed in the morning.  It will look like this before feeding:

starter

no real sign of bubbles or foam layer

Measure to make sure it’s at 1 cup (give or take a little bit is fine) and proceed with the feeding…

In a separate bowl, combine the following…

1 cup very warm water

3/4 cup white sugar

3 TB potato flakes

Mix well and then stir into your starter jar.  Use a wooden utensil, (no plastic and metal…)

Cover with a kitchen towel or cloth and let sit on the counter for 8-12 hours.  It should be very bubbly and foamy now…

starter done. aerial starter done. side view

Now you’re ready to make your bread!  After making it, you will have 1 cup of starter leftover in your jar, ready to be fed for the next time.  And you will continue to feed the starter every 5-7 days (before then is also ok, just try to not wait longer than 7 days in between feedings).

If you’d like to give some starter to a friend (always 1 cup’s worth), then you would feed the starter as usual, allowing it to sit and bubble/foam for the 8-12 hours, but instead of taking out 1 cup for your bread making, you would just give that 1 cup to a friend in a jar and send them on their way 😉

Let it be known that I am happy to give you some of my magic starter.  All you have to do is ask.  Or you can meet me by the coffee maker every morning before the sun rises and we’ll be happily mushy together.

XOXO, Abbey

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