via phil hawksworth
I have struggled to make a loaf of bread that is sandwich-shaped & begging to become toast, buttered alongside a pot of tea. These instructions are of immense assistance.
- 1 cup warm water + 1 cup sourdough starter
- 3 Tbsp. unsulphured (not blackstrap) molasses
- 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 ¼ tsp. table salt, or to taste
- Grease a large bowl & a loaf pan with butter or cooking spray.
- In a non-metal bowl, combine starter, water & molasses. Stir briefly, then allow the starter to bloom for about 5 minutes. Add the flours, oats & butter, stirring with a wooden spoon to mix. The dough will look rough and shaggy. Add the salt & knead with your hands for 15 minutes. The dough should come together & slap around the sides of the bowl without sticking. If the dough is sticking, add a tablespoon or soof bread flour, sprinkling it down between the dough and the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft, supple & slightly sticky.
- For the first rise, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times. Put the dough into the greased bowl, cover with a damp towel, and leave it to rise for 1-3 hours in a warm oven (leaving the oven light on makes it stay cozy, around 100) or until it has doubled in size. To see if it’s ready, gently push a floured finger into it. If the dough springs back, it needs more time; if the dimple remains, it’s ready for the next step.
- To shape the dough, scrape it onto a floured work surface. Press down on it, working it into a square shape, taking care to depress any bubbles. Fold the dough down from the top to the middle, then up from the bottom to the middle. Next, bring the newly formed top and bottom edges together, pinching the seam to seal. Pinch the sides together, and roll the shaped dough back and forth, plumping it so that it’s evenly formed & approximately the size of your pan. Place the dough in the pan with the seam side down, pressing it gently into the corners of the pan.
- For the second rise, cover the dough again with a damp towel, letting it rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough rises to half again its size. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
- When the dough has finished its second rise, bake for about 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. The loaf is ready when the top crust & bottom crusts are nicely browned. To see if the bread is ready, give the top of the loaf a thump with your hand. If it sounds hollow, it’s ready; if not, give it another few minutes to finish baking. Remove the finished loaf from the pan & cool completely on a wire rack. Resist the urge to slice until it’s fully cooled, so that the crumb has time to set & the flavor can develop.
Note: This bread keeps beautifully at room temperature. I keep mine in a plastic grocery bag, tied shut, and I set it on the counter with the cut side down. It stays good that way for 4 or 5 days, easy. It's usually gone in 2-3 days though.
Yield: 1 loaf